Updated: Sep 2, 2019
I’m not sure how this idea became reality…. Like lots of other overly busy people, for years(decades) we’ve fantasized about chucking it all, buying a house in a foreign country, or perpetually traveling like one of those fanciful movies we all like to watch. “A Good Year”, “Under The Tuscan Sun”, “Eat Pray Love”, I’ve seen them all numerous times, watching and re-watching certain parts over and over again. Oh the conversations my wife and I had!.... dreaming, planning, even scheming about our break from reality….we talked about houses, villas, apartments, décor, plants, driveways, crops we would have, who would visit, who we would invite…planning our life getaway in intimate detail. When we finally went to bed it was in a tipsy stupor, confident that our lives were going to change immeasurably. Our attitude as our head hit the pillow was of hope, smug superiority, even a Manifest Destiny attitude that we were absolutely doing this. It was inevitable, just, even Moral!...... and it was going to be perfect.
The next morning brought none of those euphoric feelings, only a fogginess that can had when you combine too much wine, too much hope, mingled with a lot of reality. And so began the next day…. me off to work, the kids to school, my wife to her errands and work, and the crushing responsibilities and busy-ness that made us drink 14 hours earlier…
This plan didn’t magically appear, nor was it completely thought out. It was always in the back of my head, waiting for the perfect time….except there was no perfect time to do this. There was only time, passing constantly. My 8 year old became a 12 year old, then she was driving, then she was 18, then she was dating and now she’s 20. My two youngest are now 10 and 7. There was no: “its now or never” moment, it was much different. Much like romantic feelings that have been suppressed, all it takes is a spark, a hole in the dam, and all those old, passionate thoughts come flooding back into play. For this, I actually have my mother in law to thank.
My mother in law moved away from her grandchildren in Phoenix, AZ to retire to Ecuador, but comes back frequently: every 6-8 months or so to see us, visit her doctors and get treatments. Instead of twice monthly dinners with the extended family when she lived here, it was now an invasion for 4-6 weeks at a time. When I say invasion, I’m not referencing the Allies’ liberation of France, instead picture the Visigoths sacking Rome. Sure, we would have some fun, some decent conversations, but mostly it was exhausting. Take Thanksgiving day with your extended family, with all its fun, joy at seeing people you haven’t seen for months, the camaraderie, but also the insults, silent judgements, arguments and general irritations that can only be administered by extended family….. and then realize that they aren’t leaving after dinner, that you have to do it again, for 40 more days. This year was different though: my brother in law and his wife also moved to Ecuador to live a simpler life, and now they had to come back for a month as well. We were going to have my brother in law and his wife for 30 days, have 4 hours of rest and then my mother in law and her husband would be visiting us for another 30 days. In fact, my brother in law left on the exact same plane that my mother in law flew in on. As it happened, they literally passed each other in the airport.
Back to my inspiration: When my wife told me they were coming, I was very irritated at first, but then, I spied an opportunity: I could take a trip during the dog days of this “invasion” and it would be completely understood, even championed by my wife. If there were ever a time to take another trip to Europe without my wife, this would absolutely be it. I had always wanted to see the D- Day sites in Normandy, France. I have been many times to France, but always with family and with too little time to see anything militarily substantive. This trip would be different. I called my brother and his wife and my brother in law, and we hatched a 13 day plan, go to London for a few days, then Normandy for a full glorious week, ending in Paris. I wont go into too many details with the trip, but when I left, I was in a travel/life rut: I didn’t have the energy and motivation to go anywhere. I hadn’t been anywhere inspiring for 2 years. All I did was work, stay home, drink wine every evening and cook elaborate meals that my kids didn’t want to eat. Now everything is different.
When I came back, I WAS BACK. And now I want to go back.