Saturday, January 12, 2013

Home Leave

The second half of our eight week vacation finds us in the PNW...Pacific Northwest. If confronted, I would vehemently deny the fact that I am a Florida boy. I may have been born there, but as evidenced by my wanderings, my heart was already elsewhere. I just didn't know where, yet. So, as soon as I was able, I left. Baltimore, Colorado, Washington, DC, Brazil, India. Every few years, I circle back and tag home, with each subsequent sojourn taking me a little further away. Soon, I am likely to break the tether permanently. This would not be a bad thing. I am not writing this to bemoan Florida, but I have come to the conclusion it is a nice place to visit, and each time I touch down in what I am beginning to call my adoptive home, it becomes more comfortable and familiar.

I have my wife, Elise, to thank for that. When I was first introduced to mountains, snow and pine air as a young boy on a ski trip with my dad and brothers in Colorado, I knew instantly this was where I belonged. I moved to Boulder too late for my liking and left too early. If asked, one of my biggest regrets was leaving at all, but thank God I did, for had I not, I would never have met Elise and discovered the amazing life and greater adventures that I have found.

I find everything I love about Colorado here. I am not a complicated person. If I have coffee, a good run, my family and beer, I have everything I could want from life. Fortunately the PNW has the best of the things that sustain me. Though our lives have taken us to Brazil and will take us, again, to Washington, DC and then on to India, adventures worth leaving for.

As mentioned in previous posts, eight weeks of vacation with three children under five presents its own challenges. We are in between homes which leaves me with a sense of dislocation, as though in limbo. It is almost as though we could not exist as we no longer belong to Brasilia and do not yet belong to Falls Church and so there is no one but this blog and Facebook to keep us accountable for our actions. Therefore, I have to set my own goals. I know there is a colleague awaiting me in Washington, not quite an old running partner. I have not run with him in two years, so I must return in better shape than I left. I must push the pace in a ten-mile training run. It's the little things. Sometimes, I wish I wasn't so competitive.

And yet, these eight weeks have given me new gifts, including a moment of pure, unadulterated joy that almost brought tears to my eyes, then threatened to freeze those tears to my cheeks. Sam, Peter and I went sledding. While they are maybe a little too young not to be tentative, I took each of them a quarter of the way up the hill behind Elise's parents house. As I pulled them back in the sled through the snow, we stopped at the top of a nearby hill to survey the view. We could see the entire town below us and the far away mountains on the horizon.

This was something I had always dreamed of doing and it was a good feeling, a fantastic feeling to be able to give them this. I had dropped $360 at REI for new snowsuits for everyone and I would have paid three times that and still have felt as though I had received a bargain.

As we trudged back home, me pulling them over and up piles of snow, I was happy. The kind of happy that sticks in your throat. Sam had to get out every time the sled tipped forward down a brief descent, and Peter giggled wildly up and down as I pulled them along. I couldn't feel my fingers anymore, but I didn't care. I would have stayed out there forever.

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