For the final Travelog entry, may I present my perfect children. I took hundreds of pictures of them, but published only a few on this website. In this technological era of tell-all exhibitionism and voyeurism, some of us still have a place for privacy. Yet I proudly show off this shot, and share these parting thoughts…
What a gift it was to lift you out of your classrooms and let you learn, instead, the lessons of experience. To sneak you away from your world of scheduled play dates, sports teams, digitalia, and potty-mouthed pop music. To let you live among new riddims, vistas, and cultures and, best of all, see you jump with joy at the chance. Literally. Over and over.
Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.” Oscar Wilde
Now you will both grow up fast, then grow old gradually. I know I’ve got MY ideas and dreams for you, like: Let’s run away again! Yet I honestly don’t know if we’ll be blessed with another family Sabbatical. It’s a small miracle we managed this one, and that it went so well. But oh my, what memories we now “carry about with us.”
So grow ahead, already. Grow ahead and get all independent, become skeptical of your parents, and perhaps eventually blame us for everything from zits to arthritis. No matter what happens, we had this time together. Just us. I see now that, on a long list of Missions, this one mattered most.
This photo, taken on our last full day, confirms that AllBoy has moved on; he has become Young Man. Heck, he’s strong enough to throw me in the pool, hurt me with his tackle, and outride me on the surf. He can run off alone and carry his own. His raconteur instincts can charm a stranger or a classroom.
CurlyGirl has grown up too, in so many ways; make way for Little Lady! The baby teeth have shrunk and the lifetime chompers are emerging—ready to bite into bigger things. Her speed and coordination are modeling her athletic brother’s. Playtime drifts from Polly Pockets to Scrabble. And she now insists on reading to me, rather than vice versa.
Let’s get together and feel alright.” Bob Marley
In this picture, the two of you together become one shadow—which signifies the connection you deepened, all by yourselves. (Parents can’t make you do that.) He’s 11, and she’s 5, so they played up and down or met at 8. They became best-friend sibs—a secret society with precious privileges that last a lifetime.
Now, firmly on home soil, they’re suddenly 12 and 6, yet the bond remains robust. In a world in which people obsess over careers, accomplishments, and self, perhaps the ultimate legacy we can strive for is strong offspring. No amount of time or energy given to that task—whatever may be the sacrifice—is too much.
But yes, you can go now. Go to your friend’s house, to a movie, on a date, to play a tournament, to summer camp. I’ve held you in my arms long enough. But you’re still welcome there. Any time.
With any luck, this BreakAway showed you that—in a way that words can’t. It also showed you that the world is so much bigger than your backyard, and its horizon is boundless. So are your possibilities.
But before signing off, may I say “thanks.” Thanks for agreeing to go; many kids would not. Thanks for holding my hand during the scary parts. For romping with me in the sun, sand, and sea. For reminding me how to laugh and splash and play again.
Wherever we may go, whatever may become of you, this is how I’ll always see you.
So here: Take this picture with you. Let’s keep it as proof of the blessed gift of taking our time—with nary a worry about the future or past—if only now and then.
I’ll still see this image when you become bigger and smarter than me. When you leave the house to find your own freedom and fates. When my heartbeat slows to a stop. And today, when our dreamy BreakAway has ended and carried us home, where we belong.