It comes as quite a big surprise to me that five months into this 180 day journey, I am able to look back and say that the overarching theme of this trip has been... Family.
Not Adventure, not Freedom, not Creativity, not even Service. Yes, these have all been a tremendous part of this chapter - and continue to be - but it seems that Family is #1.
NOT what I expected.
I was not raised to put a tremendous import on family - current, past or future. Instead, Independence and Individuality were the Essences around which I was raised.
I had never really thought about getting married until the day I did get married, barefoot on the side of the road. My oldest daughter was the first baby I held for more than a few minutes, even though I had much younger siblings (yet when my kids were born, my inner mom bubbled up to the surface effortlessly and I remember once feeling that the whole world existed right there, in that big bed with my three babies and their dad. I needed nothing else.)
So when I slipped on my backpack, last September 1st, a new relationship to Family was not what I expected to find.
I found it everywhere.
I found it in the hole in my heart during long days walking alone through olive groves by the Mediterranean, in Italy. I found it in the choking back of tears, listening to Christina tell me about her 97 year old mom and how she sees her everyday, no matter what. I found it in the complete peace I felt falling asleep under the same roof as my kids for a few nights, in France.
I found it when my heart burst instantly watching a man sing to his infant son while lounging on bench in a fancy Torino street.
I recognized it in the veiled women holding their daughters' hands in the streets of Marrakesh.
I found it when I read about Thessaloniki and the ways my family had come as refugees from Spain and made a new life in the Ottoman Empire. I felt it while walking the streets of that very city with my son, sister and nephew, all of us looking uncannily like everyone else there. I knew it in my belly when I heard the haunting sounds of rebetika music in a small Greek taverna, late on the night of my birthday. I remember the deep sense of belonging to that land, and I now feel the strong pull to return.
I heard it when giving rides to families of refugees on Lesvos island.
I reveled in it it while TV bingeing / recuperating on my sister's bed last week in Florida, and I lived it while sitting in my mom's living room, her apartment filled with the furniture she brought from France 35 years ago, as she invited me to please pick what I wanted - and asked me the heart-breaking question of what was going to happen to all her stuff when she was gone?
Again, I did not know.
As an adult, I had been doing a whole lot of running from my family of origin for as long as I remember. Fast and far.
I thought maybe this trip was another version of the running, and I was okay with that.
I did not know that the running would take me to this layered unveiling of my heart, to the place where family - past, present and future - sits on a thrown of love and kindly asks for the right to reign.
What this means and how this look, I sure don't know.
I am guessing that's the next gift.
"Every time I read your blog I am so profoundly happy I did. The truth you speak is just mindboggling. The real, real voice you have. It makes me almost crazy how much I love your words and your way of telling stories that cut to the quick- and I never have the words to really say how much this all means to me.
Thank you for digging in there and finding the gems of wisdom and then just sharing them out as if there's an endless supply ... which with you, there is."
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I write because this is the way I am able to taste life more deeply.