My best vacation ever came out of my only regret.
It was 1996, or maybe 1997, and my husband and I were poverty-stricken newlyweds living in a dodgy apartment (we once came home to find police surrounding one of the buildings, and later heard there were shots fired and people seen fleeing out of windows). Bruce worked at night, which meant in the evenings I was ready for happy hour and he was all set for bacon and eggs, and those were on the days we managed to see each other at all.
One day we were talking about regrets. No, my regret had nothing to do with signing a lease on that apartment (I won’t even tell you what we found in the stairwell one day). See, in college, I studied Italian for the simple reason that I flunked the Spanish placement test despite two years of perfect “A” grades in high school Spanish. I liked studying languages, and thought Italian sounded pretty. So I signed up, and really loved it. I took Italian for two years, and again, got A grades. Professore Francese tried to get me to study abroad one summer in Italy. I thought, there’s no way my parents could afford that, and I certainly can’t on my own.
I mentioned this to my mother off-handedly and she shocked me by saying, “Well, we could probably make it work.” Was I delighted? Did I start packing a bag? No. Not to put to fine a point on it, but I was a complete chickenshit. I didn’t go.
By the time I was a flat-broke newlywed in a not-at-all-lucrative career at a small-town newspaper, I thought for sure I’d missed my chance to visit Italy.
Bruce told me we should go to Italy as a couple. I probably laughed. But he convinced me we could start saving, just a bit here and there, whatever we thought we could afford. I think we started with $25 a month.
Four years later, we were sipping sparkling wine in a gondola in Venice, having already walked through the Colosseum, admired the Boboli Gardens in Florence, posed for goofy pictures in front of the leaning tower of Pisa, and drank Bud Lights sitting outside at a pub called Il Stregatto (the striped cat) while watching fashionable Italians stroll by.
So much for regret! That trip turned out to be the romantic honeymoon we couldn’t have dreamed of four years before, and the source of so many happy memories.
Come to think of it, it’s about time we start saving for another trip…
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