We were fed, hugged and, well, pampered with pictures and stories.
It's a really different experience leaving.. arriving.. shaping emptiness, as opposed to trying to pre-fill a hole you know, is coming into your life.
I was thinking about what people talked about bringing back from Europe.. cuckoo clocks, expensive cars, crystal, glassware.. It all sounds ridiculous to me. I like these things, but in the end they are just more to dust, fuss over, insure and move. Okay, I hate cuckoo clocks.
We had an expensive car. Turns out they are expensive to repair, too!
Cg indulged me on the crystal. We have a few pieces, from a cut vase, to my black iridescent necklace, to some royal blue bottles and glasses, which will keep us ornamented for many years. We picked up a little nice glassware, not a lot. Mostly fun beer Krugs and mugs. An odd assortment of painted eggs..
What am I *really* bringing back from Europe?
A language I never expected to learn. I'm not great at German, not at all. But I am slightly conversant.
Experiences. Climbing the hillsides of the great fortresses and wandering their walls.
The Ionian Ocean. Prague, Cesky Krumlov. Munich. Berlin. Athens (another damned old church..) Freiburg and the Alsace. Wandering the Pagan Wall in the Vosges, howling on All Hallows with French kids and mischief-makers.
Ireland! the 10pm sunsets of the Arran Isles, and knowing my way around places I have never been before.
I learned that if I can be close to the earth, and become intimate with the ways of the seasons in a place, I can be home. I am always home in Mama Natura's lap, and this is where I have to go, to find my way around.
Wandering the flanks of the great old fortresses and forests, my hands tracing Achillea vulgaris and nobilis, the healer's and travellers' herbs.. wild thyme in the Vosges, wildly fragrant marjoram by Kallmunz on the Vils and Donau.
Only a few of these places did we visit, for the place alone.
Most of them we visited, because of the people who invited us.
It's the friendships we made here, that we keep. Not the things that need dusting, insuring and fussing. A friendship is like a plant, just tend to it when it needs. Dried out and thirsty is no good, nor is drowned.
You know the friends you have made, by whom you see when you go away. Who you hear from.
Who did you help? Who helped you? Who made you laugh, who supported you?
Who do you know, when you meet again, you will just pick right back up?
It's hard to elucidate, for the one-pagers (those who never leave their home) what the rest of the book is like. It's a heartache, a headache, sure. But travel, especially leaping off the way you have to, to actually live somewhere foreign, opens your mind and heart so much..
I can't say it makes it easier. Nothing could.