This. Is. Happening. Yikes!
That was the text I got from Vinnie as he left work, on the day that we took off for this adventure.
I think we all felt that. We all were a little unsure of what exactly we were doing, how the kids would handle all of the planes and taxis, subways and long, long walks. Personally, I felt a sense of responsibility – what if my family didn’t love Romania? What if all of my glossy memories and deep-seeded affection for this country were all, only my own. These kids have done Disney World, twice…how would a country of cows and cobblestones, and nary a costumed character or amusement park ride in sight, compare?
Worse, what if Vinnie, whom I have begged to go with me for almost two decades, didn’t like it? What if I had spent time and money and energy on a purely selfish pursuit and dragged my poor family along?
We arrived at our last rental house of this journey a couple hours ago. It’s a two story home with three bedrooms and a large fenced in yard with a swing set. Asher and Evie followed closely behind the owner as he showed us around, proudly displaying their Romanian language skills. Sus! Multumesc! Bun! Bine!
Lila has told me, I could live here.
They liked it.
They really, really, liked it. (And my heart has melted a thousand times over.)
I know it sounds silly, it’s a vacation, what’s not to like? But, this was a very different vacation for us. It was an education – on culture, on history, on language, on geography. This was a vacation of learning – both about the world beyond our borders, but also the world, right here, within our own family.
It hasn’t been all as perfect as pictures suggest, it’s been arguments over who’s sitting where in the car. It’s been days spent on long walks or hikes, often carrying a six year-old, or constantly looking over your shoulder to do a headcount and beg your eight year old to catch up. It’s been six bodies spending a whole lot of time in small, bump-up-against-one-another spaces, in places where the door gets left open and flies buzz at your eardrums just as you’re drifting off to sleep. It’s three out of those six people being struck with a touch of a stomach bug, all at once. It’s not sleeping well and then waking up, packing up and moving from place to place.
Last night, it was me, being struck by the worst fever I’ve had in ages, trying to sleep through the shivers and then waking up at sun-up with a pair of aggressive flies bombarding my ears.
Oh my goodness, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it, not a single second of the occasional complaining or hoisting Evie up on my hip to weave through a market square, no question. I wouldn’t want any of my money back, the richness of this trip has been priceless.
It was worth it to fall in love, all over again, with each one of these people I call my family – for unique and wonderful reasons. Evie is a riot with incredible comedic timing. Lila is a storyteller and creative, independent sweetheart. Asher has an insatiable curiosity and a great sense of adventure. Alex is a little of all of the above, and growing into a strong leader for them as a sibling group.
Ten years from now, they will be 22, 20, 18 and 16, respectively. The time for this trip – was now. You don’t get to retroactively make memories, when it fits in with your long term plan, no matter how well intended that is. Life is in the moment, and, though this trip gave us all a fluttering anxious feeling of jumping off of a plane (Welp, here we go!) – it was exactly the jump that we needed.
On the ride between Arefu and Bucharest, Vinnie and I talked as the kids read or dozed off in the backseat. Is there anything you’re truly passionate about, or anything you really want to do? I asked – (because you can be married to someone for fifteen years and still need to ask such a question. We’re always changing and growing, and after a trip like this, where I fulfilled one of my passions in getting here, it seemed fitting.)
His reply, was simple, and a bit of a step forward from the text he sent just a couple weeks ago: “I’d like to travel more. There are more places I want to see.”
And so, we’re winding down this adventure and knowing that there will be more adventures to look forward to, together, already. There are many reasons to travel – to celebrate Vinnie graduating from his Masters, Iceland, maybe? Australia at some point? A cruise in the Mediterranean for our 20th anniversary, etc – but the only real reason we need, is that we want to.
And our kids want to, too, without reservation. If I’ve given them anything at all throughout this adventure, I hope it’s that they’ll always have a sense of adventure and the gumption to follow where their hearts take them (even if it takes seventeen years, like it did for me.)