Monday, March 19, 2012

A Nighttime Tour

He smells like Switzerland, I think.  I press more deeply into my pillow and breathe the air from both sides: damp air blowing from the night beyond the window across the room and his mountain-tainted air billowing next to me.  Sweet and clean and fresh.

It's not Switzerland itself surrounding him, of course.  No glaciers or pines or wisteria or lakes or vineyards or lamb-studded meadows.  Just some perfect combination of after shave, deodorant, and his personal pheromones that invoke memories of the country.  We were sweet and fresh, ourselves, when we were there.  I pull the sheet further up over my shoulders and smile, tucking my legs into his. 

It was spring, then.  Tiny, perfect crocuses were pushing through stubborn clumps of snow in the lower Alps, and great, foggy clouds huddled around us as we wound through mountains.  Every other switchback, there was a gushing waterfall, emptying the peaks of their clear, snowy water. 

For as much as we loved the smoothness of the green countryside, the cities we visited were enchanting.  In Lausanne, our hotel room was charming and tiny with a brass bed and high ceilings.  Somehow, we always ended up in a room next to a trio of matronly English ladies with silver hair and flowered skirts.  They were on the same traveling schedule as us, and the way they tittered and smiled as we exited our rooms each morning made me blush.  They thought we were on our honeymoon, probably.  And we might as well have been.  We hadn't even been married for two years and were understandably clingy.  We walked places as a unit, arms and hands and bodies always touching.  We gazed with syrupy lust across lakeside tables and shared sips of warm, red wine from rustic stoneware cups.

Those little old ladies knew love when they saw it, I guess.

And though it was seven years ago, I wonder about those ladies.  Strange what I took away from that trip: the memory of proper English grandmothers and their sense of adventure.  Even they stopped the forward motion of a (presumed) simple life to travel across the continent on a grand expedition. 

But I don't know -- maybe this was their yearly habit.  Maybe they'd been knocking out European countries with their steely-eyed gazes for a few decades.  Maybe we were the umpteenth giddy lovers they'd witnessed traipsing arm-in-arm over old-city bridges and browsing city markets. 

Maybe they're still taking adventures together. 

Back in my own bed, I wonder, with the air blowing in waves of remembering, if I'll ever have adventures again. 

My brother and his family, right now, are traveling for a year.  Working in quarter-long stints at exciting locations: San Antonio; the Virgin Islands; Florida; DC.  They're seeing things.  Meeting people.  Walking arm-in-arm over historic paths and scenic beaches. 

My high-school friend and her husband sold almost everything they own, packed the rest into a rough-shod SUV, and are currently somewhere in Central America, driving the entire length of the continent with no agenda and no strings holding them in place.  They have each other, they have their vehicle, and they have whatever happens tomorrow. 

One of my bridesmaids invited us to share a house with them in Mexico this summer.  I can almost hear the laughter and stories that would unfold there -- the sunny heat, the sultry dark, the sandy sea.

Lenae has pinned her hope on a steadfast faith and is living with her family in Azerbaijan.  Emily has followed her husband to exotic locations year after year, ready to open her eyes and soul to new cultures each time; she's going to Australia in a few weeks. 

And those laughing English grandmas....

I take another deep breath and look towards the open window.  A gust of humid, cool air touches my face.  The world is out there, I think. 

And I am in here.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, the wanderlust. Me, too. I have it bad. Maybe I could tempt you with a road trip up to exotic Maryland?

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    1. You could definitely tempt me, Robin! Especially since that's where my brother and his family are right now -- Silver Springs to be exact. But...(and there's always a but...)I'm so grounded right now. Nursing baby, lack of extra funds, lack of vacation time off work. It all adds up to going nowhere. Boo :(

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  2. I would love to travel too. Our plan is when the kids are graduated to sell our house and go do short term mission trips. Or go trucking together, or both :o)

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  4. That's strange. I couldn't sleep last night because I wanted so desperately -- so, so desperately -- to come home. I mean, I like moving from continent to continent and traveling around the world, but sometimes I long for a life that's more settled. I miss the USA. Life is long and winding though, and our paths aren't ever as straight as they seem. Just because you're in a routine right now that seems fixed (and exhausting) doesn't mean that routine will last forever; you still have time for a big adventure. Sometimes (and this isn't as small as it seems) it's as simple as making the decision to go.

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    1. I had a feeling you'd offer this perspective, Em ;)

      Oh, I don't know that I envy your constant travel, but I do envy the adventures you've gotten to have. And I *hope* you're right -- that I'll someday be the kind of person who just decides to take off one day. Just go. Plus, it would help to have the means to have adventures. But for now, I guess I'd better stop being so wallowy about this and find the excitement in THIS adventure.

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    2. I'm with Emily...perhaps it's always just easy to want "the other." I'm a continent hopper, and I'm homesick. Yet I'm often grateful too. And the decision to go--yes, that's the hardest, but also the most straightforward, part. I wish you both contentment in the moment, and joy in your travels, when they come.

      By the way, Emily, where are you? I haven't been able to access your bog lately.

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    3. The grass always does seem greener -- there's a reason that cliche is so steadfast!!

      And Emily is in Australia for a couple of weeks. She took down her blog due to some privacy concerns, but I think she'll be back soon

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    4. Thanks for the info, Sarah. Wishing Emily safe travels!

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  5. You are exploring the ever-changing and rapidly moving foreign land of motherhood, too, there ... :)
    BUT I get what you mean. Every now and then I get the urge to sell everything and caravan Jack Kerouac style -- without the drugs, alcohol and sex with random people part and with all the poetry and such-- across this landscape that just keeps stretching out. Seriously.

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    1. Ah, you get me, Hy :) I know this motherhood-land is very adventurous, too -- I just see it so often that sometimes I forget to see the beauty in it! I need to look away so I stop taking it for granted, you know? (And a quick vacation away from it all might be just the thing to keep me focused :)

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  6. Sarah! The grass is always greener on the other side. I look at you and envy what you have! a wonderful, healthy family and the patience and awareness to appreciate it. Don´t get me wrong, I love our adventure, but i also hope to have some semblence of your adventure in my life too. and yes, the trick is to just go. there is always a reason not to go, not to drop everything, so you just have to committ and do it. scary, but great. and mexico is beautiful and cheap! and the border is only a 15 hour drive from JoMo.... I have no doubt that when the time is right for your family, you will take the adventure that´s right for yáll.

    also, do remember that adventures are great, but the bathrooms tend to not be so great... so keep that in mind as you use your wonderful western style toilet... :)

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    1. Hah! Oh, the toilets -- yes, they are good here at home! And thank you for reminding me about the green grass. Every time I go somewhere, I'm usually longing for home after several days ;)

      I hope you guys are having fun!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?