Even Lilliputian dreams are worth dreaming
My kids weren't too old to play at Valencia's Gulliver Park. And neither were we.
Call it my Lilliputian dream.
To bring my kids to Spain, so I could show them where I lived in college and take them to this whimsical park inspired by Gulliver Travels.
It wasn’t exactly a small dream, but for many years, it felt titanic.
The first part of this dream started as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Julian in 2006. I was 23 and just two years removed from living in southern Spain for my junior year of college. I was excited to become a parent, and also heartbroken that, in order to do so, I would have to set aside my plans to hit the road again.
Before too long, I had two little ones under the age of four, and those dreams of taking them — one day, ojalá — to see where I lived in Alicante was one of the only things that got me through the days when every extra cent I had went to daycare and diapers.
Fast forward to 2015, when I traveled back to Spain, alone, to nurse a broken heart. I still couldn’t really afford even a solo trip, but I needed the new perspective more than the money I’d stashed away in my savings account.
That’s how I found myself, a single mom traveling without her kids for the first time, backpacking through some of my favorite cities in Spain.
On one of those June afternoons, during a quick stop in Valencia, I put on my running shoes.
I’d never seen the architectural wonder that is Santiago Calatrava’s Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. (Calatrava is the architect behind those stunning white bridges in downtown Dallas, and the new Oculus Transportation Hub at the World Trade Center site in New York City.)
As I came upon the impossibly bright blue water surrounding these sprawling buildings, I stopped running long enough to catch my breath and record a video for my dad.
He loved to travel, and I wanted to send him a little surprise. “Hi, Dad! I just wanted to send a video to say hi and Happy Father’s Day, and show you this beautiful place that I probably would never have seen if you hadn’t given me the gumption to get out and see the world.”
If I’d known he’d be gone 3 1/2 years later, I would have insisted that he and I start planning one last trip of our own.
But this isn’t a story about grief.
It’s a story about a dream. One that was about to get even more precise just a few minutes later.