One morning last week I woke up, pulled the drapes and saw THIS.
Nothing can make my heart sing in December quite like the sight of snow-covered streets upon waking. The whole period between (American) Thanksgiving and New Year’s known as ‘the Holidays’ can be a tough time to be an expat. All the adventure and excitement can be overshadowed by the sense that you are missing yet another year of traditions and family and familiarity at home. Homesickness is inevitable but manageable. And this cozy snowy sight made me feel at home. Here.
It was Dave’s day off, so I left these two on the couch, rounded up my dogs, bundled up and marched outside.
I want to tell you that my life is all zen and balance, but the truth is that it’s very rare for me to leave our apartment and venture out by myself. When we are home in the summer I have the luxury of my mom, my sister, even my best friend to take my daughter for a while whenever Dave is away and I need a break. But here we are parents on a parenting island with some fellow castaways to help us when we’re desperate. Most days I’m either traipsing about town with a 2-year-old in tow or on a family outing. So this walk on this cold morning felt so lovely and light. And free.
I imagine if she could speak English she’d say “Is this really happening?” or perhaps “Make it stop.”
The unusual quiet of the main street of Nikko was incredibly calming. The hush that snow creates coupled with the slow wake-up of a Japanese town made for a wonderfully solitary feeling. Just me and my thoughts and the occasional elderly person shoveling a 4 foot length of side-walk in front of their shop.
On mornings like this I remind myself how lucky we are to have landed here, of all the places a hockey family can be in the world. I spent all my formative years in a place of intense and plentiful natural beauty. I thrive on the sight of trees and water. I want to love cities, and I do enjoy a visit, but deep down I belong closer to rocks and dirt. A walk in any direction from my apartment here will find me in a forest, near a river, at the foot of a mountain. Where I love to be.
One of the best things about these rare solo-expeditions is that I’m never without companionship. I am not answering to a toddler or juggling the needs of a partner, but my dogs are still keeping me company. They appreciate the freedom that this unencumbered moment allows them. And my dog-mother guilt about living in an apartment, about them spending hours every day as ‘baby’ or ‘patient’ or ‘horse’ for my daughter, about not getting every single moment of my attention ever, is alleviated if only for an hour or so. It’s lovely to see them, just them, without having to keep an eye on my child. Just watching their joy, their spirit, their zest.
He’s like a little rocket made of teddy bears.
I don’t want to sound too zen or anything, but it is amazing how an hour by myself in the chilly quiet of a morning walk can recharge my battery. By the end of the walk Enid was shivering and Falcor was happy and my cheeks were rosy. And I missed my girl. We spend hour after hour together all day, every day, and after just one on my own I was ready for more.