Odd Cookie, or: What Kind of Twenty-Something Wants to Travel With Her Grandmother?

Bless her, my grandmother loves to talk about my boyfriends. Her excuse for this is that she likes to have accurate information to pass along to her friends when they wonder if I’m a bit of an odd cookie. Of course my grandmother would never tell me that her friends might think I’m an odd cookie, but I can tell. I sometimes wonder if she thinks I’m a bit of an odd cookie too, because sometimes she says “Now, how many recent university graduates in their twenties would want to take a vacation with their grandmothers?”

In actual number terms, I have no idea how many people in my demographic would want to take a vacation with their grandmothers. It’s probably pretty irrelevant, because those people, whether they want to vacation with their grandmothers or not, are not me, and their grandmothers are not my Grandma. I know exactly the brand of odd-cookie that she’s trying not to suggest that I might be. Think about the picture you have in your head right now, of a young woman travelling with her grandmother.

I’d eat my hat if I thought you’d expect the granddaughter in this scenario to have a motorcycle license. I have one. I’m guessing that the profile of this young lady you’re imagining, though she might be a lovely individual, is not me. She’s probably not terribly socially adept, she doesn’t have much of a social life, does a lot of needlecrafts, isn’t terribly adventurous, is fairly dependent on the people around her, and is destined to one day become a crazy old cat lady.

Grandma likes to tell her friends about my boyfriends because she doesn’t want her friends to think that her granddaughter is a socially inept crazy cat lady in training. Basically, through her best intentions, Grandma has been lying to her friends, since most of the time I can’t honestly claim to be socially adept, and very likely will one day become a crazy cat lady. I like to knit and cross-stitch in my spare time, and I’m seldom found without a book in my hand, or at least in my purse.

But.

It’s a big “but”.

I also have a motorcycle license. I’m an avid dancer, I love to hike, bike, and trek. I like rock concerts and clubs. I studied Drama, and I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to do with my life. I studied abroad during university, and while there, I spent one of my holidays travelling through Europe, hitting seven countries and eight cities in three weeks. This summer, my schedule is almost as frenetic, going to a different summer camp each week to teach English.

So why on earth would I want to travel with Grandma, since I’ve obviously got a life of my own going on, and a rather exciting one at that?

I’ll start out with the most obvious: my Grandma is awesome. On both sides of my family, I come from an ancestry full of strong women, and my Grandma is no exception. She’s done a number of things that I couldn’t fathom. People called me brave for travelling around Europe by myself at age 20, in her twenties my grandmother was travelling across the Atlantic Ocean with a colicky, seasick, 11-day-old baby. I’m not sure you could pay me enough to take on that particular adventure. She’s full of stories. In the last three days I’ve heard more about her life, about my Dad as a teenager and as a young man, and about my grandfather who I don’t remember as well as I wish I did, then I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to have her all to myself, rather than vying for her attention and conversation against my two sisters and four cousins, all of whom are more used to asserting their wills over other people than I am.

Yes, I’m young. Yes, I’ve just finished university. Yes, piles of exciting things are going on in my life, tons of interesting opportunities. Many people in this demographic are completely broke, if not in debt. The vast majority of the people in this demographic don’t have a lot of money to spare, even if they’re doing all right for themselves, even if they’ve managed to put something away so they’re not living paycheque to paycheque. I haven’t got a lot of money to spare, but I have different priorities than many people I know. Travel is my passion, so while my friends are scraping together first and last month’s rent on their post-student apartments, saving up for their weddings, or down payments on houses, or buying CD’s and musical instruments, every spare penny I’ve got is going into travel. In this demographic, most people, if we’ve got anything to spare at all, only have enough for the things that are really important to us. Just like CD’s and down payments aren’t that important to me, travel isn’t that important to many of the people I know around my age.

Travel is not an inexpensive passion, and it’s for this reason that I wound up on my 3 week adventure by myself. Nobody I knew wanted to afford it.

Grandma is not a student or recent graduate anymore. She’s currently in an economic position where travelling with me is not going to put her in the poor house. If people in my demographic wanted to travel with me, I wouldn’t object to the company, and I don’t object to travelling alone, but Grandma, more than merely tolerating my presence on her vacation, valuing me as equal parts travel agent and tour guide, really wants to be travelling with me. Not just because I can be equal parts travel agent and tour guide, though those skills sure make the trip go more smoothly, but because of my company, because of ME.

I’ve already seen a number of the sights we’re going to see on this trip. I’m not here just because of the sights, though many of them are ones I could see again and again and never be bored. I’m here because I wanted to take a vacation with my grandmother.

I know I’m an odd cookie. A lot of the things that make me an odd cookie are the same things that make me want to travel with my grandmother. So maybe she’s misleading her friends a little bit when she talks about my boyfriends, trying to give the impression that I’m not a bit strange. Being a bit strange has certainly never stopped me from having friends, or boyfriends. So what kind of twenty-something recent university graduate wants to travel with her grandmother?

The same kind of twenty-something recent graduate that studies abroad, that gets a motorcycle license, that takes a summer job teaching English abroad, that has had boyfriends but doesn’t have one now, that dances like a maniac at rock concerts, that loves to go to the beach but can hardly swim, that regularly bites off more than she can chew, and that hasn’t got a clue what she’s going to do with her life.

The kind of twenty-something that is adventurous, fiercely independent, strong, resourceful, giving enough to routinely be called a sucker and probably too proud for her own good.

In other words, this kind of twenty-something.

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