A Dream of Europe – So Far Away

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In my previous post, I waxed nostalgic about our BEV (Big European Vacation).  This year, we’re going old school:  overloading the Family Car, filling it to the brim with cranky teens, unhealthy snacks, a cooler full of caffeinated drinks and whatever map apps our phones provide.

Remember the good old days when maps were paper? The person sitting in the passenger seat would be in charge of the pile of folded paper maps.  This co-pilot would squint at them, fold them and unfold them, rip them and turn them every which way but the right way while the driver of the overloaded Family Car tapped the wheel impatiently waiting to be told whether to turn left or right.

Trips like these were the reason cheap, ugly motels were invented.  We’re cashing in our Visa points to pay for the hotels en route.  We are even able to stay in some pretty swanky looking places.  But, as you all know, photographs lie.

The trip has been designed to visit friends and to show the kids places where their mom grew up.  Yes, Banshee is attempting to go home again – always a tricky business.

What if these places that meant the world to me are so changed as to be literally unrecognizable?  This is a fear not without basis. Landscapes change, villages change, sand dunes get bulldozed, what if there is a Wal-Mart right down the street from the White House?

I must be very careful not to set my expectations too high.  The places where I frolicked in my youth will be different.  The Atlantic beaches might seem less like paradise now that I’ve grown up.  The salt water taffy shop that I begged my mother to take me to every summer might seem downright tacky and overpriced now.

So, as usual, this trip will become an educational trip for me- with a big lesson on managing my own expectations and not imposing mine on everyone else. And another thing: I’m American; I feel very strongly that my kids should get a taste of where I grew up, the places that mattered to me, the things that I took for granted in my own backyard. At the end of the day, though, I have to let them have their own opinions about these places.

My kids are pretty thoroughly Canadian now even though they were born in the States.  They have acquired very Canadian attitudes towards Americans – an attitude which is difficult to describe.  Consider it a sibling rivalry type of relationship.  I can only pray we do not cause some kind of international incident.

I will be blogging along the way just as I did last year.  Me being me, I’ve already catalogued a list of things to worry about:

American medical care should we become sick, injured, or otherwise impaired.  Hurricane season – late August is prime time.  Faulty memories about my hometown (where the hell is Foggy Bottom?)  My new phobia about  big city” traffic – Perhaps I should send Mayor Bloomberg a quick note of warning/apology…

I’m toast.  Stay tuned…

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