I’ve reached the half way point of my 4 month trip to France. The first month spent on an adventure around Morocco has made the second month pale in comparison. We’ve basically done nothing, nothing to ohh and awe about via Instagram at least. Certainly nothing I felt compelled to blog about. Most days if we left the house at all it was to walk the short distance to the small market for produce. In fact we transitioned to the French way of shopping, buying only what you need for that day, just to have a reason to walk again the next day. My husband and I were becoming lazy in my mind. Lacking motivation to get out past the remote village in the south of France. It sounds lovely in writing but as an American sitting around is not easy.
Frowned upon by most type A personalities. Some of those very types I see on my Facebook feed driving around Europe with quick photo ops before dashing on to the next social media post. I was a bit envious at first, probably what some are hoping for. I realized a lot of what people post on social media is bragging rights. Feeding their narcassism and basking in the comments of jealousy on their social media feed. I was starting to regret installing internet at the house. I realize I’m blessed to have the opportunity to spend 4 months in Europe and have a house to stay in. Yet being on a tight budget limits what all you can go do. I was bored and starting to feel depressed. Even asking myself why I came here in the first place. I didn’t feel like I was “traveling”.
My family had never vacationed together once our parents divorced and we became adults. I have only taken my own kids on trips seperately. Their seven year age difference has made pleasing everyone impossible. What little travel I’ve done in life has been mainly solo.
Then last week a ray of sunshine appeared. My mother in law Claude arrived from the United States to join us. Technically we were joining her since it is her house we are staying in. Also arriving is my sister in law and her adult son who both live in France. Now we had a houseful and the start of a true family vacation. Claude is everything you imagine in an older French woman. Petite, charming, set in her ways, and a good cook. She doesn’t own a TV or computer, no cell phone or WIFI (until we had it installed). There is a radio in the house but its never on. She entertains herself the old school way. More than that she doesn’t seem to need to be entertained at all.
Also last week came the first real heat wave. Which didn’t motivate us to leave the house except to walk to the river. Claude picked this house mainly because its only a few yards above the river. A short, slightly steep, public path gets you in the water in less than 5 minutes. I could complain about my poor balance or sore knee but when your 80+ year old mother in law beats you down there, you shut up.
The river is about knee deep and slow moving at “our” spot. There are enough tall trees to always offer shade. After playing in the water, and the first to dive in, Claude places her beach chair in the shallow water and reads a book as her feet submerge. The guys started to add to a damn of rocks partially washed away by winters higher water levels. Their efforts will keep the river at its current level for the summer. The first day I just watched as they slowly reverted from being men back into boys. My husbands face lightening and actually smiling easily. By the second day, I could not resist getting in on the fun and into the water. As I sat in a shallow spot, water to my waist, I began moving rocks and building up a small beach. In a moment of goofiness I started tossing handfuls of small rocks into the air, much to the amusment of my family, and announced “I feel like a little kid!” Bingo
Isn’t that the intention of summer vacation? I grew up in the age of no internet. There was no Facebook to consider posting the moment. You got lost in the moment when I was a kid. It was only about you, your friends, and what adventures we could create. The closest thing to social media we had was the 1st day of school when the teacher would have each student introduce themselves by sharing something exciting they did over the summer vacation. Just like facebook it allowed some to brag and others to feel inadequate. From this moment on I left my phone on the river bank, if not in the house. I want to get lost in the moment with no consideration for who will know about it later.
Embracing Summer is to give ourselves permission to act like a kid again. Permission without words given to me by a woman in her 80s.