Several people asked me why we pulled up stakes immediately after graduation and flew 4,000 miles to visit England and Scotland. I had many reasons. First, after such a difficult semester (see previous blogs regarding terrorist threats and suicides), I desperately wanted to gather my family around me and take them far away. Second, the trip was a joint celebration of graduation and our twentieth wedding anniversary, and I have long hoped to take the children to Europe. I wanted the kids to see that they could manage international travel, that the world is so grand - amazing and full of adventure - that they should prioritize study and work abroad programs. As to the choice of countries, the family all voted on London and then split on Spain, France and Scotland for our second choice, and I went with Scotland because I'm 42% Scots-Irish and, well, Outlander.
One of the stories I heard overseas was that a certain percent of Americans voted for a mock petition to abolish Arabic numerals. I assume the respondents were alarmed at the thought of immigrating digits, and failed to recognize that the 1,2,3,4, etc that we all learned in pre-K are, in fact, Arabic. A cringe-worthy narrative, but I couldn't help but chuckle. Here's our trip by the Arabic numbers:
22,489 - Number of steps we walked on our busiest day in Edinburgh (over ten miles)
1,900 - Age (in years) of the Roman column we saw in York which was part of the original city
257 - Stairs to the top of St. Paul Cathedral in London, also very similar to the number of narrow, winding stairs required to get to the roof of York Minster Cathedral
24 - Hours of travel to get home from London
10 - Hours spent on trains between London, Edinburgh and York (delightful!)
8 - Times we spent crossing Abbey Road trying unsuccessfully to mimic the Beatles' famous album cover
6 - Hours of sunshine we had in Edinburgh out of the three-day visit
5 - Number of roller bags wheeled through countless city streets from tube or train station to hotel/air b'n'b, usually in a single-file line led by a clueless parent
4 - Number of times we almost got hit by a car after looking the wrong direction for traffic
3 - Number of nights to (mostly) recover from jet lag
2 - Happily married parents, even after 9 days of travel
1 - Picnic in Kensington Gardens with dinner from Whole Foods
The numbers can't adequately express either the shocked joy I experienced when William and Daniel bonded unexpectedly under their umbrella in Edinburgh, or the horrific smell of feet in our small hotel room after five days of walking. Nor does it evoke the delight on Aden's face as we bought groceries in the M & S near our London B'n'B, or the children's awe at seeing the historical graves in Westminster Abbey.
Though we were surprised and pleased to survive a trip in such close proximity, we all longed for home at the end of the trip and have spent the last four days recovering and rejoicing in Colorado and our friends and routines here. It was hard for Aden to leave her coaching job, for William to leave his swimming schedule and friends, and for Daniel to be separated from his baseball team, and I know that the difficultly will only increase in the future as summer jobs evolve into internships and the bonds of friends / significant others requires us either to travel without a family member or bring an additional one along.
As the London Metro announcers said without ceasing during our countless rides, "Please mind the gap between the train and the platform," and we thank jobs and teammates for minding the gap between our successful graduation in wintry weather and the start of a pleasant summer in a suddenly green Colorado. I'm so grateful that we went, and that we came back.