Monday, June 8, 2009

Special Opportunities

Travelling as a family for 2 months together provides opportunities or change in subtle ways that are often not predictable. First, there is the gradual opening of Adrian's eating habits. For those of you that know my picky eater, you know that I was a bit worried about how he was going to fill those hollow legs of him while starting the trip disliking rice and anything with flavour and spice. He truly has expanded that repertoir. In Burma, he decided that he finally was starting to like the feeling of spicy chilis on his tongue, and the subsequent tears it brings. He and Richard regularly now have chili eating competetitions. Richard wins, but he also wins the hiccuping contests that come with eating chilis for him. A surprising favourite food of Adrian's has been "buff momos", as in Tibetan steamed dumplings filled with spicy minced water buffalo meat. Many restaurants in Asia also have spaghetti or macaroni on the menu, but he's found these can be hit or miss, and sometimes are scarier to him than the Tibetan standards. He threatens to return to his limited eating when he returns home, but I'm not sure that it's possible to close the food door once it's opened. At least that's what I'm hoping!

As for my relationship with Adrian, I can't believe how much on the cusp of adolescence this boy of mine is. Some days he seems like an adult, or at least as much so as Richard and I on vacation! We have yet to meet any other children on vacation with their parents, so he hangs out exclusively with adults, except for occasional interactions with local children. Because of his height, the locals invariably think he's older than he is, and he's had his share of teen age girls fawning and falling in love with him who are probably 14 or even 18 years old. They don't seem to believe us when we tell them he's only 11. He even got to join us in a club one night in Kathmandu when we decided to check out a live band. He sat there sipping his Fanta, but otherwise was one of the gang, despite his annoyance at the man at the next table blowing his cigarette smoke on him.

But then the next minute he is my little innocent boy. On many of our long treks, he walks hand in hand with either me or Richard, something he quit doing in Toronto many years ago. (I even have a few photos to prove it!) As soon as we see people or get into town, he's independent again, but he really likes the physical connection. And it seems natural, considering that in the last 6 weeks, we have spent only minutes apart from each other, maybe only 3 hours in total, and that includes sleeping. Every night so far we've all shared one room, so he falls asleep with us and wakes up to us, and really seems happy with this. We laugh, we talk, and over and over he asks me to tell him stories about himself. What his birth was like, how old he was when he learned to skate, how I taught him to ride a bike, a review of all his life moments. This trip is more than just what we're seeing in the countries we're visiting.

Of course, this intense togetherness is also changing my relationship with Richard, and in a good way. As any of you know who know me, I'm a fiercely independent person who really likes doing things for herself. And yet, here in Asia, I'm learning to play the role of "wife". Learning to hang back and let Richard take care of me, while I stand with Adrian. When we arrive at a new town and the touts are hussling us to get us into their taxis, I simply smile and say my husband is taking care of this decision, and they leave us alone. It's really quite freeing! So while it's a role I'm developing for the outside world, it's also a way of helping me stop being so dominant. So bossy and pushy. During my meditation retreat, I realized what a poor listener I was. It's hard to be both a good listener and pushy at the same time. Richard doesn't always like having to step up and take charge when the situation is difficult, but actually he's pretty good at it. He's more engaged in life, and so we're more engaged with each other too. It's a good cycle. We've been having great conversations about our 14 years together, actually getting around to touching on some of those tough conversations that we never have time for in Toronto. And through all the travelling, we're laughing tons and really enjoying each other's company. I'll speak for myself, and say that we really haven't fought or disagreed or really been ugly with each other for 6 weeks straight. Maybe we should do travelling full time! We don't seem to get tired of each other, even when we're 24/7.

I feel really blessed. This trip has been more than I hoped for. I'm sad that we weren't able to make it to Tibet, but other than this regret which only leaves something open for the future, I'm happy and content and think this is my best travel experience yet. In the past, I've mostly travelled alone, but I love having someone around me all the time to share my experiences. I love my family. Asia has been the mind-blowing opportunity for Adrian I had hoped it would be, and travelling independently has really hooked Richard in a way that I think is paving the way for our future years together. Enough waxing poetically, it's time to kiss this cyber cafe goodnight and head back to the hotel, before we lose power again and this blog fades into the ether.

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