It’s funny; I’m old enough to consider the idea of posting something from over the Atlantic some kind of fancy-pants miracle, but really now – it’s just wifi that they sell (for admittedly exorbitant rates) to anybody who wants it. I ain’t fnacy, I’ve just got nine bucks. But I digress. . . actually, I hadn’t really started saying anything, sooooo. . . I gress?
So. About halfway through our flight, over an ocean. Bags are packed and stowed. I’ve watched a movie (‘The Suicide Squad’, as in the newer one, which as far as I could tell had none of the violence cut based on the number of Gallagher’d heads but had every single swear word modified… bizarre. If you’ve seen the movie, think of Idris Elba and his daughter yelling “Forget You!” back and forth, over and over) and there’s still all the hours ahead. Lisa is at rest, trying to catch up on all the sleep that has been stolen from her by worry and crisis. Gods bless her, none of this happens without her. Truth be told, more than half the reason I even wanted to do this crazy thing is so she can set down so many other burdens, but just like Andy Dufresne she had one last (hopefully) sewer of… well, anyway. Hopefully this is the start of a long, long stretch of her being more at ease.
Nothing left to do up here but think, it seems. This wouldn’t really be worth posting to a blog if there wasn’t something to say to all you fine people. So with time to reflect, let’s nibble at the question we got asked the most, in numerous variants: why? Gods only know, we asked it more than any of you ever did.
Part of the answer has to be the traveling. Couples find their interests, some fast, some slower. Our dear friends Dan and Suz (despite being dear friends, honest!, I’ve never been 100% sure how to spell the shortened version of her name. Sorry, Shuzzue) have revealed themselves to be avid fans of F1 racing and going to live music. When I met Dan on his smoke breaks 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed those as his future passions if you’d given me an hour and a dictionary. Point being, I don’t think either of us, had we been using dating profiles back then, would have listed “devote serious amounts of my life to traveling the world” in an “interests” section. And yet, together, we discovered we absolutely adore exploring the arts and culture of the past. Art, yes, but also (maybe more) the archaeological sites we’ve visited. We just can’t get enough of these things, or at least we haven’t yet. Time to up the dosage and see what happens.
There’s more to it, though. Any time we’ve been in Europe, we find ourselves drawn to the cultures we’ve experienced. As time went on we planned our trips around longer stays in fewer places, so we could feel at least a teeny bit like a resident. We spent a long-ish stretch in Venice several years back, and more than the Caravaggios we remember the piazzas, the families and friends gathering together in public squares with children running around, no agenda and no schedule. I certainly remember sitting (and driving, ahem) on the Campo in Sienna with far more accuracy than I do the things we saw in their esteemed cathedral. You can tell me that these same things happen in the U.S. Maybe we’re just unlucky, but we’ve traveled the U.S. a fair bit as well and we don’t have those same experiences to look back upon. By and large, European countries just value different things, and we always have found ourselves incredibly comfortable when we’ve had a chance to immerse ourselves.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, almost none of our motivation is based on anti-U.S. sentiment. While not exactly chest-thumping patriots, neither are we socialist zealots that are taking the first opportunity to get the hell out of Dodge. There’s an interesting shift in our perspective about America once it was no longer a foregone conclusion that we’d live their for our entire lives, but that’s a different blog post.
I can just smell the eye-rolling out there in internet land. Most of you readers know me well, (we haven’t been advertising or anything so our reach is pretty modest) so you know I’m hardly slow to see the more jaundiced view of things. I know how all of this sounds. Neither of us has any delusion that this is guaranteed to work out. It absolutely could be a boondoggle of historic proportions. We may end up being the object lesson that you scare your children with when they concoct some harebrained scheme. (“You want to start a dog bakery?? You remember what happened to Uncle John and Aunt Lisa, right? Do you really want to live in a box under the overpass? In KENTUCKY??”) But luck, as they say, is the meeting of opportunity and preparation. We’ve been preparing ourselves for this sort of adventure for many years now, and economic conditions are such that the opportunity has presented itself. We’re going to go see if we can get lucky.