Sunday, May 08, 2016

I know in just one short year this photo will be hopelessly outdated. I know they will look so different, again. In a year, Brody will probably be taller than his sisters. But for now? This is my favorite picture of my kids.

photo cred to Gracie

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Where to Begin... Alright, Paris It Is!

I don't know how to organize these posts about The Trip. Should I go day by day? Favorite memory first? Worst then best? What I Missed? No idea.

I think I'll start with the things I'm afraid to forget...

like the look on Ty's face when he raced ahead to have a private moment staring at the Eiffel Tower. He had that look often. Awe. Transcendence. Joy. Peace. I don't know that I've ever seen him look that way, except maybe after a really good day flying. And all the times he smiled at me. Just for me. A thank you smile. A I'm having so much fun smile.

like... Gracie's excitement at ushering us into the last room at Harry Potter. Her eyes were so bright, her eyebrows raised, her smile wide as the moon. Not for her own joy, but for the joy she knew Brody would have.

like... seeing my husband laughing in the Wren's kitchen, joyous and relaxed. I didn't realize how really stressful his life is until I saw him out of it for a while.

like... watching my Dad walk with his hand on one of my boy's necks. It was pure affection. He is an adventurer, my dad. A Bilbo Baggins at six feet tall. He loved the new places, the photo opportunities. And he NEVER sat on the subway if there was a lady standing. Not even once. Even with arthritis in both knees.

I loved watching the sun set in Paris. Everywhere you look is a different sunset. The buildings reflect it in a million different ways. The park across from the apartment had a playground and the sounds of the children diminished with level of the sun. But once the sun was gone, it was like the city took a deep quiet breath and then, poof, lit up like the Milky Way. It's the prettiest city I've ever seen.

I was surprised at how much I loved Sacre Couer and Montmarte. We wandered around, Maggie, Chris and I, on a Sunday afternoon and walked through the flea market. It was a carnival. I don't know that Chris enjoyed it like I did, he was busy being my watchdog. But oh, Sacre Couer, what a beautiful place. It ties the Eiffel Tower in my mind.

After the almost silent world of London, all of Paris felt painfully alive. Music everywhere, on the streets, in the subway tunnels, even in the trains themselves. People talk to each other in Paris. More so than in London. More than in Springville. There is art and music and the smell of good food (and urine, lest I forget). The senses cannot be dull there.

Our waiter in our favorite restaurant in Paris wanted to marry Maggie. He was a small thing, sweet, silly. He made Maggie smile. He flirted like a Parisian. She asked me what to do about it. I told her to flirt back. She was shocked. But it is okay for her to smile and be young and remember that there is still hope for love. What better place to do that than in Paris?

Our apartment in Paris was my favorite. It was an ancient building with a central courtyard and a winding staircase, with floors that slope and not a plum line in the place. It was perfect. Plus, it had two toilets and that's important. The supermarket was half a block away and sold everything we needed. Soap, deodorant, kiwis, milk, cocoa crisp cereal and the most amazing chili flavored tortilla chips ever. Ironic. The coffee in Paris was all espresso, all the time. I didn't know until later how to order what I wanted. The people in Paris were kind, helpful and responsive. They smile if you smile. They help if you are humble.

We spent a day in Bayeux, on the Normandy coast. It had the potential to ruin my trip. I had my heart set on seeing Mont St Michel, but after over an hour and three phone calls, never could find the rental car place. They refunded my money after the national representative was also screamed at in French by the local manager. Chris gathered my tearful self in his arms and led me into a beautiful day. He and I and the girls wandered through the same stone streets William the Conqueror walked. We explored the crypt of the cathedral and ate the best food we had the whole time in France. It was glorious. Freezing cold, but glorious.

 But of all these things, Chappelle de Nesle was my favorite. Pronounced Sha-pelle de Nell, it is a reformed evangelical church plant in the heart of Paris. We worshiped with brothers and sisters we never knew existed. And some of them, our first conversation will be in heaven when we can speak the same language. What a glorious day that will be.

My hand is tired and I'm barely even started. I guess that's enough for now.

Trip Post Number 1, or Getting My Toes Wet

As usual when blogging my mind is in a swirl. I can only seem to tame it when I write it all out.

We've been home from Europe for just less than a week now. And yes, I am aware of how pretentious that sounds, but keep in mind I had to look up 'pretentious' to know how to spell it.

We were gone three weeks and even knowing that those three weeks could change me did not really prepare me for how they actually did. I experienced freedom from details, chores, maintenance of material possessions, obligations, and even freedom from goodbyes to my immediate family. I experienced the simple quiet relief of being with my dad every day. I experienced watching my own country through the eyes of the rest of the world and the grinding sorrow that it brought. I lived out of a backpack for three weeks, and although not exactly easy, it was freeing somehow. Now all my possessions feel slightly claustrophobic.

To have three weeks with a daughter recovering from heartbreak, a son about to leave home for college for the first time, a husband whose job sucks the joy from his body and a father who serves the Lord relentlessly -  it was a gift. A beautiful, rose-tinted, amazing gift that I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my days. To hold my baby/almost-teenager's hand through the streets of Rome and take silly selfies and share raised eyebrow glances at the world around us was a treasure. I could almost visibly see my youngest daughter's wings unfurl.

I think I said in a post once before that everyone should travel. I think, looking back now, that I was defending myself from criticisms but all I did was deflect the criticism onto other people. I feel ashamed. Travel is like a sweet jewel to my heart that I wish I had never shown anyone because my jewel is different from your jewel. My sweetness is not the sweetness others feel. I should shut up more often.

And yet, here I am, not shutting up.

I want to write all the details of this trip so that ten, twenty years from now, I (or my children and grands) can read them again and remember. There was so much love on this trip.