Saturday, March 21, 2009

Frankie Gets Her Groove Back

My ex-husband didn't share my itchy foot. To him, traveling was a waste...a waste of time, of money, of time he could spend making money. Although I managed to cajole him to take a few trips during our 25-year relationship, my itchy foot went largely unscratched. As did most of my other needs.

I was 40 when we divorced, childless, shell-shocked, completely unsure of myself. (My ex-husband told me I was no longer attractive. Apparently, he couldn't forgive me for not being the same thin babe he met at 16. I've never seen the woman he had the affair with, but evidently she was more his type.)

The end of my marriage meant the beginning of my travels. For my first solo trip, I chose Iceland, Sweden and Norway, countries that seemed unthreatening to a middle-aged woman traveling alone. I loved every delicious, frightening, exhilarating moment. If I wanted to stay a few days longer than planned, or spend a whole day in a museum, or jet off someplace else on the spur of the moment, I could. I didn't have to debate or consult with anyone.

I knew I loved traveling, but I didn't expect to enjoy my own company so much. And the last thing I expected was to get my mojo back.

I was in Olso, standing on the stairs outside the art museum, pondering where to go next. A young Brit asked me what I thought of the art. We chatted about the paintings--Munch's
The Scream was more pastel than I expected--then moved on to literature as we strolled to an outdoor cafe. As the sun began to set, we decided to seek out a spot for dinner. Somewhere over dessert, it finally dawned on me that this young man (14 years my junior) was attracted to more than my sparkling wit and knowledge of Huckleberry Finn.

It would be a better story if I told you we ended up in the sack, but in truth, nothing happened. At least not on that trip. We corresponded and talked on the phone, and the following March I found myself in England, where we spent a lovely week in a romantic 17th-century cottage on a lake.

Although we're no longer intimate--one of the attractions was that we lived in different time zones -- I'm very grateful to my British friend. It makes me smile when he calls every so often and asks if I'm still with My True Love Frink. He sighs when I say yes and then fills me in on the young hotties he's dating.

So, you may be wondering, what does all this have to do with the polar bear necklace at the top of this page, the object that all this wisdom is supposed to be about?

Fast-forward to the next year. I was traveling in Iceland and decided to take a day-trip to Greenland. In a tiny store, I bought the polar bear carved from reindeer bone as a memento of my trip. On the small plane back to Iceland, I met a travel writer. He, too, found me more attractive than my ex-husband had. We spent a few invigorating weeks traveling around Greenland together. I have fond memories of this trip, even though I ultimately realized that I was more enthralled by the travel writer's job than the travel writer himself.

Today, when I look at my little polar bear necklace, I see more than a $5 trinket. I see adventure, freedom, and friendship. And most of all, I am reminded of my first solo trips abroad, when this middle-aged broad got her mojo back.


  1. You have no idea how much this post meant to me tonight. I've been there, done that, almost step by step. That must be the reason we ambled into each other in blogland. I hope we can talk more, but isn't it great to realize that you have indeed gotten your mojo back? It's been one of those -- who knows why, crappy nights, until now and I suddenly felt the light shine right out of that little polar bear! Thanks!

  2. Sylvia--it must be blog kismet. I do hope you'll write sometime about your experiences. My polar bear is sending you hugs....you too AlpHa!

  3. I've had a dull uninteresting life but I guess it suits me because I've enjoyed most of it. I do not like to travel. I like to sleep in my own bed. I've always been that way. At 5, my folks too me to Kansas City with them to visit some of their friends. That night I cried because "I wanted to sleep in my own bed".

    But I admire anyone who loves to travel and see the world.

  4. Every cloud has a silver lining, eh? Good for you for making lemonade!

    I have an itchy foot too and I don't know what I would have done if my husband didn't share mine. So glad for you that you now have these opportunties, including those for the heartwarming friendships you found along the way.

  5. Lovely post. It's always good to read about the climb back from desperate times!

  6. Hi Frankie, Found you on Womens blogger. You've a great blog. I dream of traveling after my son graduates and goes on his way. My idea of traveling would be moving from here to there and stay a while to see how others live.

  7. Thanks Richard and Sujatha. It makes me happy to open my blog and see your comments!

    Margie--I don't see anything dull and uninteresting at all about knowing who you are and what you like. There's something very enviable in that! And, I think about Thoreau's statement, "I have traveled much in Concord," reminding us that there's no need to travel when there is a whole world in front of our eyes that we all too often fail to see. I don't imagine you have that problem.

    TLC--I so agree about staying a while. There are more and more opportunities to do that...I sometimes dream of moving to China to teach English. Maybe one of these days.....

  8. Found your blog at Womens Blogger Directory & I've enjoyed reading. Very inspirational story & thks for sharing!

    ..... I love travelling & it's in my blood :)


  9. Thanks Blackswan. (Great name by the way.)