Change is to make or become different. This month is about change. Sophie starts school, leaving behind a kindergarten that has nurtured her and her sister from the day she was born. Soon she’ll go to school every day, and will swim, dance and play after the final bell has rung.
I’m the conductor, piecing together the girls’ activities, both inside and out of the classroom. In fact it feels like I’m constructing a tower of coloured wooden blocks. In five months’ time we’ll knock it all down and build a new tower, shaped to fit our trip.
Pete’s spending a lot of time building the new tower. If we want to enjoy long summer evenings in Scotland there’s dates that must be fixed and ferries that must be booked. We’ll chase the light; sun and warmth is a bonus. It’s exciting to plan, and yet incongruous with the start to the year, filling lunchboxes, sourcing Brownie uniforms, and scanning endless school notices. We have birthday milestones to celebrate, a lucky lifestyle to acknowledge, and for a month or so we will be still.
The world is changing too. The geopolitical landscape is being turned on its head with the determined actions of the new leader of the free world. Britain is grappling with how to Brexit and new leaders with extreme views are emerging in Europe. America is pulling away at the blocks built by Obama like pieces of a Jenga game. What will it look like when it falls?
As travellers we want to embrace other cultures and see the world as different. We like to think we’ll be drifting freely, but we have a footprint on either side or globe with our New Zealand citizenship and dual ties to Britain. We know so little about the plight of those with no nation to call their own. The people displaced by war and terror are little more to our everyday lives than a short news bulletin.
For our family I want this trip to be about people. Not only the time with family and friends that we’ll cherish, but the people that we’ll meet in passing. The shopkeeper in the stone store in the remote Outer Hebrides or the ferry ticket collector on the shores of Lake Garda. I want to understand the plight of the nationless. To appreciate that people are different. To tolerate, embrace and enjoy change in our world.