My husband and I went on a road trip a few weekends ago. We had to take the long way to the city which entails a series of long, winding roads and jack-knife turns up and down mountains.
I have a healthy fear of heights and car accidents. Every time we leave in the car without the kids, even if it’s just to the grocery store, I review our “In case Dad and I Die” protocol with them all. They are so accustomed to my morbid thinking that after the latest review, they shout out as we drive away, “Ok great, and don’t forget two sticks of butter!”
As my husband drove during the third hour of the trip, feeling relaxed and listening to his eleventh podcast on hypertrophy or productivity or both, I leaned to the middle console, avoiding looking out the passenger side window and beyond. I was cliff side. With no scientific evidence at all, and guided by only what I can describe as a psychological placebo, my lean to the middle meant I was saving us from falling to our death.
With every curve, I began to feel more and more nauseated. We climbed to heights where my ears popped, our car at inclines that would rival the world’s highest roller coasters. In the beginning, I enjoyed the adventure. The challenge. The sights. Then what was supposed to be a five hour car ride turned into an eight hour never ending tilt-a-whirl with the exciting climax of our brakes deciding to stop functioning on our final descent.
My husband glided the car gracefully to the side of the road (which technically wasn’t an actual shoulder but the side of the road). To finish the last leg of our destination, we needed to wait while the brakes cooled. It was in this in-between phase of our road trip that I reflected on 2022.
This forced stop felt familiar. This overuse of the brake going up and down. Stopping and starting. Slowing down quickly at a curve only to have gravity naturally accelerate us downhill with the brakes finally giving up, and then bracing for a crash that actually never came. Instead, by the grace of God, my husband, my kids, my friends, I had glided to the side and waited for things to cool down.
This was 2022.
If you look at the post immediately before this one, it was written at the very beginning of 2022 with every intention to have the “luxury” of writing. My attempt at returning to blogging failed again because luxury comes with a cost.
The luxury of sitting in a car with no brakes was the knowledge that we had the money to pay to change the brakes which we eventually did before coming home (and to pay for the automobile mishaps on the return trip like the misunderstood fuel leak and the flat tire).
Luxury came in the form of ease of paying for flights we did not know we needed to pay for as one by one our children left home earlier than we had thought.
Luxury was found in making modern wooden furniture that my husband designed using a tree that had fallen on our property which damaged the unfinished guest house.
Luxury was buying books to fill the shelves that we had made for our new indoor office space that was the all-purpose storage room. It is a simple office but it feels luxurious to have an indoor space to hang out and watch movies when there are weeks of storms and torrential downpour.
Luxury was getting internet at home after five years of living without it so my husband could stay home and work. (A future blog post.) And getting internet at Casa Morpho – our outdoor learning centre – was a huge luxury where we could message parents and also look up answers to questions about the size of Brazil or stream world cup games for the kids (Yes, we are a cool place to learn).
Luxury was removing all the wasp nests on the third floor so that the kids could enjoy alone time there.
Luxury was juxtaposed against emotional moments of self-doubt and public scrutiny as we ate out at restaurants during these stressful times when we needed to get home and go to bed, to rest and to regenerate for the challenges of the next morning which turned out to span the next few months.
Luxury was building a home gym in front of the house; a simple squat rack with chin-up bar that the dogs still pee on occasionally.
Luxury was having good friends/dog trainers stay at our house for six weeks so we could visit our children in Canada this summer and have peace of mind.
Luxury is going on our first family trip in six years. All seven of us went to Mexico City in May and enjoyed taquerias, book stores, elotes, museums, churros and conchas, coffee shops, mercaditos, chapulines, and brujerias.
Luxury is visiting Canada in November to enjoy the last fall colours and visiting the kids again.
Luxury is being able to fly all our children here in time for Christmas and booking our favourite rental house on the other side of the country with views of sunsets on the Pacific ocean.
2022 had me leaning into the middle more than ever; trusting my husband as he kept calm and carried on; getting dizzy on sharp turns while holding on tight to what I know for sure; traversing steep extremes at speeds that make the brakes fail altogether. Yet through it all, I felt this contradicting, underlying feeling of ease. A deep knowing that I took responsibility for every twist and turn – I wasn’t just a helpless passenger. I, too, took the driver’s seat and steered my way through the mountains, choosing to take the more difficult yet more scenic route. The luxury of survival.
Thank you for the driving lessons 2022.