For months we planned and prepared, planned, prepared, and then prepared some more. Some hard good-byes and life as we knew it regressed to a small speck, fading from sight under the muted hum of our airplane.
After a blurry month or so of packing and unpacking, navigating, settling, meeting, exploring, beginning… we needed a break.
I am pretty sure we started out on this thing as a family. Or at least we sat together on the plane.
But somewhere between Joel’s long hours at work and Aiden’s departure for school, we felt a little less than connected.
So when Friday rolled around we silently agreed that the weekend was ours. As a family. Just the four of us in the strange city that drew us here.
I left for the city as usual, with a weight on my chest and tightening in my throat. The same anxiety that seems to accompany any departure from home lately.
But after a few obligatory “You have no idea where your going’s” and “This was a big mistake’s,” I stopped for a minute to look around. In the short walk from beautiful, four-story mall, to small, friendly bike shop, to picnic and play at the park, I noticed where we were.
And that we were not just tourists here. That all this was so close and that in a way I have yet to fully discover, it’s mine.
On the way back we sat on a bench, watching the kids scream-laugh with ice-cream drooling down their faces and shirts. And even though Aiden’s vanilla was actually rum-raisin and Finn spent more time climbing into the fountain than watching it, I felt content.
I smiled knowingly at a couple with a troublesome toddler of their own, breaking that pesky language barrier with the universal commonality of kids. I watched as an older lady took in the sight of our sticky, wild children with joy on her face.
And as I walked away I felt happy and relaxed and unwound.
The next morning we explored our own, little village, just a few minutes walk from our house. We enjoyed pastries and cappuccinos at the bakery, visited the hardware store and nursery, and bought Aiden his first real bike, training wheels and all, at the new bike shop.
And today, for the first time in over a month, we left the city limits. Just a short ride away lies a beautiful, though admittedly touristy town.
The cobblestone streets are spotted with artist, cafes, shops. Across the main road… a beautiful river walk where we enjoyed our first taste of a delicious pastry called
Langos (although if our kids ask, we were eating pizza).
And of course our favorite ending to any day… ice cream.
And with that we head into another week of school. Another week of separation and finding our own ways.
But it’s a little less scary now. Because in my slow way I’m beginning to discover that, while our lives are very much our own here, in an essential way we are still in this together. And I suppose that’s enough.