People travel for many different reasons. To work, to learn, to expand one’s view of the world, to have a few adventures, to get out of one’s comfort zone, to take a break, to escape.
Since last month, I’ve been feeling more restless than usual. I wanted to go somewhere. Out of the city, out of the country. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Pack my bags, drag my husband and escape somewhere. I even rummaged through my closet to take out a coat, bikinis, scarves, and sun dresses with the hopes that staring at all these seasonal clothes I haven’t worn for quite some time will give me further excuse to travel.
The first time I got this restless was back when P and I decided to take that trip to Japan back in 2010. When we decided we would spend the money we had saved up for a pregnancy that didn’t happen after months of fertility treatment for a dream vacation instead.
The year before that, when I found out that I would have a hard time getting pregnant, P and I (or more of I) immediately dove into the whole fertility treatment thing–medications, regular doctor’s visits, the occasional shots. I only allowed myself a few minutes to feel bad about it as I sat in the doctor’s office and she looked at my ultrasound results and told me the news.
Ever the optimist and being
new naïve at this whole infertility thing, I thought—like any endeavour—if you just work at it and put your mind to it, you’ll achieve what you set out to do. I realized that’s not the case when I got my first negative pregnancy result.
And the few minutes I allowed myself to feel bad stretched longer and longer with every negative result. What would follow were bouts of self-pity and frustration, and hours lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and wondering why. Why can’t I get pregnant? Why can’t it be easy like how it is for other women? Why do I miss a child who’s not yet even here?
I had answers to some of the questions. But this still didn’t make things easier to accept. Traveling or even the anticipation of travel did.
More than taking it as an escape, I felt travel gave me a chance to pick myself up. Shake off the disappointment, frustration, and questions I didn’t have answers to and lose myself in something. Somewhere. Find little victories in making sense of an overwhelming train route in an unfamiliar city, in discovering gems of eateries, or just being somewhere I used to only dream of seeing.
When we came back from Japan, I dove right back into the whole fertility treatment—this time I tried acupuncture and drank this concoction that strongly smelled and tasted like soil and rust. Before the end of that year, when sticking needles and drinking dirt (okay, dirt-like mixture) didn’t work out so well, I found myself booking the tickets to fly to Vietnam and travel to Cambodia.
That’s when I also decided to start running again. I thought, I wasn’t going to put my life on hold, which was how it felt like every time we were on treatment; everything revolving around my body and how cooperative (or uncooperative) it was being. Interestingly enough, running also made me a little bit more determined. It made me appreciate more the fact of how everything—especially the goals you consider worth pursuing—takes time, like building your endurance or the distance you could run. And that maybe even getting pregnant needed a bit more time.
I got back into treatment. My months again revolved around doctor’s visits, ultrasounds, taking certain medications during certain times of the month, etc. The race I wanted to join in Angkor was set aside when a fertility procedure had to be scheduled a few days before the trip and the doctor advised me it wouldn’t be such a good idea to do the race. That it would be better to play it safe. By the time we got back to Saigon, I got my period.
The thing when you’re trying to get pregnant, you try to remain optimistic, you think this is it. Please be it. And no matter how often you see that single line on that stick, no matter how you’ve grown familiar with the emotions that come with it, it doesn’t lessen the blow. It’s as heartbreaking as the last time and you wonder how you can do it all over again.
Maybe it was a good thing we were traveling, because when we got back, we didn’t lose any time getting right back into the whole treatment again. When I got a negative result, we just did it all over again for the next month. And the next. And the next…
A month ago, after our last attempt was still unsuccessful, we made the decision to stop with the treatments. We haven’t stopped hoping that we’ll become parents, but I’ve started to open myself up to the possibility that maybe it just won’t happen to us the conventional way. Who knows.
Explorer and author Henry Ellis wrote, “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” And perhaps, the occasional trip won’t hurt.
After weeks of stopping myself from booking any trips, I finally gave in and bought tickets to Hong Kong last week. I’ve never been there and I’ve always wanted to see it–how it’s crowded and bustling and can get all lit up in neon. I want to see its skyline and harbor views as much as see the Chungking Mansions, home to Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express, which fed my interest in Hong Kong in the past. I want to get nourished by endless trays of dim sum, congee and noodles.
People travel for many different reasons. I realized, this was one of mine.