So, we have been back from our Norway/Denmark vacation for four days. The cat missed us as evidenced by her constant need to be attached to one of us at all times and if we leave the loft, just to put the trash down the incinerator, when we return she cries the most pathetic cry. The laundry had to be done, suitcases put away, one personal carry-on item for each of us had to be gone through and items thrown away. Work looms over us like the anticipation of that pesky eclipse. Today “don’t look at the sun” was followed by “good luck going back to work tomorrow”. I resisted the first part and spent much of the day looking at my feet while walking because my oppositional defiant behavior whispers in my ear “look up, look up at the sun” but I resisted. Tomorrow the first day back to school will be filled with “did you look at the eclipse” and I will say “no, I was ill prepared and feared for my eyesight” and my colleagues will know that I rarely stay up for the last game of the World Series, I haven’t ever watched Downton Abbey and I don’t actually know what “Game of Thrones” is about. I’m that person that doesn’t follow the crowd.
My FHB and I talk about our trip in glowing terms. We bask in our memories and process the days and revisit the highlights. And then there are the comments….real story:
Me: “Good night my Prince of Denmark”
FHB: Goodnight my Norwegian Princess”
Me: “I think you called me a giant cruise ship”….I’m not feeling the love…
FHB: You are ridiculous
Vacation is over. Familiarity bred contempt. A momentary acknowledgement that life goes on, as it should. We return to our respective corners of our world and responsibilities of our daily lives. We work so the cat can have her food. We take in the newspaper, we watch the news we missed while we were away, instead having focused on glaciers, herring and people watching. We met people from all over the world. We dined with a family from Singapore, another family from California, a couple from Australia and a woman with the best fiery attitude from Delhi, India. We met folks who were there to walk in the footsteps of their ancestral roots. One elderly gentleman and dairy farmer from Wisconsin, who walked with a cane, and whose every step was clearly painful, travelled with two of his adult children to see the land his parents came from. He said ” I have wished to see this land for such a long time and now I am here and complete”. Each traveller had a reason to choose this trip, whether it was to find out more about themselves, or couples like us, who want to see the beauty of the land which will exist long after we are gone. We could remain present and engaged in making memories. For as many times as I lifted the camera to capture a picture, there were more times when the camera became a barrier between what I was seeing and what I was taking in. The best pictures were those I took to keep in my mind. This was not a leisurely paced vacation. We were up at 6 a.m. and our luggage was put outside our door to be retrieved by 6:45. We were on the bus within the hour and off to see the land and to listen to the stories of the history of Norway and the social culture and conscience of this country. Much of how they live is based on all people truly having access to what they need (free health care and education) to live a good life. The rules that the citizens follow make sense and everyone understands the rationale. It seemed less emotional and more logical. It seemed as the first cab driver we met when we arrived said to us “It’s going to be an overcast and rainy week ahead. You will still see all the beauty of Norway and your enjoyment is only dampered by what you control. The weather is certainly not in any of our control. So we choose here to let the 99% we have no control over not bother us. ” We took those words to heart and saw past the rain and focused on the slivers of sunshine that teased us on some days.
We came home to the reality of disbelief and upended chaos. I turn to literature and find the following line from Hamlet ““Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
― William Shakespeare,
And with those words…I wish you a good night. May the moon stay in orbit of the earth and the sun.