Monthly Archives: May 2014

This Summer Leave the Baggage at Home

Andrea Freedman

Every summer I think back nostalgically to my backpacking trip to Europe twenty-eight years ago. Although it was one of my most fun summers, even after all this time, I still think it could have been just a tiny bit better if I had not had a boyfriend back home to worry about.

Undoubtedly a whole new flock of teenagers and young adults eager to experience the world on their own first time will be heading to Europe or some other exotic destination this coming summer.

I urge all the young women out there, if you have a boyfriend, to seriously think about breaking up with him or putting your relationship on hold until after your trip. If it is meant to be between you, you will get back together when you get home; but you may never have this chance for freedom again.

Ask yourself if it is really worth it. Deep down, do you think at this young age you are ready to make a life-time commitment? If you are really honest with yourself, the answer will be no, or at least that you are not sure.

To all the moms out there, it is up to you to lead your daughters in the right direction, by talking to them and asking them to read this post, and ensuring that they are equipped with proper birth control and STD prevention methods – just in case.

Looking back, the guy I left behind when I went to Europe spent the summer waiting for me to get home; I on the other hand was branching out. It was my first experience being away from home with friends and no adult supervision and as far as I was concerned, it was only the beginning of what I hoped would be more travelling. I was in no way thinking of getting married or ready to take on the responsibility that comes with such a serious relationship. If only I had had the courage to be honest with myself, I could have saved myself and, possibly my boyfriend, a lot of heart-ache.

Even in those days, breaking up with someone for the sole purpose of being single on vacation might have been frowned upon, not only by a boyfriend, but also by parents, mine in particular. It would have implied that I wanted to be free sexually. It is too bad I was not strong enough not to care what anyone else was going to think.

I knew the guy I was going out with at the time would not understand. He wasn’t thrilled that I was going on the trip in the first place. I wished I could have talked openly about my dilemma with my parents, or at least my mother. Instead, I kept it to myself and stayed upstairs sick for three weeks before my departure date, throwing up and weak. My mother was right downstairs, trying to nurse me back to health. She knew how important this was to me. It had been in the planning for more than a year. What she didn’t know was the real cause of why I was feeling so ill in the first place.

It was not only the aspect of being free to have romantic interludes with other people that was the problem, but also the emotional side of it. If I called home to my boyfriend while I was travelling and there was one mistaken word between us, I would hang up the phone feeling anxious, when all I should have been feeling was fun and carefree.

It is not easy to find yourself with someone standing in your way. There is a feeling in the air that someone back at home just can’t understand, especially if he or she is the jealous type.

In a way, I guess the voice I had in my head of the promise I had made to stay loyal kept me safe. Nevertheless, twenty-eight years later, I would still advise young people travelling this summer to do it without any entanglements or complications to worry about back home. You may think I sound cold now, but – and I can’t believe I am about to say this – you will understand when you are older. I am not trying to suggest that all relationships are doomed or that none are worth holding onto. I am merely saying that at such a young age, and during what could be the trip of a lifetime, it is a shame to let anyone prevent you from enjoying it to the fullest.

As much as you think you are in love at the age of nineteen or twenty, chances are more than likely that you will not end up with this person in the long run. So, save yourself the grief and regret, and make the most of your travel experience this summer.

You may miss your boyfriend at some moments while you are away. That is okay and it’s also only natural. After all, they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. It could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to your relationship, even if you do happen to stray while on your travels. If not, you will not be sorry that you didn’t prolong things unnecessarily.

It is true you could risk him also seeing other people while you are gone, but the truth is – and you may not like this – he may do that anyway. Imagine how you would kick yourself then!

So, this summer, take it from a more mature, experienced woman and travel lightly. And remember, you will never look back and regret having too much fun.♠


Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014



If you are a golf widow like me, click the link below to read my article Foouuurrr! for some tips on surviving the golf season:

2014-05-27 12-31

As published in the April 16, 2013 EastYorker community newspaper.


Happy Birthday to Me

Andrea Freedman

As my dad’s birthday is only two days before mine, my family usually gets together in between the two dates to celebrate. Recently, that time of year rolled around once again. Something made me ask my dad if there was anyone who had not called him this year to wish him happy birthday.

“I’d rather focus on who did call me, not who didn’t,” he said. When I thought about my wise father’s response, I realized he made a lot of sense.

While it is nice to get phone calls on your birthday from well-wishers, there are certain people who, for one reason or another, either choose not to call or simply forget.

There have been times I have resolved to stop wishing some people happy birthday, since they don’t bother doing the same for me. However, by the time that person’s birthday rolls around, it is more likely than not that I will end up calling them as I always have. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and if you genuinely want to extend good wishes to someone, it need not be contingent upon whether or not they think to do the same for you.

The bottom line is everyone has to do what makes them feel comfortable, even if that includes wishing someone happy birthday, regardless of whether or not they ever reciprocate.

In most cases, I don’t think there is any malice or ill-will if someone forgets or just doesn’t get around to calling. Nevertheless, I have known some folks who end up feeling sad and let down every single year on their birthday, as they are counting on others who, in their opinions, just don’t measure up.

I have come to the conclusion that the trick to enjoying your birthday is not to let it depend on the actions of others.

The fact is it is up to each of us to make the most of our own birthdays. There is really no point in wasting your birthday keeping a tally of who calls you and who doesn’t. If one puts the fate of his or her birthday – or any day for that matter – into others’ hands, he or she is more than likely to be disappointed.

As it turned out, I had a lovely birthday this year. The people closest to me made me feel special, and I was happy with how my day turned out. Hopefully, it will set a positive tone for the upcoming year.

The next time your birthday rolls around, hopefully you will be too busy having fun to notice or care who doesn’t call. If anyone remembers, think of it as a bonus; but no matter what, celebrate yourself, and embrace the good things in your life … like having another birthday.♦



Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014