When Andrea and I married each other we knew it was the union of two adventurous spirits. With our new rings still shining brightly on our fingers, we rolled out maps and marked off all of the places that we would go with one another. We had spent 7 years travelling the world separately, sending endless emails and pictures through wires spiderwebbing the globe with our various forms of long distance correspondence, in various forms of long distance relationships. So, when we finally were able to run fast enough in the right direction to collide in space, we were ready to unite and continue running, only this time holding each other’s hands on the way.
We spent our wedding money on a single trip to Russia, and immediately started saving money for a second to some other unmapped corner of the world. However, the money for that trip was spent a few years later on a bouncing baby girl. “It’s okay.” we told friends, “this little girl is going to climb on our shoulders and we will take her around the world with us. We are going to go on such amazing adventures and come home penniless and happy.”
But the distances between our life and the rest of the world continued to grow. As if we had built our home on a block of ice that was slowly drifting further and further away from shore. We planned for simpler things. How about just a trip to Hawaii, maybe? That would be an adventure, right? Then we had another baby.
Our travel guides were replaced with parenting books. Our metro maps were tossed to make room for math workbooks. Foreign language textbooks were replaced with English writing journals. By the time a third child boarded the plane we were so weighted down we could barely reach the end of the runway. A simple trip to the grocery store seemed impossible. Europe? Australia? Where are they even?
I lift my telescope to look at the horizon and realize my telescope has been replaced by a kaleidoscope. Somewhere in the tumble of stained glass, shadows move giggling across the room. I lower the kaleidoscope and find that the world itself is a tumble of stained glass. Our home is a kaleidoscope. Our life is a kaleidoscope. In our chest beats a kaleidoscope heart.
“Who clipped our wings, Sweetheart?” I call into the roiling chaos, “We used to soar so high, and see so far!” Somewhere in the confusion, a soft voice answers, “No one clipped our wings, Dear. We just use them for a different purpose now.” I catch three screaming children in my arms and I suddenly understand. I shield them under a blanket and watch as they fall asleep.
So now we take our adventures on the living room floor. We build our hide-aways out of Legos, and set sail on the kitchen table. I reach out in the dark and find a warm hand that perfectly fits inside of my own, like two perfectly sanded pieces of wood coming together. We are rooted in place, but the jumbled patterns that surround and disorients us is a crown of fallen fruit. Sweet, ripe and beautiful.
I carefully arrange my wife and I on a dock overlooking the water and take a picture of the closest thing we have to a real adventure. It is no surprise the following afternoon when we discover that our children have smashed our seaside cottage to pieces and my head has been lost somewhere under the couch. Art imitates life.
Andrea, I would rather be headless and trapped living under a couch with you and the children, than with anyone else, anywhere else in this whole entire world.