OPINION: I'm truly not exaggerating when I say I've wanted to do my OE for as long as I can remember, and it's all thanks to my mum - which makes not being able to share my experiences with her bittersweet, writes Alana Dixon in Uptown Girl.
She was married at 18 and a mother at 21.
As I've mentioned before, calling my mother strong-willed is an understatement. So to me it's not really surprising that she so diligently instilled all of her could-have-beens in her daughters.
All my life, I grew up inherently just knowing I would one day head off to university, find a career and, last but not least, get countless stamps in my passport and exotic tales in my repertoire.
Ever since she died, everything I have done has been with the thought, "What would Mum think of this?" in the back of my mind - and on no occasion more so than when I started planning my foreign adventures.
Preparing to add to my great big Checklist-Of-Life does come with the addendum of feeling a bit lost and, to tell the truth, gutted for her.
I felt it keenly when Mark and I, along with our friends Miranda and Fowler, visited the Killing Fields and S-21 in Cambodia in January.
Mum was such a compassionate person. She was also a bit of a history buff, so shared what she knew of horrific world events with us. She told me about the Khmer Rouge, and we'd watched The Killing Fields together.
Both of us cried. A lot.
Maybe in a more subtle way, but no less poignantly, I had the same feeling when I stood outside Janis Joplin's house in Haight Ashbury on a visit to San Francisco a couple of years back. I remembered her singing Me and Bobby McGee and I got a big lump in my throat.
Mum had a whole (albeit short) lifetime of likes and dislikes and memories. I feel when I am travelling now that I'm taking that tapestry of experiences along for the ride with me, but I'd be lying if I said thinking about this before I head away for my next instalment hasn't opened an already painful wound.
I'm excited for what I know will be an amazing trip, but there's definitely an underlying sadness there.
I know deep down that she's still getting to visit all of these places with me - I dare anybody to suggest otherwise - but it's not really the same, is it?
I will get to see the Eiffel Tower, stand gazing into the mist at Machu Picchu, and gorge myself silly on tapas in Barcelona.
She won't, and that stings.
- The Southland Times