The hilarious part about it is this is a woman who has travelled extensively and some would say recklessly and has always been adamant that it is her travels and expeditions that have made her the independent, cool-headed success story that she is. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what’s going on; she’s terrified that some harm will befall her son and she wants to protect him. Understandable as that is, I can’t help thinking that she will be doing him no favours by giving into her parental fears. Everybody needs to have adventures, if only for the drunken regaling of them in later life.
My first independent trip came at the end of O Levels, aged sixteen, and was an unmitigated disaster. I went with five other girls and we stayed in a caravan on the east coast (this was the late 70s and we had simple tastes) which one of the girls had arranged. God knows how, given that we were all so young, the caravan owners must have been insane. In actual fact we were nice, sensible girls but, some would say predictably, we fell in with some rough local boys who worked at the fair. All I can say is that a car somehow crashed into the side of the caravan and we had to return home after only three days. Our parents were stuck with a hefty bill and the whole saga turned into one big misadventure.
My next trip was more successful when, at the end of A Levels, I did the practically compulsory at that time, inter-railing experience. It was a month of feeling filthy and looking like a scarecrow as we lived on almost no money, flitting between trains and youth hostels. Looking back at it now, it is my idea of torture but, at the time, feeling as though we had the whole world at our feet, drunk on cheap wine and wandering from country to country in an international pack of eighteen year olds which kept getting bigger and bigger as we went along, it was exhilarating.
I suppose my biggest adventure as a young woman came when I was awarded a scholarship to study at university in Texas for a year. I travelled with a friend and we basically had one long extended holiday, causing mayhem wherever we went. We spent the breaks, touring around the States on Greyhound buses. It was all done on very little money and I will never forget the kindness of strangers that we encountered on those trips. People who loaned us money to get back to Texas from LA when we hadn’t budgeted enough, or who took us into their homes when we were stranded in El Paso, or who saved us from the likelihood of being murdered in New Orleans when we wandered blithely into some strange gang territory. We were lucky, I know, because we were young and idiotic and could have easily come to harm but we didn’t and I believe we became better people for the experiences we had along the way.
My friend is a sensible woman and I am sure she is going to relent and let her boy have his adventure. Hopefully, it will be the first of many and he will come to see that the world is a varied and exciting place and that most people are kind and will lend a helping hand when you are in a tight spot.