My 45th birthday began with a sniffle and a gust of wind.
We have been traveling on Koh Lanta, an island in the south of Thailand, for nearly a week. Always keeping it real on this blog - there have been highs and lows.
Let’s start with the highs. Something happens to you as a parent when all of your kids are FINALLY able to swim. It’s like you did your job (shout out to the Talmud). I have been utterly surprised by the depth of satisfaction I have had observing their triumphs as independent swimmers. It's been so cool watching two of the kids move from fear to (what I would say now is) attentive bravery, working towards something on their own schedule, and deciding which inner voices to listen to. I also learned that forcing swimming just doesn't work - just needed some consistency, a pool, and allowing them to grow in their own ways.
This was in full bloom as we embarked on our first snorkelling trip – a family of five snorkelling together for the first time – pointing out the coral and the brightly speckled fish to each other. Each of us explorers, independent, and yet our own school of fish. It was truly magical.
We went on two pretty magical boat trips – one speedboat and one longtail boat. One trip to Koh Rok and Koh Haa, the other to a sleepy island called Koh Jum.
That otherworldly water color, a curious pair of monitor lizards, catching air in the speedboat, looking out at the vast expanse of ocean from the longtail, swimming on deserted beaches.
Then we hired a driver to take us to the many beaches down the coast. We wound through the jungly curves in the back of his pickup, spotted monkeys in the trees, watched the coastline ebb and flow, and blasted the kids’ playlist that we have heard everyday throughout this journey on repeat (please, someone, send Obie more music so we can listen to something new).
And the truth of this trip is that sometimes you can be in the most magical of places but somehow the rhythm is just unsettled. Despite all this gorgeousness, each time we take a trip away from our base we lose our practiced rhythm of travel (schooling, feeling comfortable in a place, etc.), and there can be a whole lot of grumpiness and uncertainty about what the days will bring. We have indeed seen a few days of meltdowns, reticence to meet new people and extend oneself beyond the safety of our family, and wholesale invention of obstacles to have something to fight against. And I suppose that just comes with the territory.
So back to me! I’m now a day past 45. I have had a cold for a couple of days. A storm edged in, with sporadic rains and fierce winds. It forced me to do a whole lot of nothing. There were moments of buoyancy – reading and eating cheesecake on the beach, watching the unseasonably rough waves, even spotting a green snake slither through the sand – time to myself, time with family, a date with Chris. And still, the same questions remain about my next chapter. Not even a third of the way through and yet I long for clarity. I want to know how this part of the story ends. I watch this impatience for what it is. There are times I feel like I am making progress and it’s all going according to plan, without a plan. And other days when it feels like I have stalled, like I have concocted ‘progress’ to tell myself a story that simply isn’t there. And there are even moments of wondering if I am truly living this gift of a trip to its fullest, appreciating its wonders, treating each day as a blessing. My birthday was the stew of it all – snot, majesty, pause, doubt, appreciation, wind just enough and a bit too much.