The upside of 26 hours of flying – having time to read two books. Yep, this meant that the children watched IPad for A LOT of the trip – oh well and long live Apple products.
I went for a self-involved memoir essay theme – Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. I liked the idea of reading two similarly styled books, both set in NYC, written by women of different generations. I figured they’d both essentially be “beach reads” (or “plane reads” as the case may be), but I actually found them thought provoking in their own ways. Certainly humorous and heartfelt and very readable. And while I’m writing a blog (hello, self-involved), it’s more of a record of our locations and basic activities; I don’t think I’m emotionally brave or eloquent enough to share the details of my life and feelings the way either of the authors do. Maybe I should have more “Reflect” entries on here and try my hand at it. Time will tell… (but it’s unlikely).
Regardless, I loved getting back into the groove of quasi-obsessive reading. Reading has been something that’s faded from my life since the kids were born, New Yorker articles before bed aside. And while I logistically understand why, the few times I do read I realize anew how much I miss it. In I Feel Bad About My Neck, Ephron writes about disappearing into a book she loves, experiencing a state of rapture, finding it difficult to return to the real world when the book is done. I’m hoping to prioritize reading on this trip, to get lost in the written word, to find my own rapture.
After a couple of very hectic weeks visiting family in London and New York, checking in on house renovations, and totally neglecting the blog, we headed to San Francisco for a long weekend. Seeing Elizabeth and Jake and baby Nora (not such a baby anymore!) made us happy in our hearts – we shared parks, meals, a beachy sunset overlooking the Pacific, and generally good and relaxing times.
We also faced the challenge of jetlag catching up with the kiddos and exploring a city (which takes energy!) with two tired parents (it turns out selecting tiles and paint colors is oddly tiring). When we head to Tokyo in the early Spring, I want to make sure that Carl and I are feeling rested and energetic and that we’re realistic about how much exploring we can really do in one day. I get a little obsessive in cities and want to fit multiple amazing experiences into every nook and cranny of every day – this leads to tears (for the children) and difficulty breathing (for me!).
But in the spirit of attempted nook and cranny fillage, highlights of San Francisco included: an amazing hike in Muir Woods that was legitimately enjoyed by all four of us (there were giant slugs and the tallest trees Grace and Max had ever seen), a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, a visit to a shop in Chinatown that makes fortune cookies (mostly enjoyed by me – I thought it was so cool to see the warm round discs of cookie rolled into the proper shape), a cable car ride, a walk down the zigzagging Lombard Street, a walk along the waterfront, lunch at a playground near Chestnut Street in the Marina area (playgrounds make children so happy and delicious lunch makes me happy), an attempted wander through some of the lovely boutiques and furniture shops and bookstores in the Mission (the operative word being attempted), dinner at a vegetarian Japanese restaurant in the Mission, a stop at the Converse store to pick up some non-stinky shoes for Grace and Max, a picnic brunch in Golden Gate Park (where Grace learned to throw a frisbee), and a gorgeous windswept walk on the beach.
I only managed non-IPhone photos on our Muir Woods hike – too much whining and crying (and difficulty breathing) to manage real photos the rest of the time.
Tomorrow morning we set off on our year of adventuring! We’re beginning our travels in France — where Carl spent many youthful summers camping and surfing with family and friends, where he and I took our first international trip together, where we’ve celebrated weddings and births, and where we’ve made a summer home for the past several years. Our one-way tickets from New York to Toulouse are booked, and from there we’ll arrange around-the-world tickets and set our itinerary in a little more detail.
We’ve decided to focus on a small number of countries and spend extended periods of time in each, something that will be more difficult to achieve in the future when we’ll be working around school holidays and office vacation days. We wanted to explore at least some countries neither Carl nor I have visited, prioritize spending time with Carl’s sister and family who live in Australia, make sure there was plenty of time spent outdoors, and simply focus on enjoying life together as a family of four.
With those general guidelines, our itinerary after France includes: New Zealand (in a camper van), Australia, Japan (hopefully in time to see the cherry blossoms), and Sri Lanka. We’ll finish the year by returning to France, and then head back to life in New York. Unless we decide to stay somewhere along the way…
Moving day tomorrow. Lots to do and a lovely wall that will have to be dismantled. Bravo to Grace and Max for all their creative projects over the past several months. Here’s to lots more creating in the year to come.