When my 11-year-old daughter and I decided we would go to Paris, it was largely a reaction to our visit to India, which is not an easy place for inexperienced American travelers, one of whom was under the age of 10 at the time.
Securing our visas alone was quite the adventure and that was before we’d ever left Nashville. Getting to the Taj Mahal? Holy wow. THAT was the most difficult travel experience I imagine I’ll ever have.
So upon our return to the US after that trip (and really, I don’t mean to slag on India; we’re both very grateful to have had that experience), 9-year-old Lily asked if we could go … somewhere different than India … the next time we left the country.
Two years later, Paris it would be.
Paris with my 11-year-old daughter, Lily. Our second morning, jetlagged and confused, but figuring things out.
We are back in our room after leaving at 6 am to take a tour of castles in the French countryside. We didn’t make it. We missed our bus by 5 minutes even though we left an hour and 15 minutes early.
I just couldn’t figure out the subway and got lost too many times to get there in time. So we will do castles tomorrow. Lily was great while I had my tearful meltdown. It is raining and cold, and this kind of day is better suited to museums and hot chocolate anyway, she said.
A theory on places where there aren’t a lot of people:
In such places, there is less static separating the present from other points in time.
And because those places lack the clutter of development and the noise of people’s daily busyness, they aren’t as anchoring to the present, harried moment.
They are good places to disconnect and reflect, allowing us to remember we are occupying but a small moment in the history of this world. Whatever is weighing on us right that second is truly irrelevant in the grand scheme.
Here are a small handful of such escapes.
Keeneland; Lexington, Ky.
In no particular order, though I numbered them just to make it easier to read – here are some sweet little moments from my 2011. I think when you’re having a great time, every little bit of it sparkles.
1. Lily in the Heathrow airport: It is a complicated airport and we were racing to catch our connection to Bangalore, India, and we had to ride a shuttle, a train, and pass through several security clearances. Just getting to this point had been a bureaucratic nightmare, and I think my mother and I had our doubts we’d ever get to India. My daughter Lily, 9 at the time, never waivered. My favorite moment is standing on a shuttle, feeling a certain peace at our lack of control over the situation. I looked at Lily and she said very calmly, “We’ll make it.” I thought for the first of many times on that trip – Damn, she is so grown-up.
I took these pretty door photos in India in June, and I’ve been meaning to find a use for them.
So, of doors and what to do with them… Continue reading
You can’t go all the way to India and not visit the Taj Mahal.
That was our thinking when we planned an excursion from Bangalore in Southern India to Agra in the north.
But in ways, it is easier to get from Nashville, Tenn., to the other side of the world. (And that’s saying something.)
Our journey involved planes, trains and automobiles – plus rickshaws and camels. It featured scam artists, 100-degree heat, lost luggage, groping and leering. People (my mother) panicked. Other people (me) cried.
By the end, I had two thoughts. One: I want all my friends who think I’m a princess to see if they can handle what my family experienced. Two: I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
That is what I expect to feel when I return from India, and that is what I feel right now.
I feel grateful my visa came through – this Tuesday, less than a week before we are set to leave – after a mountain of paperwork and bureaucracy.
I am grateful for friends who helped and encouraged my mom, daughter and me when we were skeptical that would happen.
I am grateful for people who remind me India isn’t a retreat to relax the body, but rather an experience to enrich the spirit.
I am grateful I have the kind of parents with whom I want to travel the world, and the kind of kid who wants to join us.
We leave Monday afternoon.
I plan to write and take pictures. In the meantime, we’re rushing to pack and prepare.
We are grateful for advice and kindness. (We have a growing list of questions on the next page.)