It is good to be home, sleeping in my own bed, using my own bathroom, and walking around barefoot without wondering what my feet are touching and being infected with.
One thing I know for sure: I don't miss living in a college dorm and sharing the bathroom with countless people. Yikes!
Another thing I know for sure: I've still got it - the travel bug, that is. Sixteen hours in the minivan a week ago today as we made our way from Charlotte to Williamstown, Massachusetts. Then on Sunday we drove from Williamstown to Manchester, Vermont. From Vermont to Danbury, Connecticut on Monday. On Tuesday we drove from Danbury to Winchester, Virginia, where we spent much of the night under tornado warnings and watches. Then yesterday we completed the final leg of our journey: from a brand new Country Inns and Suites in the middle off VA to our favorite bed and breakfast of all: our very own home.
We spent a quiet, prayerful hour on the campus of Virginia Tech yesterday, walking around, wandering through the main campus bookstore and student center, and picking up lunch. Posters, memorials, and a quilt with the names and faces of the victims reminded us of the sorrow that VT bears two months after that unspeakable tragedy. My son asked one simple question as we approached the campus in the van: "Is it safe?"
Some of the highlights of the trip:
Seeing old friends at Williams.
Listening to the stories of what my classmates are doing with their lives.
Thoroughly enjoying all the questions they asked about homeschooling. "You do what? What made you decide to do that? How much longer will you continue with it?"
Making new friends.
Walking languidly, blissfully, through two of my favorite museums in the country: The Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Museum of Art. Awed. Amazed. Wowed by the magnificent Renoir, Millet, Pisarro, Prendergast, and too many others to name.
Eating as many raspberry linzer cookies as I could get my greedy hands on.
Finding and buying one of the most colorful, bedazzling scarves I'd seen in a long time - and getting compliments on it the first time I wore it.
Basking in the grand and not-so-grand memories of my days as an undergrad in Williamstown. Being thankful for each memory and writing many of them in my journal.
Recognizing the many changes on campus in architecture, policies, and population. Accepting those changes and honoring the good intentions of the college to meet the needs of its faculty and students.
Taking a few minutes every day to recognize the many changes in myself, accepting those changes, and honoring the fact that my needs too must be met.
Being humbled by and enormously grateful for my children's ability to ride in the minivan for hours and hours on end without complaining. No TV or DVD player on board. A couple of electronic handheld games, 6th Grade Brain Quest cards, a book I read aloud to them, drinks, snacks, and an innate willingness to gaze contentedly out at the mountains and valleys, the farms and cows, the truck stops and rest areas that we passed - that's all it took to keep them contented for nearly 30 total hours in the car. At one point I told them that they do not understand how unusual they are in their ease at car travel - they are a lot like their mother: put me in a car, on a bus, on a train, on an airplane and send me anywhere. I LOVE TO TRAVEL!
As always, there is much to process. Much to journal still. And always many thanks to be raised for safe travel through blazing sun, flashing lightning, and torrential downpours (thanks be to God for much-needed rain), for peaceful travel (it's one of the very few trips when my husband and I returned home as friends and not angry combatants), for the emails, text messages, and prayers of friends, and for the fact that our home is still standing, in one piece, and not under attack by Charlotte's fierce insect brigade. And Maya seems to have survived her first stay at a kennel without any apparent trauma to her body or spirit.
All is well.