My brain hurts.
Pondering, planning, scheming, budgeting. It’s been the strangest few weeks. Plans hatched and locked in, then changed, new ones set then fallen apart. All the while we have fallen into this not unpleasant normal. Our own lovely little flat not too far from town with the North Atlantic peeking out from behind green hills that you glimpse not 5 steps from the front door.
We wake, sit, read, graze on 5 different breakfasts, more often than not make pancakes, some school, a dash of craft and suddenly it is 11:30am and we haven’t left the house. Our own little Walden Pond.
But for me an agitated one. Maybe it is falling into a routine, maybe the fact that we are planning the final phase of the journey, maybe the financial pressure – I am not sure. But I have been uneasy. Not completely able to slow and enjoy the slow time – because we have slowed from slow to slower. But the slow is not that slow you enjoy on an annual holiday where you work yourself to the holidays brink. Where you push through and then collapse on the sand at Kuta or Byron Bay, maybe pitch a tent and lay in the grass looking up at blue skies and mare’s tails. No, we have been journeying so long that motion towards a destination seems true and right. Staying still seems like cheating or maybe not doing it “well”.
And my spiderman senses are tingling about coming to an end of the journey. Planning how we see Europe by car requires that we work backwards from the end date and use our time well. But for the first time we have had to talk about dates and flights back. Pondered which airline to take home and from which city. (There has been a general consensus that we take Qantas just so that moments after we have touched the tarmac we can have an Australian voice say “To those of you returning…..welcome home”.)
But pondering the end has filled me with this strange combination of excited and panicked. The sight of a jet stream crossing the sky makes me homesick. I begin yearning for that final passage of travel where instead of the earthy, disorder of buses and trains you get the graceful flow and order of air travel. The formality of checking in, passports, airport lounges, immaculate air hostesses and meals that arrive in perfect little packages. Where you are cocooned in the technology and futurism of an aeroplane. Where everything works and if it doesn’t then you have cause to complain. (If the wifi doesn’t work on the Warsaw to Berlin express bus you get met with a dull shrug from the bus driver. If your TV doesn’t work on a plane you expect profuse apologies and to be bumped to business class.)
But just as I yearn for the dull thud of touching down on Australian soil – I get this panic that it is ending. That I need to get the plan right for this final phase or I will forever be kicking myself that we didn’t go one mile further, see one more Italian town, one more Portuguese beach, maybe crossed to Morocco, maybe we should just drive back……
I think I just need to move. It scares me how itchy my feet get after 2 weeks in the one spot. Am I completely stuffed? Am I damned to some horrible state of endless agitation? I bloody well hope not.
But we move tomorrow. We have a hire car for the next period until the paperwork for the van comes through. Then another phase starts. The five of us in a 2004 Ford Transit. It was a minibus but we took the third row out – so there is this immense void of space from the lonely back seat to the back doors. Big enough for a double bed and then some more. Just the thought of that makes my pulse race. About to embark on a roady into completely new territory. Lands we don’t know anything about or how they work. Who knows where we will end up or which route we will take. There is a rough plan – 2 months in the UK, then France, Spain, Portugal then bust across to Italy and back up via central Europe. We are not sure, but more adventures await. The final phase, the last adventures before we find our feet hitting Australian soil and suddenly once again we are making school lunches and yelling “HAVE YOU GOT YOUR SCHOOL BAGS!!?? GET IN THE CAR!!!!”
Strangely enough that actually sounds fun. Because I know that as we are struggling out of the house to get in the station wagon with school bags and hats and the dog, that one of our amazing little children will smile an impish smile and say…..”Hey….do you remember that time in Portugal…..?”
And we will all laugh and suddenly everything will be alright again.
Where ever we go, there we are.