This morning, I received a text from my fifteen-year-old daughter stating, simply,
"I can see the castle!!!"
Those words heralded her arrival to Disney World in Orlando, and I was insanely excited for her. Having never visited anywhere "Disney", I am also a bit envious... as is her younger sister. We attempt to take comfort in the idea that the elder daughter will act as scout for a family visit sometime in the future.
In the meantime, however, I'm thrilled to death that my growing-up-way-too-fast girl is off on such an adventure. She will be performing with her high school band this week at the theme park, and while that performance is the main reason for the trip, it is also filled with lots of new experiences, sights and fun. Selling cookie dough and candles, wrapping paper and kitchenware via fundraisers for three years, and working a Saturday job sorting eggs at a local chicken farm since December, helped to pay her way to Orlando.
So, in addition to being insanely excited for her, I'm ridiculously proud of her. My shameless pride stems, in part, from the fact that of her very own accord, she packed my adventure sandals in her bag for the trip.
This girl of mine is very down-to-earth and tends to live in jeans, grey hoodies and sneakers. Shopping is not a favorite pastime of hers, and since she is disinclined to ask for anything at all for herself, we oftentimes find ourselves on the brink of an impending event, scrambling to find her some proper attire. Or, as in this case, footwear.
As she was packing for this trip, I raided my own closet and deposited my fairly scant sandal collection at her feet. In doing so, I pointed out the pros and cons of each pair, i.e. "cute but relentless devices of torture until you get used to them" or "comfortable but not up to the demands of walking all day on hot pavement."
Then, however, we got to the adventure sandals.
Those kicks are an old pair of leather Borns, approximately the same vintage as my traveling daughter. They are comfortable, sturdy, all-day walk-able, and they have served me well. Despite many attempts to find suitable (and possibly, more chic) replacements, I've never found a more comfortable, serviceable pair.
Those sandals have stories.
They've boarded the crazy, smoke-belching city buses in Puerto Vallarta which race pell-mell through the streets, clad with the sort of oversize tires one would expect on a pickup running a mud bog. Thankfully, they've safely disembarked those same buses.
They have booze-cruised, whale watched, and sailed the coastlines of Mexico, Jamaica, and three Hawaiian islands. They've dangled from a doors-off helicopter ride over Kauai, been to luaus, peered from the summit of Haleakala and explored the depths of the Iao Valley. They have trod the markets and quietly caressed my feet as I've haggled with vendors, walked the length of the Vegas strip and back again, perched on the dash of the rented Jeep with Sheryl Crow trilling about "soaking up the sun" as we've cruised the Maui coastline, played in the sand with my daughters on Waikiki.
My adventure sandals have been fishing, barbecuing, fireworks and parade watching, flea-marketing, road-tripping, bon-fire tending and Jamaican-dancing. (Thank you Lord, for the lack of video cameras in the vicinity on that last one.) Speaking of dancing, they've danced to Garth Brooks in Jamaica and to LMFAO on Kauai and to the Beach Boys on the swaying deck of a Mexican charter boat and... I digress.
The point is that it wasn't just a worn old pair of sandals that my daughter decided to pack in her bulging suitcase.
It was a part of me that I've passed on to her... a sense of adventure, a gypsy soul, a "let's do this" attitude, a practicality vs. fashion statement sensibility (after all, its no fun to be sidelined by blistered feet; been there, done that, got the t-shirt, not-going-back). The best part is that my daughter made the choice, not me. I left them as an option, then left the room. Upon my return, my adventure sandals were in her bag; the cute-blingy-uncomfortable sandals were discarded in the corner of her room.
In all that I've taught my daughter in the past fifteen years, my hope is that what she remembers when I'm someday gone is that I taught her to say yes. Yes to life, to adventure, to opportunity. To spring for the good shoes and the doors-off helicopter ride, to try the sushi (or calamari or jerk chicken or that weird fruit they don't sell in Minnesota), to dance on the beach when you get the chance, because we only live once and the ride is sometimes way too short. To be curious and bold, to always jump at the chance to see a new place or meet new people or try new food or ride on your belly in the net at the front of the sailing cat, because that's where you are closest to the dolphins...
I really hope she takes lots of pictures, and can't wait to see them. :)