Has your mother ever run away from home? Perhaps she’d like to, perhaps she wants to know how to do so. Read how this fifty-year did it. Your mother, sister, auntie, or YOU will love this how-to-guide,
Read this excerpt from the chapter “Mabel and I run away” Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad. ISBN 978-0-473-11675-0
EXCERPT copyright protected. The author – Heather Hapeta – is the owner of all her work
‘If the exploring of foreign lands is not the highest end or the most useful occupation of feminine existence it is at least more improving, as well as more amusing than crochet work’ Mabel Sharman Crawford said in 1863. This feisty woman became my mentor as soon as we met.
We met; well I met her, in a book called Maiden Voyages I bought in Portland, Oregon. By then, I had already run away.
In my late forties, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew I wanted more. Widowed – youngest child dead, two adult children away from home – and a secret desire to ‘do something.’
Friends hitting the brick wall called ‘50’ were not happy about the event. It’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, drummed in my head: on its way ready or not. I needed to change the perception of that fast-approaching milestone that those friends were giving me – that it was the beginning of a downward slide. How could I look forward to this half-century event?
The germ of an idea was conceived. A late developer in some areas, perhaps I could play catch-up with the traditional Kiwi penchant for travel. Apart from six weeks in the USA and four in Australia, my travels had been confined to the length and breadth of New Zealand.
Thwarted at 17 by parents who would not sign the consent form for my passport, I angrily cancelled a booking to sail to Australia. Three years later, married and pregnant, all thoughts of travel flew to the graveyard for stymied dreams. But maybe now, now that my body and the calendar are screaming that time is galloping on, it’s time to travel. That germ of an idea, like all living things, divides and multiplies.
Serious goal setting starts. I confide in friends who support my dreams and ignore the rest who say I am crazy. ‘What about your retirement? What will you live on?’ they ask. ‘Who cares’ I think. I intend to live until I die: I know life is short, the too-early deaths of my younger son Greg and husband Danny have shown me the tenuous hold we have on life.
Defiantly I put a sign on my notice board, AGING DISGRACEFULLY it says. Alongside it a list forms, Italy; Scotland; Ireland; Alaska; Zimbabwe, Turkey. As my bank balance grows, I measure it in chunks: enough for the plane ticket and then in multiples of 50 dollars – each chunk equal to a day’s expense as a frugal backpacker.