“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” This is what my son told me at the Denver airport last Saturday afternoon when I asked him what the Dr. Seuss quote was that Nana had just texted me that she had told him in a special conversation that morning. He remembered it so easily, after hearing it from her just that one time. He knew just what I was asking and told me in a very sincere, earnest voice. Such wonderful advice, yet deceivingly hard to follow.
I know I have nothing to complain about. People all over this world are going through seriously tough stuff and my family and I just came off a blissful, relaxing 5-week vacation filled with love and laughter and beauty in all its forms. Yet, I’ve still felt a bit melancholy this week. Yes, “a bit.” Apparently, that is an Australian phrase that I have adopted “a bit” too easily, a fact which some girlfriends picked up on after about 20 minutes of being around me and spent the next month teasing me about! Man, I love those girls.
It’s not that I don’t like it here. In fact, I consider my family exceptionally blessed to have citizenship in two amazing countries, both with abundant freedoms, incredible opportunities, wonderful lifestyles and gorgeous people. Most people in this world don’t have the benefit of the choices we have.
I’m just melancholy because I wish there was only a 4-hour flight separating the two countries, at a cost of around $400 per ticket. And because, even though, technically, we all speak the same language, I just wish SOMETHING else was the same, ANYTHING. Just give me the same seasons, or the same holidays or driving on the same side of the road, or the same sports…..anything? Anything? Just one thing that I feel an affinity for, a comfort and security in knowing it’s what I know, what I’m comfortable with, where I’m not SO foreign and clueless. Well we all know that’s not possible and that’s why I’m just “a bit” sad this week.
So how do I give a quick recap of our spectacular adventure? We started off with relatively smooth travel until arriving in the midst of a crazy Dallas ice storm, which result in Steve managing to drive us 17 miles in 2 ½ hours (over 4 times the amount of time it would typically take) after 30 hours of travelling to reach a dear friend’s house late that Friday night, the same day we left.
Once that was over, we enjoyed fresh, hot, home-cooked food with kind, generous friends whom we hadn’t seen in years. We rested. We visited. We stayed an extra day because Dallas had come to a standstill. We left on Sunday for San Antonio after a homemade hot breakfast and a packed lunch in our rental car, not knowing when or if we’ll ever see these friends again. She and I both believe we will—it just seems to happen.
We then spent 4 days sightseeing, resting, enjoying time off together as a foursome, doing whatever we wanted to do whenever we wanted to do. We caught up with more friends that we hadn’t seen in years, met each other’s families and therefore we all made new friends. We laughed. We ate. Chips and salsa. Guacamole. Margaritas. Microbrews. Our staples for the entire trip. We shopped. Again, said goodbye hoping to meet again one day.
We arrived in Denver at 7:30 the following Thursday morning and I couldn’t hug my parents tight enough. We were finally all together! We played in the little snow that was leftover from a previous storm without coats on, enjoying a beautiful sunny day. We hibernated. We just hung out, were together. Finally, the following evening my brother’s family came over and we meet the new baby cousin. The older cousins hadn’t skipped a beat and enjoyed each other like they’d seen each other yesterday. After all, when I told my niece how great it was to see her, she said, “We see you on the computer.” We do, and I am incredibly thankful for that! I’m so grateful we did not make this move 20 years ago!
Saturday afternoon we started catching up with friends. More chips and salsa. More good beer. More laughter. More hugs. More of that weird feeling like no time had passed at all. We’d never even left.
Here’s a bit of a highlight reel (boy, I do say it a lot!!):
-I got to spend an afternoon with just my brother and our 4 kids, just hanging out. It was beautiful.
-My Mom took us to the hospital where she volunteers to see the Flight for Life Center and we all got to sit in the helicopter (that was more of a boy highlight, mainly the big boy!).
-I got a night out with my girlfriends in Boulder, where I tried seven different types of salsa and lost count of my margaritas. Then I got to spend the night with one of them and meet a bunch of them again the next morning at the gym where the whipped my butt and reminded me how crazy fit they all are! I hadn’t had a girly overnight in over 2 years and it did wonders for me. Girlfriends are a true necessity!
-Speaking of girlfriends, I saw several! And their kids! Gorgeous mini-versions of them and their spouses, with time to just visit and chat while the kids played. And eat. Chips and salsa.
-The 4 of us went to Red Rocks one day to explore and Drew lost his 6th tooth while eating an apple in the car. The tooth fairy found him at our friend’s house that night—she definitely redeemed herself from the time she forgot to come!
-We went to Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo on a FREEZING cold night that was still enchanting, not only because of the amazing light displays, but because we were with my parents, my brother’s family, and dear friends.
-The boys went ice skating for the first time. They sledded. They built a snowman as well as the snow crocodile and snow caterpillar they had planned ahead of time. They skied (first time for Zach and first time on a chairlift for both). It turns out Drew is an adrenalin junkie in snow as well as in water, and Zach is just a tough guy. He persists; he’s careful and he learns how to do what he wants to do.
-We spent 5 nights midway through the month at a friend’s house in Boulder while they were out of town, so we not only got to soak up all beautiful Boulder has to offer (shopping, vegetarian food, chips and salsa, microbrews), but we had our own space, which really helped on such a long trip.
-I got to lay on a blanket out in the sun on a gorgeous day and just BE with a dear friend. We got to escape together and climb a Rocky Mountain (a small one, but still—man I miss hiking! I know there’s hiking here, but unless you’re from the mountains, you cannot possibly understand that it is just not the same. It’s like saying Colorado has water and beaches. Sure, there are both of those, but come on! They’re not real!).
-Steve and I got to jog together 3 times, shop together twice, have a morning coffee date and one date night where we ate chips and salsa and drank margaritas. See the pattern? 😉
-On Christmas Day, my parents had all 3 of their children and all 4 of their grandchildren in the same house. It was beautiful.
-We rang in the New Year in a cozy mountain cabin with lovely friends.
-I got to ski with my Dad on a warm, perfectly sunny powder day. I hadn’t realized how much I miss that, too! Man, those mountains are gorgeous! They take my breath away. I think I actually did ski some runs shouting “Whoooooooo!” the whole way down! There was just nothing else to say.
-We got to enjoy après ski at a great bar with a live band where I watched my Dad step pretty darn far outside his comfort zone to dance with my Mom who just can’t keep her feet still.
-I got to be with my Dad on his last day of work ever and share in that poignant life-changing moment for both of my parents.
-I got to introduce my Mom to a dear friend and mentor of mine and enjoy a special ladies morning out.
-We got to explore two seemingly endless Denver museums with friends and family.
-We swam in an indoor pool and sat outside in a hot tub with a mountain view.
-People came out of the woodwork asking to see us and made tremendous effort to accommodate us and make that happen.
-I had another night out with two of the most special people in the world to me.
-I got to celebrate my upcoming birthday with so many people that I love, smiling and laughing together. That was beautiful, too.
And then we left.
So much beauty, so much love, so much laughter, so much soul-filling joy crammed in to 5 weeks. How is it possible? How do you come down from an experience like that? I started sobbing as our plane lifted off into the air from Denver. Knowing I won’t see that beautiful place and all the beautiful people there for close to two years just tore my heart apart. I still tear up every time I think about it. This is a HARD move!
But, guess what? Then we came back. And a friend picked us up from the airport. And another friend dropped off our car and had mowed our lawn the day before. And another friend dropped off a meal for us that night, knowing we’d be tired. And another friend had our mail and took care of the house for us. And another friend housesat for us and cleaned our house and did our laundry for us. And it’s beautiful here. And people are happy to see us. And we are happy to see them!
I was all set to write tonight about what I miss about home and what I like about here, to compare it all and remind myself that I like both places.
However, my heart took me in a different direction. But I think it got me to the same place. What I take away from this experience is how INCREDIBLY BLESSED my family and I are! Our cups truly runneth over. Just writing about the number of friends we have and remembering the experiences we shared with each of them on that trip, and the kindnesses the ones here showed to us upon our return and during our absence, absolutely blows my mind. I feel it should be mathematically impossible to cherish this many people. But I do! I wouldn’t trade a single one of them.
This move is hard, incredibly hard. But it’s also blessed me in numerous ways. It’s opened my eyes and taught me about what is truly important in this life. It’s all about love and cherishing each other. I think my heart will always feel ripped in two. I’m not sure there’s any other way. But as long as it’s as full as it is, I can handle the tearing.