Spare Me Machu Picchu (And Hand Me My Pillow, Please)

By Carol Leifer
Photograph: Brian Cronin

“Travel! See the world,” the ads exhort women our age. When I was younger, I did picture this period of my life illustrated with a suitcase. But taking a journey may be the last thing this 53-year-old wants to do right now.
Home. That’s really the only place I want to park it.
Home. I crave it the way a contestant on The Biggest Loser craves a doughnut.
Home. How did one place become my sole destination?
I realized this was happening as my partner and I loaded our car for the last vacation we endeavored to take. Standing in front of the trunk, I said, “Well, I better bring my pillow. Who knows what the pillows will be like at the hotel? Make that both my pillows. I doubt their five-star bedding is going to have the one-two punch of my perfectly worn-in flat pillow with the sundae topping of my fluffy, non-allergen faux-down masterpiece.”
And, a few moments later, “Whoops! I better grab my bag of ground flaxseed. What are the odds this place, hoity-toity as it may be, is going to have my exact brand?” (And if Mama doesn’t have her flaxseed in her morning juice, trust me, you don’t want to see her for the rest of the day.)
Sure, I could hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But I’d probably have to buy special hiking boots and super-powerful bug spray and some highfalutin’ UV gear. (That’s the beauty of living in a recession; it gives you an out. Who can afford all that stuff?) Besides, I have a perfectly nice hiking trail two minutes from my house, and there’s nary an insect in sight.
Nor do I need to visit an exotic country to figure out the meaning of life. I think I’ve pretty much got the gist of it, which is to enjoy and savor every day that I’m lucky enough to be here. I’d much rather achieve transcendental bliss by stretching out in my comfy Barcalounger while watching all my favorite TiVo’d shows. The Four Seasons may have fancy flat screens, but will they let me dial up a double feature of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and last week’s PBS special on our national parks?
Feel free to take my frequent flyer miles. Knock yourself out with the Seven Wonders of the World. The eighth is printed right on my address label.

Carol Leifer is a former Seinfeld writer and the author of When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win.

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