I am named after the Miss World Universe from 1961, so my mom told me when I was a little girl. I had such trouble spelling my name in kindergarten especially compared to my pals Beth and Al. I so wanted to change my name and begged my mom to let me. She smoothed my hair and convinced me to practice spelling Audrianna for another week and then we would talk about other names. Luckily, it figured it out. And I love my name now.
My middle name is Joy after my mom. She gave that to me when I was struggling with the spelling of the first one. She was Nancy Joy and wrote a food column and signed her name as Njoy – as in, enjoy yourself! I loved that. After she passed away and when I married I officially changed my middle name with my last name. Now, I feel another connection to her to help me through the tougher days.
I was born in Southern Idaho, in a conservative town of just over 5000 people. One stoplight, one newspaper once a week. I think the town was our daycare as I don’t remember a time during the summer when we had someone ‘watch us’. I remember bike riding to the swimming pool, getting still warm glazed donuts from our little bakery, swimming in canals on hot summer days, neighborhood kick-the-can tournaments, snow days with drifts taller than my head and exploring the lands beyond the farms, the other side of Craters of the Moons and City of Rocks long before rock climbers found it.
I grew up youngest of four and had that experience of having a house full and being the only child while finishing high school. I look back at my teenage years and see that I am now the age my mom was when I was a senior and she seemed to be all put together. What a perspective she had.
I grew up and left home the day after graduation to go nanny in Chicago. That opened the door for me as a traveler. For the next twelve years, I compiled a list of 42 addresses I had at one time or another. Some short-term but all were places I had mail delivered. I found my home where I hung my hat. I lived, studied, worked and travelled overseas for a five years intermixed with living stateside in New York City, Philadelphia and Santa Barbara among other places. I found something that fed my soul. A plane ride for me was a like jumping on a trampoline. I was exhilarated and felt light tingles in my stomach knowing I was going to end up somewhere different. I loved it.
In 2000 while living and working in the Netherlands, I received the news that my mom was diagnosis with terminal cancer. I flew back and forth a couple of times over a couple of months before I made the choice to ‘come back home’ to be nearer to her. My thought was, “I can always get another job, I can’t get another mom.” My mom passed in October 2001 and earlier that summer I met the man who would become my husband and fellow traveler.
I needed to find my way again. Losing my mom put a lot of things in perspective. We travelled some (Tahiti, New Zealand, Western Europe) before our embarking on our chapter of becoming parents. This is an amazing, rewarding and unique journey in itself. We grew our careers; I became a psychotherapist in private practice and my husband a chef that taught others how to become chefs and run restaurants. We want to use and practice our skills outside of our comfort zone in Portland, Oregon.
Our boys are now seven and nine. We are ready to take them on a world-wide journey to see some things we have found amazing but, also to discover together. It will be hard, scary, exciting, lonely, exhilarating and full of surprises and I am ready. I don’t know if we all are but, we will get there. This blog is in part about that preparation of that journey and the outcomes.