Discovering Myself in a Horse’s Mouth

I’m starting to look forward to my post-wander Travel Therapy sessions as much as my actual wanders. They’re not always pleasant, but I’m realizing that avoiding all things unpleasant has stunted my growth over the past 40 years. After my recent family trip to Cabo San LucasI ended up discovering myself (at the temporary cost of my usual graciousness). You’ve been forewarned…


“Every woman must own her story; otherwise we are all part of the silence.” | ZAINAB SALBI


“Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” For some reason, as a young girl I took this cliché and ran a lifetime marathon with it. For the last 41 years, I have placed everyone who gifted me even the tiniest of kindnesses before me, teaching myself and everyone else that I was at the back of the line. But, now that I’m in Travel Therapy, the running must stop.

Today, I’m giving myself permission to put myself first and examine a certain gift horse’s mouth.

The gift was an (almost) all expense paid family wander to Cabo San Lucas for my husband’s corporate recognition event. Sounds awesome, right? All graciousness aside, only the “family” part did it for me…the rest was completely out of sync with my soul. At times it was almost torturous…and, I want to understand why.

The first torture session took place at our very own front door. A few minutes after lugging my bag to the front door and confirming that I had four boarding passes, four passports, two children, and three suitcases, my husband walks up. He was in possession of his suitcase, his wallet, and no idea where his company was sending his family for his corporate recognition conference.

“You don’t know?,” he (seriously) asked.

Now, from the outside looking in, this may seem like a typical minor marital irritation that deserves nothing more than an “Oh, Honey.” But, it’s SO much more to me…which is why there are many who classify me as a raging bitch. To them I would say…you do not walk in my 16 year old shoes. Moments like this are not irritating, they are crippling. After these words were uttered, I wobbled there a moment…simultaneously feeling the need to shriek and weep. Where is the partnership in this marriage???

A quick phone call to his other surrogate mother (the secretary) had us soon heading to Riu Palace in Cabo.

Were I in charge of booking accommodations, I’m sure I could have rooted out the charming side of Cabo San Lucas. But, I wasn’t…so I couldn’t. From the Riu Palace point of view, Cabo was:

  1. Crammed. The density of rambunctious tourists, burned out staff, and aggressive peddlers per square inch of beach- and poolside real estate made serenity a rare commodity.
  2. Wasted. Bartenders shook, blended and poured copious amounts of booze to a constant flow of young and middle aged spring breakers.
  3. Empty. The native civilization that once was has been silenced by disinterested tourists…and the Macarena blaring out of poolside speakers.
  4. Commercial. Visitors are treated as a source of funds, not living breathing human beings.
  5. Dishonest. Timeshare hawkers and tour companies beg, cheat and steal to clinch any and every potential deal.

I’m either missing something or this is yet more evidence of my freakishness. Cabo is a popular getaway, particularly for my fellow San Diegans. Even my mom-friends have toyed with the idea of escaping here sans husbands and kids. Once again, when everyone wants to go right, I’m gazing off to the left. Even on mini-wanders, I crave connection, culture, depth, intermittent solitude…and, an occasional cocktail. I want to see something I haven’t seen before, eat food I’ve never tasted before, converse with people who are having a completely different experience on this planet and who savor a cultural exchange. I don’t want a brand name vacation to a chain destination.

And, being there with the corporates was the icing on the churro. I reverted to my angsty teenage self, trying too hard to fit in, swallowing words that might be construed as odd or controversial, and biting my tongue lest the drunken sailor-ess pay a visit. I thought it would be easier with them. Although I don’t walk to the beat of a same church organ as them, we do share conservative Republican views (including wholehearted support of Prop 8, California’s initiative against gay marriage that will be on the upcoming ballot). But, I’m feeling exactly the same as I do back in the burbs with my mom-friends and neighbors…out of place and out of sorts. If I didn’t know what it feels like to hang with my tribe, I’d be worried that I’m socially defective. But, I shine with my tribe.

My inner voice is turning up the volume…

“Keep looking…until you see everything.

I shall. I promise me, I shall continue to keep discovering myself, even if…

In my next Travel Therapy session, I realize there is perfection in imperfection after a wet and wonderful family vacation in Ireland.