An adventure is misery and discomfort relived in the safety of reminiscence.–Marco Polo
Looking back on all of this, I hope the kids think it is has been an adventure. I sometimes fear we are only creating therapy fodder.
We leave for 10 weeks on June 22, 2013. Five days from now. Between now and then, we’ll have a Spring Concert (complete with 3rd grade recorder chorus), 5th grade promotion (for which I still need to hang 91 photo posters of the ‘promotees’), awards ceremony, dance dress rehearsal and recital, two end of year celebrations, and a dog, turtle, four zebra fish and one beta fish to find homes for (animals are given as summer ‘loaners’ with the option to renegotiate in the fall). Of course, we’ll need to pack and get the house prepared for our absence.
This summer will be not include sleep-away camp, lazy afternoons by the pool, long bike rides, tennis lessons, campouts or sleep overs.
Instead, we’ll have nine weeks in Central America and one week in Florida. Nine weeks feels like a long time. I’ll be alone with two kids for four of those weeks as we wind our way down Central America, traveling from Belize to Panama.
Before we started planning this trip, I don’t think I could have even recalled all of the countries in Central America. Now as we plan the itinerary, study the map, decide between this city and that, each country is becoming more than an amorphous colored splotch on the map.
I’m nervous and sleepless and edgy and worried. I woke in a cold sweat the other night thinking that everything I need for 10 weeks needs to fit in a 35 pound pack. But, it’s more than just leaving the comforts of home. I’m worried that we’ll get lost or kidnapped or killed. I’m sure our packs will be too heavy and I’ll probably gain 15 pounds (it’s happened before on these summer trips). We’ll likely encounter spiders and dirty busses and bed bugs and get caught in rainstorms. We’ll freeze on over-air-conditioned buses, and I’m sure there will be lots of grumbling about being hot. No doubt someone will get sick, and I have limited knowledge about how or when to use the myriad of prescriptions we are hauling around with us. There will be tears from overtiredness, silly fights from nerves. The kids will make me promise to never, ever take them on a trip this long again, as I promise at some point every summer.
But we’ll also meet unforgettable people and hear their stories. From these chance encounters, we’ll briefly weave our lives’ threads with others. We’ll forever change our perspectives on life and love and family and politics and God and right & wrong. We will stretch and grow and change.
We’ll create family memories that only we will share. Intimacies and inside jokes and stories-turned-legends which we will relive again and again with each other as the years pass. These shared adventures and hardships and laughs will bind us together, if not for the mere need to relive a time in life when we were together and life felt like a winding road ahead of each of us. And as the years pass, and life gets more complicated for the kids, and Jorge and I lapse into the forgetfulness of the years, we’ll return to these memories. And in that safety of reminiscence, we will find each other again and relive the adventure.
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