Our trip to Czechia, Austria,Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Germany now for the second year has been pushed back a year. It’s been in the planning stages since 2019.
Grit your teeth, set your jaw, take deep breath’s and carry on ...
Three years ago, as we traveled through sunny Tuscany enjoying wine, cheese, the wonders of history and art, our little travel group entertained the idea of where should we travel next summer (enter dark foreboding music). We had been many places together over the last few years: Spain, the south of France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Monaco and we had decided to venture north of the alps into Central Europe. It was to be a completely new experience for all of us and excitement ensued. Summer 2020, we were headed to Germany, Lichtenstein and other Germanic areas of wonder, castles, and beer. You, the reader knows how this ended in 2020 .... and now in 2021. It appears that the travel portion of my Teacher in Transition retirement plans has hit a roadblock of pandemic proportions.
It’s important that these comments are kept in perspective; we all view these change of plans as minor, first world problems in light of the real suffering taking place here and abroad due to Covid. Our traveling companions and I know full well that this inconvenience is just that and not to be compared to real world dilemmas faced by millions. We have all been touched by and experienced loss of loved ones due to this scourge.
It also is worth noting that Kim and I along with our friends who comprise this hardy group of explorers are not by any standard of measurement... wealthy. We are most of us teachers, retired or otherwise, who plan meticulously to cut costs; use our group to reduce expenses and seek out simple pleasures that soak up the vibrant culture and history of the places we visit. We travel “on the cheap” ... not excessively so, but teacher planning helps tremendously in this regard. We also plan to leave little or no inheritance to help satiate our wanderlust... sorry sons. There are no nights at The Ritz, but there are plenty nights enjoying Sangria and watching artisans perform Flamenco dancing.
Now that the explanations are out of the way, we still find ourselves in a state of desperate disappointment as very little can substitute for traveling abroad. Last year when Covid was raging with no vaccine in site, cabin fever was running high. To combat this, my wife and I went camping and hiking in the hills of state parks in the Llano Estacado. It was wonderful and challenging and outside the walls of our humble abode. This summer we will not be as restrained as we both received our vaccinations in January and February and we will always carry with us a formidable yet stylish array of masks and germ-ex. We are firmly entrenched in the world of science and social responsibility. Postponed or not, my wife and I NEED to travel ... yes, need; one gets accustomed to hitting the open road and seeing, tasting, drinking, learning about places we’ve never been. My eldest son was/IS a Marine, “once a Marine, always a Marine,” and often reminds us of the USMC motto: ADAPT, IMPROVISE, OVERCOME when dealing with the ups and downs of life ... “and here be one!” ( said with a pirates growl )
Methinks there’s a lesson to be learned here; if one is truly a person who seeks to be spontaneous and free spirited, then it goes against that grain to lament so seriously the falling through of plans. Adapt, improvise and have fun, I can’t pretend to be of Marine stock... the thought of a ten mile run could trigger a heart attack, is going to our take on this situation. We’ll do and plan as we do when traveling to more exotic environs: on the cheap, focus on the important stuff, celebrate the new and enjoy each other’s company. The unplanned lurks in the shadows of all of our lives and can be a real buzz kill, but we can choose how we react to the unplanned. There is not one way of doing things, a lesson I’ve learned over time and have attempted to document in my writing. We sat down and began listing more domestic destinations that would be equally as exciting if we carry our open minds with us.
It doesn’t pay to be so totally invested in one way of doing things or insistent on any status quo. The flexibility of our existence is a concept to be learned and understood in all things. All too often in the past year, I’ve learned of the impermanence of everything and coping with that is the key to all aspects of our lives. Every day is a gift and it’s not always a pair of socks. Me, my wife and oldest son started our family in bleak poverty, but life was anything but dull; it was perhaps the best time in our lives. Everything can and will change ... sometimes it’s a real gut punch, but when your head clears ... life is still there to be enjoyed. We can find adventure everywhere, we can find something new everywhere, there is always something new on the menu you’ve never tried; take what you have and make it extraordinary. Nothing turns out like you think it will ...roll with it. You might come across the experience of your life... outside the four walls is outside ... make the day, trip, hobby ... outstanding.
This life lesson is one for all and it is reached at different times in our paths. Some souls never learn it; mores the pity because being chained to absolutes is not how we were made to live. So, though far from the Alps, this summer will be great and an experience of our lives... that’s how we will approach it. Hey, Europe is great, but they don’t have a Grand Canyon ... do they? Carpe diem my friends!
Levihan family hcs
When they first met their baby, Levi was very scared to hold him. He's a children's book illustrator, so he knows how to be soft with his hands, and how to transmit safety through his fingertips, but, still, he finds that holding Udo for long periods of time is so difficult because he's just so afraid he might break.
That all changes when he sees the way Hanji holds the baby. From then on he was no longer afraid of his kid's sensibility, because a couple can't just have TWO PEOPLE THAT ARE UNABLE TO HOLD A CHILD.
Even before he was born and they adopted him, Levi was already dedicating all of his works to Udo. Every single one of his books from the past six years start with a page that says nothing but
To my strength; my Hanji and to my life; my Udo.
Hanji wanted to name him after one of their plants. Levi was PISSED 😭😭
"For the millionth time we're not naming our son 'abromeitiella brevifolia.'"
They adopted a cat to sharpen their care-taker skills. Levi hated it at first and thought the cat was messy and loud, but, very slowly, they started to open up to each other, and now Levi's lap is his favorite spot when they're watching tv. His name ranges from Sawney, to Bean, and to "little demon" when he kicks something.
Now THIS is the softest one: when Udo first arrived, he and Hanji just did not seem to click. He wanted Levi's arms at all times and cried whenever they were apart. But, one day, a few months after adopting Udo, Levi had an emergency at work and had to run to his office in the city.
"You'll be ok, won't you? I won't be long," he was breathing heavily through his nose, trying to calm his nerves because apparently somebody accidently spilt ink on all the new copies of his book.
"I will, of course, take your time!"
Levi nodded and opened the front door, running out with a muffled "I'll be back soon!"
Hanji watched him drive off with a smile. They didn't want to admit it, but something bubbled in their chest at the prospect of being alone with the baby for once. They weren't even crying! Did their 'Levi-dar' stop working, perhaps? Hanji smiled to themselves, closing the door and thinking that this would be the start of a new lif-
Or maybe not.
They tried everything. Udo didn't want food, or sleep, or change his diapers, nothing. He just absolutely needed his father because clearly, Hanji wasn't good enough.
"What's wrong, hm?" They whispered softly through the sound of crying, their arms holding Udo very gently and rocking him up and down slowly, but his mood didn't soften. "Is it me?"
They looked at the clock on the wall. Levi obviously had more work than he expected. They went to the couch and sat down, Udo still sniffling in their arms. They turned on the TV in hopes that the noise would soothe him a little bit. Surprisingly, it did.
A documentary about fish, or something. Hanji can't remember very well, because at that moment they were too busy looking down at Udo's face. He wasn't crying, wasn't pouting, was just listening intently to the TV with his eyes closed. Hanji's heart raced. They changed the channel and put on a kid's one, thinking it'd be more interesting for him, but Udo just started crying again.
"Ah...." They sighed, putting back on the documentary. "So you're a little nerd like me, huh?"
Levi raced home, expecting the worst. His mind was filled to the brim with images of Hanji and Udo and terrible disasters, because this was the first time they were alone together and he didn't know what to think. When he opened the front door, the house was silent.
Oh no. They both died.
He didn't even bother to close the door or take off his shoes, because he heard something and it was the TV, and he recognized the sound of one of Hanji's favorite documentaries, one he hated because of how much he was forced to watch it.
Oh no. Died watching fucking fish documentary.
His heart was racing and he could feel tears in the corners of his eyes. He went straight to the living room, and almost passed out. They were there.
Hanji scoffed, faking anger "Of course I am. Have you got no faith in me, Ackerman?"
Levi sighed in relief. They were as goofy as ever, that was good too. He walked to the couch, and sat down.
"Hm, maybe I don't."
Hanji just smiled, and watched Levi caress Udo's face with his pinky. The baby stirred, but didn't wake. Levi's eyes went back to Hanji's, and he smiled wider.
"Leviiii...!! He likes me..!!"
He scoffed, and caressed their hair. "Of course he does." He kissed their temple, and adjusted himself on the couch. He'd seriously have to work on Udo's taste in entertainment, though. His hand held Hanji's shoulder and he squeezed.
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