And so, refreshed from three weeks of vacation, I return to a new world order.
Even though my home hasn’t changed, my work hasn’t changed, my responsibilities haven’t changed…I have. And so they have too. Being away from a computer and smart phone and TV will do that to your life.
We traveled about—my youngest and I—during three weeks free of email and Google. We answered our own questions and made our own stories. We drifted to sleep or dropped like flies after hours and hours of walking, exploring, looking, learning. Our heads might lay one night in a region rich in culture and the next night in a town of industry. They may be filled one night with heroes and sport and another night with grapes and fairies. We might have seen great castles, or walked amid cobblestones; bought ice cream or drank beer and lemonade; heard Rachmaninoff or Richard Clayderman; seen a stork or fields of solar panels. And what mattered most was finding where we needed to be, eating, writing home letters and postcards, and curling up in a safe place to sleep.
Now back at home, there are obstacles, challenges, pressures, demands, illusions. Funny how time away from them will change their shape. Somehow, I see them for what they are and move deftly around them remembering that I have crossed oceans, mountains and borders, spoken languages that aren’t yet my own, and found myself still standing tall.
True, there was one moment when I bowed my head and cried, but that was just as much a teacher as the bleeding edits I received as a college student submitting my first true writings. And I am better for having been through it.
While I searched for my family of yesteryear, I tasted homemade wine that made me homesick for my family in present day. While I praised their tea culture, I also discovered their beer. And somewhere in the midst of all that exploring I tasted the sweetest, clearest, coldest water so that I wanted to return again and again though it lay far out of our way.
This new world order builds on these foundations. Exploring, walking, eating, finding my way, learning, drinking, listening. I am better for it, there is no question. And yet, somehow, I feel more military than usual. Reading a map makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something important. Holding still in the midst of panic all around or uncertainty gives me confidence and calm. Finding a new solution or path or tea shop of book gives me a high.
Tonight, after a full day of work far from home, I find that seeking a pub to watch the soccer match presents almost more delight than the soccer match itself. And not just because my team lost.
I guess at some point in my life I would have been proud of that too. But now it feels rigid and cold, hard and…well, lonely.
There he is—my enemy! Loneliness.
I feel my armor wrap around me and though he gives me a few blows to my heart and mind, I pull myself back together and head out into the night where an artificial lawn is covered with people wrapped in blankets listening to another person’s interpretation of popular country music songs in a fake American downtown.
Loneliness doesn’t dare follow me there because this is where I remember what matters most to me…and it’s none of those things. Rather a few minutes later in the comfort of Lewis, my Escapé, I flip on Rachmaninoff and open the sunroof to spot a full moon. I acquaint myself with the map and then take off, inviting…no, daring the wind to join me. He does. And I am free. Free to discover more about life in this new world order.