It comes in waves. Today is a bad day. We are seven months or so into our travelling adventure and I’m aware that each bad spell feels a little harder; each new start after visitors have left takes a little more energy. Poring over maps feels daunting rather than uplifting on days like these.
We’re in Istria still and have been here for around three weeks. After Rob’s parents left us near Trieste we had a couple of weeks to kill before our friends, the Parry family, were due to visit. Hanging around without a clear plan, with very little money for fun or luxury camping, kills momentum. We struggled, or rather I, struggled. The many frustrations of living a life within a few square metres were getting to me, along with grumpy children and nowhere to escape to. On a bad day the list goes on and on.
Then our friends arrived and we spent a blissful week of children playing together, swimming in crystal waters, eating out and drinking too much. All was well with the world and we felt so free when we condsidered that we didn’t have to go home at the end of the week, that our life of sun and sea would continue for months to come.
And yet…without those special people here to share it all with, it actually can feel a little empty. A list of places to visit, an imaginary line on a map.
I haven’t spoken to my dad in over a month, he’ll be 80 next year and I miss him like crazy on days like these. Being of the generation that fall into into the category of either ‘silver surfer’ or ‘totally clueless’ when it comes to the internet, he sadly falls into the latter group. This means that he, of all the people in my life, probably hears from me least.
My mum tells me it’s been too long since she gave me a hug and I’m inclined to agree. My niece has found her voice while we’ve been away but I’m missing out on everything she has to say. I left my cousin with a tiny babe in arms and that same babe is now tearing up the town I’m told, but I’ve yet to see her causing chaos with my own eyes; I’ve yet to see her parents becoming the fantastic mum and dad I always knew they’d be. My nephew starts school in a few weeks and I want to be able to go and see him in his smart new uniform and chase him for a hug.
Apart from a few brief chats (between attending to the demands of our families) with my wonderful pal when she was here, I have been without the irreplaceable company of a circle of wise and warm women. The women who help me understand who and what I am, that tolerate my frequent rants over a pint and offer love and empathy when I’m messy with troubles. What I wouldn’t give to share this life with them, to have them round for dinner at the van, to sit on the beach with them and watch our children play along the shore.
The hardest part is hearing how the boys miss home. It’s not surprising; children crave the comforts of familiarity more than even we adults do. Our life in the valley was full with the rhythm of the seasons; birthdays and holidays, festivals and events, the sweet small rituals of the everyday.
On days like today, I feel it all.
Yesterday though, I woke early to a clear bright day and a view of the sea. There was a breeze that made the soft new growth of the pines trees bounce and bob. I was eager for the journey and full of fresh energy. The night before, as the sun set majestically over the sea, and we settled down in the van for the night, Eli sighed a big happy sigh and declared ‘I’m so satifisfied’ and I knew how he felt.
Everything moves, whatever life we choose – and I do realise how lucky I am to have a choice – the good and bad days come and go. The weather remains ever mercurial, even in the Mediterranean.