THE REAL SIDE OF TRAVELLING: ROADLEARNING HOW TO BE A FAMILY

I could have avoided writing this post, have avoided writing down about the difficult times, continued posting the photos of us looking always happy and continued creating the image of life on the road as all fun and adventure… but that would have been only one side, not the entire side.

I was watching my daughters play with the waves at Praia do Carropateira in Portugal. It was one of those rare moments of clarity. One of those moments when it all falls into place; when you are able to see the world as it is and not as you are. I felt the freedom, the adventure, the beauty. I watched them in all their wild innocence… my daughters and the waves had become one… and I knew that this was our place… not the beach, not Portugal, not even the road…

Am I making any sense?

After 35 days, my family had just began to relax and little by little, let go of all that we had thought that we could simply leave behind.

Thirty-five days ago we had packed up our stuff, prepared our mobile home, and left the four walls that we had called our abode for the past year. It wasn’t the first time. By now, we were experts, or at least we thought we were. We had lots of expectations (we still didn’t know where they would lead us) and although we were travelling light it was impossible to leave the baggage of the past months behind.  It had taken over a year for us to create the tension and stress that had been accumulated… feel once again, unsettled and frustrated with a life with a fixed address… feel, once again, that something was missing… life, at least our life in that moment, was (once again) somewhere else.

How could we possibly be so naive as to expect that all our built up emotions would magically disappear as soon as we started our engine?

The first few weeks on the road were challenging. We tried. We really did. We would wake up each morning with our smiles and expectations (too many… they will sabbotage a fine chance every time), but even though the days would start out real smooth, they quickly became trying, and often our daily dose of bickering took over for most of the afternoon, until… until our fighting over absolutely nothing at all rolled around to a serene enough evening, a pleasant dinner, and a friendly game of Rummy 500 until it was time to turn off the lights. During the night, we would sleep soundly, recharge until the morning, and then wake up ready to do it all over again. The places we would visit would provide us glimpses of excitement, but our depleted emotional energy would take center field.

I cried like a baby on the streets of Barcelona (for no reason at all), the girls were nervous while visiting Pueblos Blancos (nothing had instigated it), we fought viciously in Cordoba and Cadiz and had an argument or two in the camper almost every day, over Nothing. We tried to reset, interrupt the pattern, send the baggage away. We really did! We had good intentions, (too many) expectations, and we felt badly every single time. But, this wasn’t enough. Although we were able to practice part of our belief: that it isn’t important to be right (and, it saved us from total destruction), we weren’t able to master the other part of the equation, that it is more important to be kind. Without both, the practice remained theory. And, the ‘for no reasons at all’, the ‘nothings to blame’ and the ‘nothings at all’ hung over us and volcanically lingered. 

We still couldn’t truly feel the freedom or the gratitude that I continued to write about. We were thousands of miles from home as we exploded and we comunicated, we forgave and let go, we reset and we laughed about it all… that is, until we exploded once again. Even when we were relaxed and having fun, there was a time bomb following us, ready to go BOOM! We were a thousand miles from home and yet, we had not moved a single bit. I prayed. I accepted. I decided not to beat myself up. I FORGAVE. I decided to give us time.

And then, it happened… I noticed it in small insignificant things… easy to remain unnoticed gestures… A please, a thank you, an I am sorry. Smiles that lasted ‘til lunchtime or beyond. As the weeks passed and the roadside view of vineyards transformed into fields and fields of olive trees which then transformed into the brightest color of juicy oranges… more than I ever had seen… our faces began to relax, the muscles loosened and our tones softened… we slowly shook off lots of  that stuff that we unintentionally packed… the pressure of the four walls lessened its hold… the frustration and the never-ending decisions seemed less important than what we were being offered… in our place, right NOW…

the romance of the castles and their stories of arabic princesses and dukes, the image of pottery being molded by the artfulness of ancient hands and words of wisdom and hope being composed by poets long ago… the free roaming cows and calves, pelicans on the water and stalks in their nests… all coming alive right before our very eyes. The boundless skies and endless coastlines… the glow of the morning sun on an awakening town waiting to be rediscovered, and the pink and purple shadows of a day falling asleep over a still energetic ocean.

All these blessings helping us to see things the way they actually are! We still have our fights (daily) for what really is NOTHING, but they no longer consume our days. We can help each other appreciate what we have, where we are…

we are in a camper, together 24 hours a daytotal peace is irrealistic… but we can work on working together as a unit.

When he is feeling tired from too much time behind the wheel, I can be a little bit kinder. When I am feeling closed in, they can lovingly give me 10 minutes of space. When a little sister is anxious,  a big sister can hug her. When my thirteen year old ‘can’t find a thing to wear’, I can generously lend her something ‘new’ without warning her not to ruin it. We can remind each other that when someone needs a helping hand, the hand is there because like in any other family, there will always be another bad night sleep, another bad mood, another bad hair day, another wrong turn, another spilt something… and in our case, more specifically, one too many promised hot showers turned freezing cold. 

But, this is all ok. We can let go of our biggest expectation of all: a trip that is perfect and confrontation free.

From post: MARRIAGE, KIDS and The Sacred Stick (April 23, 2016) https://freefamilyontheroad.wordpress.com/?s=sacred+sacrifice

Reading my blog it may appear as if my free family is almost always in turmoil. ‘What freedom?‘, many may think. The past weeks (or years, for that matter) I have spoken about choices, indecision, doubt and frustration… once again… what freedom? We talk too much, but we actually communicate. We fight and we do this real big… but we also make up, and fortunately we do this even bigger! We make decisions and then we doubt, we make mistakes, we say lots of sorrys and then we try to learn and correct. We do some things very right and some things quite wrong. We never, ever REGRET!

Closeness is something that is made to look easy (and funny) in movies. Real life is another thing altogether.  And, like every other evolving family, we will forever be learning as we go.

Love and a squeeze from the (sometimes bumpy) road,

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