carried out enormous family reunion. check.
feted darling daughter for her 20th birthday. check.
encouraged & oversaw issues related to son finding new apartment in the city. check.
dealt with new kitty, behavior management (spray bottle of water), and several vet visits. check.
aided and abetted daughter with new apartment furniture & fittings acquisitions. check.
hosted fab gals weekend with dear college friends. check.
worked, despite the continual interruptions provided by life. check.
it’s been an over the top summer with one moment clogging the next: kind of unusual for me. maybe it’s the ages of my children, and the transitions that are vying for their attention, and subsequently, my assistance. maybe it’s the hellish hot weather that kept most of us indoors rather than sprawled and relaxing on the deck or in the pool or garden. or perhaps it’s just life itself: spinning madly, sometimes on a tilted ‘faster than normal’ orbit.
whatever. frankly, too tired to consider anything beyond the check list that means that, officially, with less than a week to go, my main focus, my big to do list, is all about london2012, the english countryside adventure, a mini-tour of scotland, and 5 days in paris, all swaddled in the enthusiastic and kookie company of my three big kids.
the last time i was in europe, i had two tots and was on an excursion to research a famed italian violin maker. a business trip, it was filled with a zany cast of characters that included a violin maker from nebraska, the first violin chair of the tokyo symphony, his girlfriend (his wife stayed behind in japan), an italian guide, and her kookie italian friend. a good time was had by all, and i returned with bags filled with italian leathers, colorful clothes for the children, and two mini-espresso cups to use as i trained my children to love coffee.
the first time in was in europe, i had a new boyfriend, a backpack, and a fresh diary. the trip lasted a month, the boyfriend became a husband and father of my children, and europe became the end all of all to me: haven’t spent a day since, in those 25 years, wishing somehow i lived across the pond, and adopted as close to a european/british/italian/french joie de vive in my lifestyle.
so i’m heading back. years of dvd’s and subtitled movies, anything with hugh grant, pouring over agatha christie mysteries, smelling good italian leather whenever i’m out shopping, gulping espresso by leaps and bounds, cooking up exotic and non-american feasts in my country house, the whole bridget jones stuff keeping me focused on the places that i long for and that hold such mystery and infatuation for me.
i’m a planner, so i’m a bit freaked at the moment as i haven’t read all 54 books that i stacked on my ‘travel table’ last winter. i haven’t poured over every map gathered to earmark our itinerary. haven’t really uploaded enough apps to follow the olympics, the travel options, the train fares and ferry tables. haven’t copied passports or cc information. haven’t even decided what to wear.
it’s daunting, at 52, to do all of this as the head of the familia, with 3 enthusiastic college/high school travel companions. i somehow feel responsible for providing them with a sure-fire fun and informative first ever trip to europe. i panic that i’m not prepared, or haven’t planned and researched enough. i’m worried that i’ll get there and just become a noodle of absolutely no-good as tour guide.
so my choice is to spend these next 6 days going in circles around my house staring at my millions of lists. frazzled and thinking i’m forgetting something. thinking i’m not prepared enough, not informed enough, not ready.
granted, we have our experts in the field readily waiting: a savvy designer friend & her brit husband to host us in chaotic london; a goofy wonderful college pal set up in surrey to drive us around quaint towns and a few castles; a hired car awaiting us and an actual scotsman to point us in the right direction on the wrong side of the road as we scour scotland for it’s myths & wonders; and a cozy, gorgeous apartment in paris that will afford us soft slumber and a place to hang our hats.
so, with the above trajectory of padded locales, hosts and accommodations, i think i’ve planned just about enough. leaving room for surprise, i’m done thinking and will now just relax and pack my bag. like the trips of old, not unlike that wacky old movie, ‘if it’s tuesday it must be belgium’, i can just throw care, planning and caution to the wind, throw things into a bag, pile the kids into the car, line up and board the plane, and see where it takes us. no over-planning, no agenda, no big feats to check off our list even before we land.
i think the expression, go with the flow, is what i’ll embrace. soak it in, see where the river (thames, dee, seine) take us, and come back stuffed with the newness of the old, the saturated in history, culture, language, olympics, souvenirs, beer, food, friends and a reinvigorated love of the world.