Friday, August 13, 2010

Nomads of New England

A year ago today we were settling our heads down on the deep pillows of a bed and breakfast in Dublin, too excited to sleep before our big trip to Nice. We had cut our ties to before, and were heading off to who knows what. We faced that future with our old eyes. Bill was not just glass- half-full about things, but glass overflowing, certain he would find adventure at every turn. I was on the lookout for danger, steeped in regret and caution and fear. Grace was pretty sure she would find treasure and beauty, while Abigail hoped for nothing more than a steady diet of candy and TV.

A year later, we're back in America, and still wandering, deeply changed by what we found. Now I have started to roll with the punches, and itch for new experiences almost as I crave the nest. Bill, having pitched all four of us up a big steep hill, is now slowly rolling back down towards the familiar. Our world has widened, but also contracted. We know that everything that really matters is here in the bonds among the four of us, in the family we create. This won't be true forever, certainly, but it's our new center of gravity. For now, who we are comes from right here, wherever we may be.

Grace did, in fact, find treasure and beauty, but along a windier path than any of us had expected. Abigail still loves her candy and TV, but also became the most patriotic child in America, with a serious Varoise accent and a hankering for the smell of thyme, the taste of duck, and massive squirts of Verviene eau de cologne.

And now, for the next three weeks or so, we are still on the road. We travel by Toyota rather than by Camel, finding new places to lay our grateful, weary heads every week or so. We're home-rich, rather than homeless, although none of these homes is ours. So far we have hit all of New England aside from Maine (I have an extremely rare allergy to our nation's 23rd state.)

We'll be back to some sort of routine in Brooklyn no later than the first of September. Until then, here are snapshots of some of our campgrounds (literal and figurative) and our fellow-travelers.

Friends since birth at Zealand Falls Hut in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

I forget the name for this rather adorable sort of relation: the children of first cousins. Second cousins, perhaps? At any rate, here are my cousin's kids, with one of mine, Little Lake Sunapee

Sisters at Little Lake Sunapee. (See, I really am taller. As long as I stand on a big rock.)

The whole gang, Zealand Falls Hut. This backpack and matching hiker-headband combination makes me cooler than I otherwise am.

City Cousin BFF's, Spring Lake. I love these children nearly as much as I love my own.

All in the family, at Rhoda's Pond. I have a second photo, where Finn's tongue is pointing the other way. Just as cute.

Finny-Foo, during a Menemsha sunset. He and Abigail were playing a pretty rough and tumble game of tag, but nobody fell in the bay.

Look very closely to see the sliver of a half of a moon, above the clouds.

I didn't realize, until I posted all these portraits of happiness, that every single one was taken on a gloriously sunny day, within spitting distance of still, or flowing, or deep salty water. Now that's some kind of summer.

So much for all the danger I worried so hard about. I still have plenty of cranky moods, but I'm not sure anymore why. For, as it turns out, there has been an oasis nearly everywhere we have needed one, each brimming with plenty of cool, clear water.

So were these safe harbors always here, waiting for us to find them?

How is it that we have only just learned how to look?


  1. I love how honest you are about still having plenty of cranky moods. And also about finally noticing all the oases around you. The ability to look and to see them is a skill developed over a lifetime, I'm afraid. At least that what it feels like down here in Charlotte, NC. Then again, those of us who live in the South, tend to move and learn at a slower pace than you big city northerners...

  2. Cranky moods, check.
    Wondering how it is that you've only just learned how to look? Double check.

    Lovely, lovely post.