We're back from our travels with many tales to tell. It feels surreal to arrive back home having seen so much, done so much, and met so many people--it's especially surreal because San Diego hardly changes. The weather was sunny and warm when we left in September; ditto for mid-December. If I squint hard enough, some of the trees have a yellowish tint. I am feeling deep gratitude for my parent's home to return to as well as a restlessness to find our way back north soon. After visiting so many places, I have a deeper appreciation for the connection I feel to the Bay Area. There is a special kind of magic that happens when you find the places that help you come alive. (If only I could kidnap my family! It is especially fun after our trip to see Lily delight in her doting grandparents--she's especially loyal to her Oma.)
If this trip taught me one thing, it's the truth of a magnet that my friend Heather in Portland has on her refrigerator: Joy Is an Inside Job. This year has been filled with much change--much more change than I would have ordered up in The Year of the Child. But, all that un-rootedness taught me that I have to look inward for joy. It doesn't come other packages, however shiny and bright.
Of course Lily is the best teacher of this truism. I was unsure how well she'd do with a three-month production road trip with new places and new people. But she did swimmingly. She did a lot better than I did, actually. Even though I loved the opportunity to work on this project and see parts of the country I'd never visited before, I was aware of the miles, the small space, and the desperate feeling of never-ending to-do list. As my sister, who has backpacked with me and been the initiator of many of the harder physical feats I've accomplished, likes to say, I'm not a silent sufferer. Lily seemed unaware that any suffering was involved (unless we tore her aware from a new friend she was in the midst of charming).
One of the gifts babies bring is the utter inability to do anything but live fully in the moment. Her joy bubbled through at every new face, every new park, every new truck stop. She didn't seem to mind at all that fully a fourth of her short life was nomadic, spent in a truly itty-bitty-living space.
What she cared about, who she cared about could fit in that itty-bitty-living space. Joy Is an inside job. I wonder at what age I started to forget that?