Letter to Lucy
I am writing to you from my own breakfast table while Maryland songbirds trill a familiar morning soundtrack.
Next to me is our family kitchen, complete with sharp, usable knives and well-worn cookbooks, pages stained with drops of vanilla or soy sauce.
Caroline and Conor are still asleep in their cozy beds on pillows that smell like home; cats curled against them—one for each.
A gentle wash of light spills across our little wooden deck and, after days of drizzle and chill, the sky between the trees’ leafy branches sparkles blue—all the neighbors’ chimneys finally retired for the season.
In my cup, the one I love best with the little place to rest my thumb, steams freshly brewed coffee made irresistible with cream and sugar.
The refrigerator is stocked with milk and eggs and strawberries. Ice cubes (ice cubes!) in the freezer are being made mechanically while I type. I could fill buckets with them and more would spit out.
My computer is plugged in comfortably without an unwieldy tower of adapters precariously held up by stacked books.
All the clothes we stored while we traveled are unpacked and put in drawers. I am wearing new underwear!
And yet I feel unsettled.
Coins from strange countries mix with the dimes and quarters in my wallet.
It’s pampered dogs, instead of sea lions, greeting me with raucous barking on my morning strolls.
I cannot get cheap pad thai, good sangria, or real pita bread anywhere around here.
My children have dashed off in a thousand directions. No one is snapping photographs or posing with a background of volcanos or waterfalls or rhesus monkeys. We are no longer just the four of us in a frame.
The streets are quiet and the only touts and hawkers are on television, easily quieted by a button on my remote.
Remote is, in fact, how I feel.
Away from everything jangly and chaotic and new.
Away from the loud and the dirty and the colorful.
Away from unknown languages and unreadable signs.
Away from overloaded carts, hard-at-work elephants, tasseled long-lashed camels and the crazy rickshaw bicycles careening through it all.
I drive to the grocery store. Choose from among hundreds of brands of dishwashing liquid. Run into people I know on the street.
“How was it?” they ask. “Amazing,” I say and I really mean it.
But I am frustrated by the limits of that over-used word. Or of any I might choose to describe ten months of daily wonder.
Tell me you and Paul and the girls will come and visit.
I will make a touring plan and choose fun restaurants and cook dinner here as well. I will study amazing Washington, D.C. facts and casually mention, for example, that the Washington Monument is 555 ft. 5/8 in. high.
You can add photos of the White House to your vacation book in the pages after the Galapagos.
I’ll see my town and all its pretty and impressive places through the eyes of a traveler.
We hold our memories of the Galapagos tour as some of our very best of the year. How wonderful to have met you and your family on the GAP boat.
Thanks for staying in contact with me as we traveled. Give my best to the gang and enjoy summer in England.