We came. We saw. We … endured.
We did the unthinkable. Travelled for ten days. On the road. With our three children. In a sardine can of a car (Ford Fusion – sedan – shouldn’t complain really). To the east coast. To 6 different cities. To stay with 5 different families.
With three children. Three.
For ten days. TEN. DAYS. TEN. TTTEENNN.
Are you insane. is usually the statement – not even question – that I often received when I told people our plans. And the folks who saw our car. And the car seats that couldn’t be squeezed out without a massive shoe horn.
Someone reminded me that vacation with family is just a change of scenery. I would say that it is traveling to hell in a handbasket. A handbasket crammed with three children – 2 preschool age and one burgeoning toddler on the rampage. Needless to say, I’m ready for a vacation.
Despite the fly-by-the-seat-of-our-sweaty-pants insane and deranged schedules, the claustrophobia, and the disruption of any semblance of routine, to say the least, it was really … wonderful. Andy and I haven’t had long conversations in a while – and while many of them were actually pretty much arguments about everything from vocation, work, value to who was in control of the music and air conditioning to whether or not we should turn around and go back home – we talked. We talked to each other for more than 5 minutes at a time. We laughed. We reminisced. We cursed. We joked. We recommitted. We remembered. We felt. We loved. The point was that there was a “we,” and even with the kids, the “we” was experienced deeply, and in ways we hadn’t had in a while.
Perhaps there’s something to be said about visiting one’s old stomping grounds, the proverbial old haunts, the familiar streets where ghosts of old cars lining old houses that housed so many memories were waiting for us.
There’s something about walking the same path we walked Ellis when she was 8 weeks old – it was literally a block and took a half hour the first time we did it. There’s something about walking down Nassau Street in Princeton remembering all the walks and runs and skateboarding at midnight for Hoagie Haven that first summer. There’s something about people, being with people who remember with you and for you, and are present in all of life’s unspeakable questions, the ones we thought we’d never have to ask ever. There’s something about watching all our offspring together, all the kids running around in the backyard with Stuart Hall on one side and the seminary Chapel on the other, our damn kids running and chasing after a rabbit or catching fireflies to put in a jar.
Surreal. Miraculous. Gorgeous. All sorts of feelings.
It’s been about 5 days since we got back into town. I’m still in recovery mode. But I’m grateful. Distance and absence make the heart fonder and it applies to people and places. I remember why I love the East Coast. Those sacred places. And how important it is to do pilgrimage there. But, I’m thankful for this place, this town, this season. And so, yes, God, thank you for those roads, those grounds, those old ghosts.