I'm an Anti-Tourist
For my birthday, I bought myself a couple plane tickets, a polaroid camera, some film packs, and took a week off of work. After spending that week in the air and on the road, I wish this was a birthday gift I could give everyone I love for theirs.
Plane ticket number one took me to Austin, TX, perhaps my second favorite city in the country, and back to see this branch of my chosen family tree for the first time in over two years.
Drew began the Adventure Day tradition at the age of three in Blacksburg, VA, and it's a tradition that's been kept alive and well ever since. Getting back to this kiddo and his sweet family just in time for a double birthday Adventure Day was so good for my soul, and I hope for his too.
Somehow, two more reunions were managed in Austin. Rachel and I reminisced about our college days and played in the streets of Austin's SoCo District just long enough to miss the train I meant to catch home and to learn that she (and her dog, Evie) drive one mean getaway car.
But not before she gave up the modeling gig and turned one of my cameras on me... (thank you, Rachel!)
This beautiful face I hadn't seen in years, but our paths always seem to cross at the exact right time, and when they do, it's like we never missed a beat. Randi's departure from Virginia seven years ago was a tearful goodbye, but I remember sending her off with a copy of Dr. Seuss' "Oh The Places You'll Go" knowing that she'd move mountains on her journey... she's moved many, and I'm so proud of her for it.
I've really never been good at goodbyes... and this was another hard one, but the reason the crying subsided earlier than previous Austin, TX airport cries was because plane ticket number two was taking me back to New Mexico after a year long absence.
And holy transformation, a year may as well be a decade in the life of a toddler.
We played, we laughed, we cried (they sometimes cried a lot, because being two is terribly hard), we read books, we took walks, we made food, we ate food (they sometimes played with their food), we continued some family traditions, and we spent some invaluable time getting to know each other again at this stage of our lives, and it was the best.
These are the kinds of picture perfect moments that you anticipate having when you go on vacation, but my favorite moments are always the ones in between.
Like, waking up in the wee hours of the morning with a baby and being a lullaby jukebox for a few hours. Or cooking good food in a kitchen that remains familiar no matter how much time passes because sometimes a little homemade goes a long way. Letting the kids be kids even when it means things might get a bit messy.
Starting a living room dance party before 8am, because why not? And laughing during the 15th tantrum of the day because in another 7 seconds that very unhappy toddler is going to forget what they're crying about and want to read a favorite book for the 23rd time that day and your heart will melt all over again.
So, to my beautiful friends who live so far away and over-apologize on repeat for "boring" visits - I love you.
I am an anti-tourist.
I don't need (and often don't want) to go where other people want to go when I come to visit. I just want to meet you wherever you are in your life, be a part of your world again, and try to lighten your load a little while I'm there because life with a far away village is hard.
I want to see the places you like to visit, to read your kid's their favorite book(s), to know what milestones they're hitting, how to get to your grocery store, what your house smells like, how to make your favorite food, where to put your dishes away, how to fold your laundry, how you put their littles to bed at night and what your mornings are made of.
Our visits are so short. All I want is to see your lives exactly as they are so I can picture it clearly after I'm gone.
So please, don't ever apologize for the time we have together... it is the greatest gift... and thanks to you, my forever birthday wish is to spend my birthday week with a handful of polaroids and armfuls of people I love.