…wasn’t the perfect waters of Lake Annecy, or the views from the top of the mountain. It wasn’t the evening strolls along the canals or the endless dishes of tartiflette. It wasn’t revisiting places I love in Paris, or spending an afternoon in the Musée D’Orsay. It wasn’t the beautiful doors, or the delicious pastries. It wasn’t the adventure or the excitement or the grandness of international travel.It was James and Henry and the ocean that separated us from life and work. It was the 6-hour time difference that meant that James actually went on vacation, something that never happens, and the lack of of cell service that meant I didn’t waste time on Instagram or texting. It was the total separation we had with anything other than our family. I realize that in theory this could be accomplished with domestic travel. But in reality, it doesn’t happen. Work calls creep in, incidents happen that need attention. Daily distractions are packed along with the rest of our baggage.But in France, it was just us three, investing in memories and time together. I know that Henry won’t remember any of it, that this trip didn’t enrich his life, broaden his worldview, expose him meaningfully to the language, or otherwise form him into a more world-conscience individual. But I will remember the look on his face when he watched TV for the first time in the plane. I will remember how his hands looked clutching a croissant and how he had flaky crumbs in is stroller the entire trip. I will remember how his face lit up when he was thrown over the Luxembourg gardens, over the teal waters of Lake Annecy, over the vista stretching out from Mount Semnoz. I will remember how groggy and inclined to snuggle he was when he woke up and climbed in bed with us in our little Parisian Airbnb, and how he loved standing out on the balcony. I will remember all the memories we made when we were focused only on each other, not on our to-do lists or the tantalizing world of social media. I will remember his first steps, his exploding vocabulary, his eager waving at every closed-off Parisian. I will remember how we had James to ourselves for over a week with no work, and the unheard of joy that brings to our family.
This week James and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. FIVE years of doing life together, that followed over four years of dating. This trip was in part a way to celebrate that anniversary, and the fact that both of us turn 30 at the end of this summer. Going into a new decade together and getting closer to having already done a decade together feels momentous. I’ve learned so much about love, about myself, about life through this marriage. I’ll spare you a lengthy post about it (this year- since I forced one on you in years one, two, three, and four), but sometimes I think back to my biggest doubts before getting married. I didn’t doubt his character, my love for him, or our ability to make marriage work. But I doubted the long-term satisfaction possible with one person. What if we got tired of each other in twenty years, or we ran out of things to talk about, or we just got bored? These are the doubts that should plague you if you believe that marriage is forever. They are good and healthy emotions that come from the realization of commitment.
And sometimes we do run out of things to talk about. Sometimes days are long and tired and we find each other again at the end of the day and just want to zone out in front of the TV and go to bed. Sometimes we get annoyed at each other or bored. But time away from daily life, time together devoted to exploration and play, time spent without the stress and distractions of work reminds me that there is no one I would ever choose over James. It reminds me how fun it is to be together, how well our family works, and how excited I am for the years that stretch out in front of us. We talked about these years while in France, the ones that are past and the ones that stretch before us. We came home more than ever excited to be a family, because we really got to focus on being one while there.
And that, that was the best part.