There is a song that Matt brought into our house quite a few years ago after hearing it on a long haul flight. It is a lovely rhythmic, lilting tune that almost feels like a rocking chair – or perhaps a hammock – swinging backwards and forwards under a tree on a sunny afternoon. Unsurprisingly, it is called ‘The Trapeze Swinger’. We listened to it in the car yesterday and I was reminded of some of the great lyrics: ‘…until someone caught us in the kitchen with maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank/A vision too removed to mention.’ I can relate to those words, I think that’s why I smile every time I hear them.
We’ve started to do two things: look back and have lasts. When I heard The Trapeze Swinger yesterday I found myself at our kitchen table so many years ago when all this was just a big idea. When we didn’t have any idea what form it would take, just that we would do something with the girls. We look back at the places we’ve had cups of tea, best wild campsite, who we’ve met, how many teeth have fallen out and if today is as cold as it was in China. I look back over the stretch of time, see how much my daughters have grown, physically and in so many other ways, ways that might come together all at once when they meet their extended family back home. They will see. We look back at the time – a year and a half, we keep reminding ourselves, is a long time. It is half the life of our youngest nephew. We have looked back at how we travelled when we started out, how we found our travel groove. There is so much to look back on. We will do it forever.
And our lasts, which are getting weightier. We have just had our last morning cup of tea on the road. Standing around as the sun came up, hands warming around a strong brew, breath coming like a horse’s at the race track. Matt and I stood huddled, knowing that this really is the beginning of the end. I confess I shed a tear, knowing that this – all of what this is and has been for our little family unit – is ending. Of course I know that everything has to end and we’ll have the memories, we’ve been so lucky all those things that are said when big things end. And they’re true. But for the moment, I’m sad that it’s ending; that our cups of tea will be mostly inside, that lunch won’t be overlooking a mountain lake or vineyards, that bedtime won’t be all together, fogging up the van windows listening to Harry Potter, and so many other things that we’ve had our last of. Last night was our last night in the van. If things work out well, itwill be driven away by a young Englishman tomorrow, off on his own adventures.
With the end comes many new beginnings (ugh, such a cliche!). We’re all really excited to be coming home and setting up and getting stuck into our new life in our new place, but we still have a few lasts to have. And we’re going to enjoy every last one of them.