Planes, Trains & Automobiles

[gallery columns="1"] Last week was a whirlwind trip to Knokke, Belgium to connect with two of our dearest friends who grew up there.  They have lived in LA for more than ten years now, and have been back to Belgium numerous times since we've known them, and every time they go we say, "We have to go with you sometime!"  A few weeks ago they decided to go for an extended visit and despite all kinds of very rational reasons why now was not the best time for us to join them, we went anyway.  We had 26 hours of travel time going and 21 hours coming home, all for five nights and four days in a tiny seaside town, and let me just tell you:  it was totally worth it.

My husband and I have moved around quite a bit over the past five years and so have these friends, yet no matter our geography, they have been a constant presence in our lives.  To finally be in their hometown with them, to meet their friends and their family and understand more profoundly than ever how difficult their move to the United States must have been was an extraordinary gift.  The beauty of this trip is still sinking into my pores, and from this point forward I will look at these dear friends of mine with different eyes, with a vision that connects more deeply into my heart than it ever has.  It is hard to express how much this trip meant to the four of us, but maybe sometimes that is the point - that it doesn't need to be conveyed in words or pictures...that it simply exists in our memories and will always be there when we need to be reminded of how wonderful life can be.

There are times when life compels us to be responsible, rational and organized, when we have to monitor our calendars, emails and to do lists.  Sometimes we have to say no to fun invitations and ideas in order to take care of whatever our day to day life needs and this is OK.  But there are also times when a conscious choice needs to be made for one very fundamental reason - because we love someone.  Sometimes all it takes is a willingness to step away from our routines and comfort zones, to be jet lagged and exhausted with the knowledge that there will be no time for recovery once we make it back home.  Our main activities on this trip weren't much different from what we do here at home, so in a sense it wasn't even especially exotic or adventurous.  But it was filled with extraordinary people, delicious food, good beer and endless laughter.  It was, quite simply, one of the best trips I've ever had, and I am so grateful to be - as I always am after any trip - slightly more full inside, slightly changed, more at peace, and more in love with my topsy turvy, sometimes wild and crazy, tiny, sparkling life.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide