The New Year came quietly to us in North Africa. Having sent Gramps and Grammy off in the pre-dawn darkness to make their way to the airport in Tunis on New Year’s Eve we enjoyed an extra long day to end 2008. There was no party to attend and no champagne to drink. Instead we splurged on two bags of Bugles and a bottle of Coke to sip while we watched movies sub-titled in Arabic and dozed on the couch. Our usual tradition of watching Dick Clark in New York and seeing the big shiny ball drop was replaced by watching the fireworks in Athens, Greece, on the Al-Jazeera network instead. We were on the phone with family back home when the clock struck midnight here… only dinner time in Indiana… it’s not every day that you can call into last year! We had a transcontinental celebration while the Tunisians around us set off firecrackers and fired guns in the air as a lady in the next building over welcomed 2009 by leaning off of her balcony and trilling loudly. We were in bed before the parties even started in North America.
The turning of a new year is always a time of reflection for me. I’m not one to make resolutions; I break them by the fifteenth of the month. I do, however, take time to reflect on the year that has passed and my path for the coming months. It is a time to be thankful, to learn from the mistakes made last year and try to grow into a better wife, mother and friend for the coming year. It is a time of marking calendars with important dates and making plans for coming months and I’m finding it all harder than ever this year. Maybe because our year has been so weird and our plans are still so open ended. Maybe because my structured, schedule loving self has finally found a modicum of flexibility in life on the road and I care less about laying out the coming year than I have in the past. Maybe because I simply can’t imagine where we’ll be a year from now. Who knows?
What I do know is that the past year has been incredible. It has been an adventure beyond our wildest dreams, from laying carpet one year ago today in our soon to sell house, to becoming homeless, to wandering the world and learning bits of four new languages along the way. We knew last January that we’d celebrate this New Year in Africa… but we had no idea what an amazing ride it would be getting here! Good and bad, uphill and down, I wouldn’t trade a day of it. Well… I might trade a couple of days, actually… the two really bad uphill ones, one in Germany, one in Italy… and there was that one in Vienna too… but, I digress.
As for the coming year, the only hard date I can promise is January 28th… the day the our visas for Tunisia expire and the ferry leaves for France. We’ll be on it. We’ll spend February and March in France and Spain, if all goes well, and fly for “home” (whatever that means!) no later than mid-April, since our Schengen visas will expire by then. “And what will we do next?” Everyone is asking, and we still don’t know. We’ll live in our camper. Tony will work. We’ll set about building the next phase of our lives. From where we sit now the number of options is dizzying. We could go anywhere… do anything. What we do know is that our priorities have changed. We were already weird when we left, we know this, you know this… most of you are kind enough not to point it out too regularly and to love us in spite of ourselves. I must warn you that we are coming home even weirder… and we like it. We’ve learned just how little we need to be happy and how very little things like money and stuff matter in the face of relationships and experiences from the eternal perspective. Those of you who’ve been hoping we’ll “come home” and “settle down” and get on with “normal life” may have to extend a little more grace to us and be patient with who we’ve become. We’ve missed our friends, family and community dearly and the best day of all of 2009 will be the day we hit the ground in Boston and the hugging begins.
If you pray for us, pray for our continued safety and a joy filled last three months of our journey. Pray also for direction as we build a new life and continue to walk the path before us.
It is our prayer for each of you that the new year hold only the best for your families: health, happiness, peace, abundant love and joy in the journey. May God bless the work of your hands and the intentions of your heart and may each day be an adventure in its own way.