Growing up in a small, rural town on the West Coast, only rich people--you know, like in movies--traveled to Europe. I had my hopes but didn't think I'd ever really make it over there, so I couldn't believe that her mind hadn't been completely blown by the experience.
Flash forward eight years, and I'm married and flying to Europe for the first time. To live there. I wish I would've had a blog or kept a journal back then; I can't imagine exactly what I was thinking and feeling. I do remember wandering around Venice for the first time, winding through the tiny alleys, when suddenly, unexpectedly, we popped out into St. Mark's Square. I was unprepared and became so overwhelmed that I started crying and made Jason retreat with me, back into the alleys, until I could collect and mentally prepare myself for the moment.
When we went back into the square, I breathed it all in and tried to commit it to memory, this feeling of being in a new and amazing place for the first time, a place I wasn't sure I'd ever get to be and yet, somehow, seemingly miraculously, was.
Living in Italy is vastly different (in both very good and very challenging ways) than flying over and touring for two weeks, and I quickly began to understand (at least a bit) my friend's attitude.
When you daydream about sitting at an outdoor cafe sipping cappuccino, everything, of course, is perfect. But in reality, even at that outdoor cafe with your cappuccino, you've got jet-lag, or you've been walking for hours and your feet hurt and you're cursing yourself for bringing your cute shoes instead of your practical, comfortable shoes, or it's hot and you're sweaty and why is there no air conditioning anywhere, or you're annoyed with your traveling companion(s), or you're hungry, or you're frustrated that nobody seems to understand your attempts at the language, or you got an e-mail from a friend back home who's in crisis and you're distracted thinking about it.... you know, life-ness. Those everyday, mundane human concerns it's all-too-easy to get caught up in, whether you're at home or on the other side of the world; hunger, thirst, exhaustion, annoyance, discomfort, worry--oh, how they follow us, wherever we go.
Which isn't to say, of course, that you can't still have your moment, sipping your cappuccino and gazing around at how Italian everything is, how different from your normal life, how amazing it is to be here... you just have to pay more attention, working harder to listen through all the noise.
I love being pregnant. I've wanted to be here, in this series-of-moments, for oh-so-long and wasn't sure I'd ever get to be. And I've been lucky [knock-knock-knocking on wood] and am having a wonderful pregnancy. I'm trying to commit to memory these amazing moments as they happen, to slow down and breathe them in. I'm not sure I'll get to be pregnant again (although I'm already hoping I will be), so I'm trying to enjoy it as much as anyone possibly can.
Yet, life-ness happens. Exhaustion, hunger, worry, preoccupation, discomfort; they take up residence in the forefront of our brains so it's harder to see--or just easier to miss--the bigger, more amazing picture.
I get wrapped up in computer work or a project or [something/whatever] and my brain is fully occupied, thinking about formulas in Excel or my To Do list or how I can combine two different ring sling tutorial patterns to make exactly what I want (I have a bit of a tendency to become, shall we say, mentally immersed). And, wheels still turning in my brain, I
I'm walking in downtown Portland, my hips hurting, wondering if I should find a chiropractor while I'm visiting here, and I catch someone looking at me and my belly and smiling...
I'm wading through e-mail and she suddenly kicks...
I'm getting dressed after a shower and see my bare belly in the mirror on the headboard...
....and I fall in love all over again.
I hate to admit it, but sometimes when I lived in Italy I was annoyed that life-ness got in the way of how I thought things would/could/should be.
Now, I'm so grateful for this life-ness that temporarily steals me away, allowing me to rediscover my joy and amazement and gratitude, over and over and over again in a thousand unexpected ways.