• Lara Flanagan

If only time could stand still in Tuscany

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

For some reason it has hit me like a cup of cold sick as to how quickly time is flying.  I know the time factor gets worse as we get older, but right now, it seems to be zipping along at super-sonic speed and I feel like screaming to the heavens, “Slow down you bastard.”  Just for a little while anyway.  It would be nice if time could stand still for a moment.  Standing still in Tuscany would suit me just fine.  Maybe then I could have time to find out why Italian Gelato is so good that it makes me think of crack cocaine.

Facebook posted a photo from a year ago.  It was the day we went shopping with Tine to get our new backpacks.  Their packs are pristine and Archie and Rissie look all small and sparkly.   At that stage we still had 4 months to go until our departure. Remembering how quickly that 4 months flew made me start to hyperventilate a little.   I have been a tad stressed ever since and I wish I could take a few deep breaths and calm the fuck down.

That photo with the reminder that time is a relentless marching machine made me realise a few things.   These things are in no particular order:

I am not remotely prepared for South East Asia

I have done nothing for SE Asia.  Nothing.  SE Asia was always in the never never.  It was at the end of the trip.  It was the final continent.  It was close to home and for some reason I had it in my head that it was going to be easy, easy, easy.  Well someone find a great big mullet and slap me over the head with it.  Now it is stressing me out more than any other part of my trip.  I have told my brother we will go somewhere near Koh Samui for the last month as he will be diving there.  Every time I try to work out booking the overnight train, the ferry and the bus or whatever else is involved I feel an overwhelming compulsion to start scratching as if I have body lice.  

Internal flights are not really an option for me  due to the cost so every time I look at the details for the overland bus crossing into Cambodia, dealing with the border police, ignoring when someone is asking you for a bribe, working out when to eat and thinking of my bus hating daughter on an 8 hour cross country journey I want to open a very big bottle of vodka and start to giggle nervously.  Then I put it back in the too hard basket. Then I remember we are going to South East Asia next month and I don’t have enough time for a ‘too hard’ basket and I start hyperventilating again.  

The kids are getting used to me scratching, giggling nervously and doing a lot of deep breathing.  Actually they might not have even noticed anything different.   Since my scratching, giggling and deep breathing have started I have found places to stay for our first month in Thailand and our month in Cambodia so I think I will leave it at that for a while until my equilibrium returns.

I hate School.

I hate school.  I think I would rather do the border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia for the rest of my life than ever contemplate home-schooling.  I actually think I would go seriously insane if I had to home-school.  That is why I chose Distance Education because it is not home-schooling but for some reason, this year feels dangerously close to home-schooling and it is doing my fucking head in.  I have always had a great respect for teachers and what they do and this year has also reinforced in me how important the whole element of school is for my kids. I have never been a parent who wants to be overly involved in my kids school-life or homework.  

Sure, I will go to parent’s nights, speech nights, assemblies and buy raffle tickets but I think the whole purpose of school is to create independent little creatures who can think and do for themselves.   I don’t see how your kids can be independent if they can’t do their own homework.  If Archie and Rissie can’t do something and it is a genuine ‘can’t’ as in they are not capable, (rather than going through a lazy turd phase) then I would prefer their teacher knows that they can’t do something and they need to be taught it.  I am sure their teachers aren’t interested in marking my work. I have never seen how it achieves anything by me doing their homework.  Distance Education is increasingly difficult as in I need to supervise, but I don’t want to teach.  Also I need to be patient. Very, very patient. Sometimes I have to be so patient that it hurts me eyeballs.

I will be home soon.

With time flying so quickly it is hard not to think of home.   I know that I will be home before I know it and will look back on this 12 months as a completely amazing adventure with all of its ups and downs.  Questions I am getting asked all the time now are ‘Am I going to come home?’, ‘Do I want to come home?’ and ‘How will I settle down when I get home?”   It is a resounding yes to the coming home and wanting to come home.  I miss Kevin and Rosie so much it hurts.  I love my cottage.  I love my town.  Home is where the heart is, it is as simple as that.   In terms of settling down I have no bloody idea how I will feel.  I still don’t know how this journey is going to end.  I might get stuck on the Thai/Cambodia border and be a raving fucking lunatic by the time I get home after spending 2 months trying to work out who I was meant to be bribing to get my Cambodian Visa.

I do know that a priority for me will be organising a car as it is simply not feasible to live in the country without one.   I also know that a major thing this trip has given me is the desire to see more of Australia.  So late at night when I am not stressing about what lies ahead  in terms of continents I am finding myself on gumtree searching for little secondhand campervans.   I genuinely have no idea what possesses me sometimes.   I think Australia might be calling.

I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

Despite the stresses and challenges that I talk about, this time thing has also made me realise how lucky I am to be in the middle of this extraordinary experience.  We were driving in the hills of Tuscany last week, in countryside so beautiful that it made me lose my words when  Rissie said to me, “be careful Momma, in 1.5km there will be a deer  crossing.”  It made me laugh until I almost wet my pants.  From here on in whenever I see one of those signs I will be on the lookout for the exact spot where the obedient deer will be crossing.  In my mind there is a few of them huddled around the deer crossing spot having old deer chin wag.

This last 8 months Archie, Rissie and I have lived in each other’s pockets and survived with very little in terms of material possessions.  Sometimes my craving for solitude is so strong that I have to get a really big gelato to quench it. On returning to Tenterfield I am sure my cottage will feel like a castle and I won’t know what to do with all of the space I will have at my disposal.  Funnily enough I don’t crave ‘things’.  I have all that I need in that I have my laptop, my camera, my phone and I always have a book.   It is an amazing thing to come to the realisation that you don’t need anything.  You sure as hell might want something, but you have everything that you need.

We went into Florence last week and I relished the idea of feeling like a ‘local’.  I knew where to go from the Train Station, I knew the way to the bookstore and I knew where I wanted to eat.   It was pouring down with rain and I felt like someone had poured a litre of water into my boots but I was grinning like someone deranged.  Our little bookstore sells 2nd hand English books and I could not wait to get a bargain.  When I realised there was not much to choose from for the kids that week I decided to splurge and told them to pick a new book each.  The joy on their faces was palpable.  We sat on the floor in a bookstore in Florence for about an hour whilst Archie and Rissie debated the merits of various books until a choice was finally made.  

Afterwards we went to lunch in a little place in a back alley near the Arno.  All of us had socks that were dripping wet and we were cold.  I ordered a glass of wine, contemplated the menu and watched the kids as they checked out their books.  Their faces were flushed and Archie’s glasses were fogging up from the warmth inside the trattoria.  A thought flashed across my head that I had never been happier.   I truly am the luckiest girl in the world.

I wish time would slow down.  I want to stand still for a little while.   It is not that I am not looking forward to what is ahead, because I am. For all my bullshit I can’t wait for the adventure of SE Asia – I have been craving a Green Papaya Salad for a very long time.   It will also be a joy to arrive home as I adore my home.  So it is not that. It is just that I want a little more time to savour and cherish these moments I have so they are forever etched on my brain in indelible ink.

#SingleMumTravel #Journey #FunnyTravelStories #Motherhood #Humour #Italy #Worrying #Travel #Travelingwithkids #Hope

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