We made it. Our European adventure has begun – in theory, at least. But it still feels like there’s a threshold or a doorway I’ve only perceived, one that I haven’t actually walked through yet.
After four days on the Cape, we said goodbye to family and hopped on a redeye to London. The flight was only six hours long, and the kids slept for about four or five of them. Tom and I, on the other hand, slept about 45 minutes each, thanks to the squirming, wriggling little ones beside each of us.
We slogged our way through that first day, everyone tired and bleary-eyed and cranky, and finally collapsed in our hotel room in the Cotswolds by 5:30 p.m. Brendan awoke in the middle of the night crying, and in my fatigue and haste to get to him, I fell down a flight of stairs. I lay awake for hours after that and the next morning I woke up with a sore bum and a swollen pinky toe colored purple, black and blue. It doesn’t hurt too much, though, so I’m assuming it’s fine. Onward.
We spent some time exploring the English countryside on Sunday, and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves. Everything is an adventure to them. Claire has started a new food journal and draws a picture of each new thing she’s tried. Chamomile tea and dried apricots are the biggest hits so far.
I won’t lie – traveling with kids is hard. Everywhere we go, we seem to be surrounded by quiet, polite and mostly adult Brits. Our kids, in comparison, are generally well-behaved but also loud, boisterous, little Americans. Brendan in particular seems to speak in shouts. I cringe every time we take him into a restaurant or public place.
I keep thinking of the title of one of the first books I ever read on meditation, called Wherever You Go, There You Are. Geography doesn’t change the fact that we are who we are. My kids are exactly the same little beings as they were at home in California. I’m the same, too – even on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts, I'm still struggling to maintain a connection to the Divine amidst constant interruptions and daily chaos.
I refuse to accept that such a connection is impossible. I want to have my cake and eat it, too, dammit. Maybe that’s what this trip is all about – finding balance. Finding a way to get what I need and make sure everyone else gets what they need, too. I practice here, in foreign surroundings, so that I can take home what I’ve learned. This is the goal, at least.
We only had a half-day to explore the Cotswolds a bit more today before we were back in the car again for another long drive, headed to a hotel near the airport in anticipation of an early morning flight to Crete.
Tomorrow, I tell myself. Tomorrow my toe will be less purple. Tomorrow we’ll get to unpack and stay settled a bit. Tomorrow I’ll get to walk through the vacation threshold in my mind.