Wednesday, August 15, 2012
How long is now?
There is so much I want to share here. About how we are here. About how well we have been looked after, by colleagues, by the weather gods, by friends, by service providers, by strangers, by the universe.
There are so many numbers that I have been cataloguing: the numbers game that is travel. The hours of flight. The lost hours of sleep. The currency conversions. The number of times we have had to move to new lodgings. The increasing number of items in our suitcases. The days flying by.
Then there are the senses, the funny little memories that will always be attached to this time. The novels I am reading. The haunting song of the Romany family who performed loudly in the local square. The smell of fresh strawberries. The crunchy salt on top of soft brezels. The slightly soapy taste of tap water. The delicious Summer breeze. The eerie desertion of the weekend streets, Soviet-style buildings stoic in the sunshine. The first taste of quark. Proseco with Aperol, of course. Asthma that won't quite settle. The bedtime books I read my little 'un. The new sandals she chose on the first day and has insisted on wearing every day since, though always with socks underneath.
Then there's the fact that the shops and cafes we try to find, we never seem to find, despite the assistance of maps, guidebooks, GPS and one good sense of direction. But the shops and cafes that we stumble upon are more wonderful than we ever could have imagined.
And then there's truth that we're yet to do one touristy thing, if you don't count me paying an undisclosed sum of money to have my journal stamped at Checkpoint Charlie. Although we probably will visit a museum tomorrow.
For some reason, my words are deserting me here. It's partly through overwhelm, partly because I don't want to spend time glued to my husband's laptop when I could be out and about (or just resting), and partly because this feels like a rare private time for me and my family.
I am also conscious of my tendency to overstate things, or look for significance in things that happen when I am travelling: implications for my life at home. Certainly, I've noticed a few things about myself and about us, and a couple of tendencies/patterns have become clearer with a bit of perspective.
And the truth is, I am really enjoying myself here. Berlin is an incredible place. It was also a real treat to spend a few days in regional Germany, in a small town near the Swiss border, while my husband was working. I feel so blessed to have witnessed a couple of different ways of life and histories and cuisines since during this trip. I feel the familiar pang of envy: how wonderful would it be to live in Europe and have all this on our doorstep?
But this thought is always closely followed by the realisation that the freedom to dream and explore is something that is quite unique to holidays, for me at least. That is to say, I am not sure I would be any less focussed or driven or neurotic if I lived elsewhere.
So, utlimately, the thing I am loving most is the relaxed, intentional time we are spending together as a family. I'm rarely on my phone, as wi-fi is less available as I had anticipated. I occasionally look at emails, in the event I need to address something urgent. I've taken heaps of photos but all with my SLR (or point-and-shoot) and none with my iPhone. My husband is also less burdened by work, more available to me and our little 'un. And our little 'un has surprised us at every turn with her curiosity, her courage and her resilience. She's an incredible little traveller, and she is mushrooming into her own person in front of our very eyes.
So, for now, I hope you'll forgive me for checking into this space only occasionally during the week we have left. I am going to cheat a little and back-date some photos so you get a flavour of the trip so far.
Thank you for travelling along with me, as always. I hope that life is treating you kindly, wherever you are in the world.