The Death of Adventure

Above, the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, where I’ve got to get to at some point.

Lately my idle moments have been spent surfing Orbitz, and every manner of travel website. I’m trying to devise a getaway that satisfies three conditions that are ever at tension with one another: expense, exoticness and time limitations. There is an undefinable, perfect vacation that I imagine for myself, my wife and my ten-year-old son. A place that’s fun for all of us, not too expensive, and reachable within a brief, not-even-a-week time period because she-and-I-have-real-jobs-dammit, that is frankly impossible to achieve, but I still keep thinking about it daily.

Oh, God, I think about it.

It usually takes hold in the mid-afternoon, after lunch and when I have trouble setting myself back to work. “Maybe skiing in Idaho?” I think. And away I go, looking up flights to Spokane in late March or early April, rental cars, lift and lodge packages. But then it either crosses a cost threshold, or a time threshold, “It takes that long to get out there and back? What the heck?” And the whole idea crashes. No getaway for us.

I’ve done this too many times to count. Puerto Rico. New Orleans, Quebec City, Philadelphia, Mexico City, London, Reykjavik, Paris, Chennai, Bangkok, Saigon. Buenos Aires. 

My mind is constantly wandering, wondering: Could we get out there and back in a cost-effective way that would allow us to keep our jobs?

The answer is no, unless…

And arrrgh, the thing that kills my adventurous heart. 

I must plan. Plan many months in advance. 

Killing the dashing adventurer in me, with my passport in the top drawer and Instagram at the ready!

No, instead I must plan.


So, honey, what do you think about a trip to such-and-such?

“Oh, I’m not sure I have enough vacation time left. Eight days in August? Can we afford it?”

Well, how much time do we have to spend with your family for Christmas?

“Let’s not get into that again.”

And so it goes.

In my twenties, every December, Cathay Pacific would advertise, in the Washington PostSunday Travel section, an unbelievable deal. Get yourself to Los Angeles, and then for $999 you could fly from LA to Hong Kong, and then to as many Cathay Pacific destinations as you could fit in during the month of January. It was an open jawed ticket, meaning you just had to show up at the airport, present your ticket stub (this was the 90’s, so stubs were still a thing), and be willing to fly standby to your destination.

I could easily have taken off the month of January. No job was that important! But scraping together $999? Impossible. That was almost three times my monthly rent! The trip never happened.

And now, through the power of credit and cash flow, if such a deal still existed (it doesn’t, I check every year), I would now be obligated to triple the costs (wife and son!) and then have to leave our lucrative, responsible jobs and pull our son out of school.

Is it bad of me to look forward to my son heading to college, already?

There are people who manage to work around this and have amazing vacations.

I think they have either considerably more capital, or killer planning skills.

And so I go back to obsessing…

If I’ve got a trip planned for Thanksgiving, and it’ll cost XX, could I fit in a trip in August, that could cost YY?

Mexico City in summer? Budapest in January? Why doesn’t Orbitz provide a “cheap off-season trips” button?

I am excited to point out that Chicago’s first round of mayoral elections narrowed the choices down to two progressive Black women, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle. I have been a long-time supporter of Toni. She has achieved an obscene number of boring but essential progressive accomplishments as Cook County Board President, like getting the Cook County Hospital in the black, urging along cash bail reform, putting tens of thousands of people on CountyCare health insurance and more. This is real work from a true progressive. 

But if Lori Lightfoot were to win, I would not despair for Chicago. Both choices will bring our city into a new world. Both prioritize bringing development into our neighborhoods and reversing the cycle of despair so many underserved communities struggle with. Both plan to break the cycle of insider dealing that benefits the haves, over the have-nots.

I’m also ecstatic Melissa Conyears-Ervin is in a runoff for City Treasurer. Melissa, the only MBA in the Treasurer race, wants to focus on turning the Treasurer’s office into a fiscal counter balance to the Mayor, by becoming the source of fiscal analysis of the city books, so we get an accurate portrayal of city government from an independent source, rather than rely on the Mayor to tell us everything and hope that it’s enough information for a good decision.

Election Day, April 2, 2019 is going to be amazing.