Monday, July 13, 2009

Uh... Where was I?

My favorite church in Barcelona, Santa Maria Del Mar

So, it was....
London to Paris.
Paris to Bruxelles.
Drive to Germany or through Germany.
Then the Alps.
Then France.
Security in Toronto... that was something.
Drive home.
Back to normal.

Really? "Back to normal?" I don't think that's possible. For one thing we are still on Barcelona time, so that means we don't know what time it is. For another thing we've seen stuff and been places and we are not the same. We are affected. We miss Speculoos in a jar. We've grown accustomed to baked beans for breakfast and saying "Aloha, parlez vous Español, danke?" Last night I woke up and stared at our room. Stared. I said declaratively, "We are not in France." I could not say for sure where we were, but I was certain it was not France.

I do not miss second hand smoke. By the time we were in Barcelona I was fighting what I thought was second hand emphysema, lots of late night coughing. The coughing kept me up all four nights we were there and in the day I was cranky and bitter. I do not know how I managed to maintain my cool, because my compulsion was to walk up to every smoker and cough in their face, stomp out their fiery little smog sticks and instill them with the obvious wisdom that their cigarettes smelled awful and made life on this planet less sweet. How did I find the strength? Or was it strength that I lacked?

Maybe it was the smoke and city exhaust or maybe it was the pig wrestling in Ballenburg, but I am definitely not well. The cough is subsiding somewhat, but now I have a mild fever, sore throat, and also throat gunk, which is, you know... not pleasant to read about, so I apologize.

Anyway, we are home and there is a lot to reflect on and share about our time in Europe, and then there is the present... the here and now. We have children in summer schools, and Max wants to plan his birthday party. Our family doctor is no longer practicing, so I need to find a new one and obviously none of this is in any particular order, but we need to change light bulbs and figure out why the hose is leaking. Naturally there is laundry to do. Today is Maria's first day of school and I cannot believe I didn't bring my camera, or get her there on time for that matter. My headache is huge.

It could be a while before all of my photographs are transferred to my regular computer. These last images were still on the camera. I cannot believe how fast it all happened. Of course sometimes, like driving in the south of France through Tour Du France traffic, it lasted FOREVER. I look forward to sorting through the pictures and taking it all in again, reliving the things we saw and did. In the meantime it's all a whirr and waking up and wondering "where am I?"

We came home and found a beautiful lasagna in our refrigerator. My sweet mother in law. Wasn't that dear? She knew we'd need sustenance when we got home, so besides watching our psycho cats and runaway chicken for three weeks, she baked us a luscious veggie lasagna.

We did so much in the last three weeks and I have this anxious, passionate desire to keep up the pace, to walk as much and eat as well, and do things and see things and be super productive. I ask Geoff, the kids, "What do you want to keep or adapt from our trip? What new thing have you discovered that you want to retain now that we are home?"

I want to walk everywhere.
I want to hang my clean wash out in the sun to dry.
I want more flowers growing around the house.
I want Belgian beer and Swiss style.
I want to learn French and Catalan.
I want less stuff and more time.
I want to feel at home, to be connected. Here. Anywhere.
I want to wear a dirndl, a sari, and wooden shoes. Not all at once.
I want to cook shawarma.
I want to go back... to visit all those amazing, beautiful, vexing, ridiculous, busy, quiet, breathtaking, peaceful, frenetic, artful, inspiring, dizzying places again and I want to bring my friends and family so we can share the adventure together.

I also think we should have siestas.

It is good to be home.


helen said...

i want to wear a dirndl, a sari, and wooden shoes. Not all at once

I think you should try them all at once....maybe a new trend.
glad you had a wonderful, interesting trip and hope you are on the mend soon.


nikkipolani said...

Welcome home! I love it that you are already evaluating what you want to adapt to home life. One thing I wanted to adapt and couldn't, was eating more of those astoundingly good croissants.

Marielle said...

I've loved reading the updates on your euro trip. Sounds like it made quite an impression. I agree on the siestas although eating la cena at 8-9pm as a SAHM would likely do in what little bit of sanity remains.

CrazyCris said...

Bienvenidos a casa!

Sounds like you guys really enjoyed your trip, I'm amazed at all you managed to see in so little time, intense!

Thanks for sharing the experience with us, it was very entertaining!

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

I love the list of "I want." We should all make one.

And the siesta? Love the photo that accompied it and it's a good idea.

Anna Banana said...

Bienvenue a la chez Valk. Loved the link to Lotus speculoos paste:
The pasta is fun for those who like breakfast sandwiches with nonchalant speculaas coffee in the log. It is also an alternative to other bread spreads as of Nutella chocolate and peanut butter of Calve. Calve cost of peanut butter again and is still equal calorie richer and bolder - but less sweet - than Speculoos pastes. The 'least' - and that is all relatively cases - four classic Lotus speculoosjes lay between your sandwich. But you can not smear or bread with butter, otherwise it does not matter. Pasta speculoos grease and then soak in the coffee is finally be cheaper than the traditional way.

mtnchild said...

Welcome home! I look forward to pictures from your trip - I bet you have thousands!


Julie said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling well. (Just sent up a little prayer for your speedy recovery!)

Natalie, last night on the phone, I was trying to tell my non-blog-following sister about your incredible ability to write, and how it almost brings me to tears, at times. I was stumbling all over the place trying to describe your style and what she's missing...But sadly, I lack your way with words. (smiling.)...Discovering your blog has been a real joy. Welcome home!

Anonymous said...

We're so thankful to know you are all home safe and sound. Thanks again for sharing the sights and sounds with your wonderful photos and narratives. We certainly missed you today, but understand it was impossible for you to be there. Hope to see you and hear more about your European adventure soon. Love, Junie

Tracy said...

Hi, Natalie! Welcome home to you all! Glad you are home again safe and sound...Enjoy being home again. Travel has a way of making on very reflective and thoughtful...Take your time and savor, mull over all that you experienced on your trip. Travel can be very transformative, I find. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Laura Jane said...

Aloha! Welcome home, it does feel a bit strange huh?

I am still catching up with washing (I haven't tried very hard, and most of the dirty stuff was the summer stuff)and sifting through photos.

I recommend PRINTING out the photos 'cos little, and not so little, hands love to hold real photos in albums and point at things as an aide memoire. You may find you need an aide memoire cos you have crammed so many things into your trip it may seem like a blur. Duck suit anyone?

Just sayin....(from my recent experience, where I have only just remembered that we went to the diamond museum in AMsterdam 3 wseeks ago)

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

Welcome back home! It looks like you guys had an amazing time.