Jul 1, 2017

Trips.

Have you ever gone on a trip? This trip I am on at this very minute I have been anticipating and planning for for 10 months. It often felt like it would never come. Now it is here, going by way too fast, causing me distress because I am not keeping up with blogs about what I am experiencing. Each day more and more views and observations crowd into my mind and push the ones from yesterday back further. I hate the "getting behind" feeling. My eighteen days here are almost gone and I have so many blogs I want to write it is overwhelming. So overwhelming I am doing nothing but starting blogs and not finishing them as I realize how much my words will never do justice to what I have seen and done. I want to write about every little detail and view but it is not realistic at this point and I am sad about that. The first impressions are not fresh anymore.

I want to tell you about:
  • Jet lag.
  • Nights that never get dark.
  • Going to church and not understanding a word.
  • Endless hours using public transportation; buses, trains, trams, ferries.
  • The thrill I felt when we happened to be in Estonia on two big holidays; Victory Day and Midsummer's Eve.
  • When I happened upon a small town celebrating these holidays and watched them carrying Estonian Flags, listened to them sing songs in Estonian and observed that the food they served at their town celebration was bread and pea soup (nary a hot dog or hamburger in sight.)
  • How often people buy flowers here for occasions and carry them home on the buses wrapped in newspaper.
  • The refreshing lack of fast food and drive thru's here.
  • The richness of the traditions and history.
  • Standing on the edge of a spot where a meteorite fell thousands of years ago. 
  • Happening upon a beautiful field of red poppies on the island of Saaremaa.
  • Renting one of the three rental cars available in the town of Kuresarre.
  • Searching for the Panga Cliffs
  • Hearing a grand son call you grandma, lots of times.
  • Having a grand daughter that observes asks as many questions as you do.
  • Hearing a grand son singing to himself in the other room.
  • Seeing a castle moat.
  • Asking an employee where the bathroom was in a store and the sadness when I realized they did not understand me and I did not understand them.
  • Buying a handmade hat from a sweet old lady in Finland.
  • Remembering you are using military time, the metric system, euros, and kroons.
  • Staring at the Baltic Sea.
  • Not recognizing any brands around me as I ride thru a town.
  • Buying mayonnaise in a tube that looks like toothpaste.
  • Walking, walking, walking until you are sure you cannot walk anymore but you have to because you are telling your kids they have to.
  • The gratitude I feel for my son and his wife who entertained us and let us hang out for almost 13 days. They are truly saints.
  • Seeing things I never thought I would see.
  • The joy of seeing my children experience things for the first time.


My girls running down a path that ended up taking us nowhere.
Going on a trip is a lot of work. The logistics can be overwhelming. The brain power that goes into figuring out train, bus, tram, and ferry schedules and stops. Keeping track of the proper currency. Awkwardly carrying your possessions in backpacks for miles. Discovering there was something you did not account for and there is nothing you can do about it now. Doing it all while you are sleeping differently, eating differently, seeing and hearing different languages, seeing unfamiliar things, smelling unfamiliar smells. Having your phone on airplane mode most of the time. Keeping your teenagers from falling apart when you want to fall apart yourself. There are times I have not managed any of this well. There are a few times I have thought to myself I cannot do this anymore. And those are the times I post beautiful pictures on Facebook so you think things are going well.

I finally had a small moment of quiet alone time yesterday. I was just sitting back behind our Mormon temple here in Helsinki thinking about how overwhelming, all I had done and continue to do to make sure this trip goes as well as it can, felt.

I found myself sheepishly realizing that I do not plan as fastidiously for my real life near the way I plan for a trip and I should. I should put as much work into researching and figuring out my future as I do these trips. I have googled every detail of this trip. I have read blogs. I have read reviews. I have spent hours on MapQuest writing down routes and bus stops. Researching tourist options. Making sure I know all I can. If you know where you are going and what you are doing you are so much more efficient, so much more productive, and things are less stressful. Yes, I understand that life refuses to be perfectly planned. It will never happen perfectly no matter what I do. I know you need to be open to change and the possibilities it can bring you. But I have let my life meander for too long and this realization has given me some determination. The new focused Jennifer will come back to America with me. She will make a plan for her life just like she is going on a trip because we all know we are all here on am epic journey. We also all know that if you have a map you get where you are going so much easier and if you get stuck along the way, at least you know where you are.