So tonight is our last night of the big adventure – on land. Tomorrow night we will be flying high in the sky en route to Sydney, Australia – our final destination, our last stop, home. Though I have thought of this moment, imagined this last stretch of the trip – it feels nothing like I had expected. I even felt a little anxious tonight – nothing exactly coming to mind why – but that uneasy feeling in my body that I know all too well.
When I think of being back in Australia, when I close my eyes and tap into my body and my heart and my whole being – I have this sense that the girls are drifting from me, floating from being by my side. And though I know it’s ‘normal’ and even good that they will feel so comfortable and at home and have their friends and our family and their familiar life to hold them – I will deeply miss our togetherness. It has been the greatest time of bonding for the four of us, the most wildest and precious time of my life.
It is like I have had them both in my two pockets, each on one side of me and now I have to let them out to the big wide world, which of course is ironic because we have just been in the big wide world. But because home is familiar to them, it is safe and known, I feel I will need to release them more now, they will want to spread their wings now, soar above friendly shores and I must surrender.
It reminds me of how I feel when they sleep in my bed or just even in our room – aside from the fact that I sometimes sleep without my pillow, half a blanket and someone’s foot in my face – I love it. I love knowing they are near me, they are safe, they are warm, I am with them. This may sound like helicopter parenting to the max for some readers and simple attachment parenting to others. We all find our way. But reflecting now, I see how this trip has given us so much treasurable time together with Noa and Lina. We may do it again some day but right now we are going back home to Australia and already I can sense the eject button from our big adventure away.
I remember when I was 18 and my family was going through a crisis. We were driving in Sydney, my parents and my sisters and I all packed into our car, my dad driving aimlessly around the eastern suburbs, his stress and sadness palpable to us all. As we drove up heartbreak hill, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge to our left, he said, ‘Everything I love is in this car’. It was a painful moment, we were all very worried and my dad sharing this at that moment felt so raw and honest. I understood his sentiment then, that his whole world was in the car that day, but now I understand it with more empathy.
When we drove around in Danke Van I often remembered that line from my dad. Not in that same crisis mode but as just a moment of being present to what I had with me and why I loved being in the van all together. It also brings to mind a memory from Guy and my travels in India. We weren’t married yet and our relationship was still quite new. We were in a small city called Jaisalmer on the edge of the deserts of Rajasthan. We stayed in a small palace run by a family and on arrival we were greeted by the father, a robust looking man, round and cheery, who lay on his side at the entrance like a big Buddha. The palace was a few stories high and had a handful of rooms for guests. We were the only guests staying at that time and had our pick of rooms. One night we returned home and there in the foyer of the palace, an area that doubled as the family’s living room, lay all the family members on the floor sleeping together. I remember being amazed that they chose to do this even though there were empty rooms upstairs, rooms with four poster beds and en suite bathrooms and gorgeous views from the windows.
But now I get it. Maybe it is all just about togetherness. Maybe at the core of our big adventure, in amongst the travel and meeting old friends and the undoing of routine and being on the road and discovering new places, sights, smells, tastes – maybe this whole epic journey has just been about togetherness.
Before we embarked on this trip Guy met up with John Ahern, the author of On the Road with Kids. John and his wife and two kids did a similar trip 10 years ago when their kids were two and five. At their meeting John and his wife told Guy that they wished they could do it again. I was a little surprised to hear this, that 10 years later they were still romanticising this trip. But of course now I get it. We will travel, we will adventure and we will continue to live wildly and preciously. But this sort of togetherness, this van life with our children is inimitable and though we will try to sustain the essence of it in our every day life, I can see how living so closely together, living in each other’s pockets, sharing one very small galaxy, provided us with a space to connect in so many ways. After some time we created our own force field, a shared energy that spiralled and zigzagged and boomeranged between our four posts.
I think back now to all the arguments along the way, the challenges, the highs and lows, the joys and the grief – it was all so very real and unedited. Conversations we wouldn’t have had in front of the girls – we had, tears otherwise shed in privacy – were had. There was a transparency to our interactions and relationship – an honesty that although felt at times confining – was ultimately met. Noa and Lina were present to the full gamut of emotions and were able to witness an argument be resolved, a moment of grief be explored and shared, infectious laughter be enjoyed. We went through it all. Together. I will cherish this time with a full heart and look forward to moments in our future when we return to that field, that galaxy, when our souls remember that journey together.
We Go Together (Grease)
We go together
Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong
As shoo-bop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom
Chang chang changitty chang sha-bop
That’s the way it should be