Feeling nostalgic I pulled a photo album from my book shelf today. It's wrapped in a tacky underwater themed fabric and contains the photos from the most exotic (and storied) vacation I've ever taken.
When we were married in 1997 we figured we'd give ourselves a year to settle into the routine of this new life. When the year was up we found a house and decided the time was right to start a family only to find out it wasn't. We struggled. We cried. We sought treatments. We cashed in stock options to finance in vitro. We did the shots. We did the procedures. We cried over the failure. And then we gave up.
A month later my husband was laid off. Luckily he found a new job before his severance package had even kicked in - which meant a nice mini-windfall. He cashed in the balance of his stock options lest we loose them per the severance agreement.
It'd been an awful year - a horrible struggle with careers and failed attempts for a pregnancy. We felt defeated. Life wasn't going to be what we planned and we were going to have to reframe our thinking. We were going to have to be one of those couples without kids that go on nice trips and have things like boats and impractical cars. At least it took the edge off the blow to imagine such glamour not that we'd ever quite live up to it.
We had talked about taking a vacation to just get away from it all. We had a few ideas. A few plans. Nothing concrete. We had some dreams steeped in books from the travel agent. Bruce looked at these pamphlets. He looked at his scratch sheet with his notes on our finances. He dove over to the mall.
He called me from the travel agent's desk. "I know what I want to get you for your birthday" he said, or at least something like that. He didn't want to book it without knowing it's what I really wanted. And oh, yes, I really wanted it. He got all the information and tentative reservations. We'd discuss the details that night.
We were going to Tahiti.
We booked our trip in May and traveled in October. It was a week long, island hopping trip. We stayed one night in Papeete, the main city of Tahiti. Then we puddle jumped over to Bora Bora for a three night stay, followed by a three night stint in Moorea, Tahiti's sister island. Our last day gave us enough time to wander through Papeete before leaving Polynesia behind.
A year later, unbeknownst to us, we'd conceive our son. He was the surprise child we had given up hope of ever meeting. His sister was a much easier journey. She arrived, nicely according to plan, just over two years after her brother did. Life, as it turned out, really was what we had set our initial course for, yet not at all where we thought we'd be when we stood on the tropical French islands in 2000.
As I flipped through the memories committed to film this afternoon, I decided to look for a picture I could share here. I was thinking of something that just exuded the warm, breezey air heavy with the smell of coconut and suntan oils that filled our days. Something to make me forget about the cold, blustery days of this week. Instead I found a photo that reminded me of the journey I just shared with you - something bigger than the trip to the Islands itself.
I never noticed it before, but today I realize this image is incredibly symbolic of where we were in our lives on the day we took it. Here we stood at the entrance of a path in a place we did not know. It was a path clearly traveled before into a realm of beauty and perhaps, being wooded, occasional fear and/or insecurity. Yet it wasn't a road paved and easy. Navigating down this trail would surely be bumpy at times.
And here we are today, a few miles down the symbolic road. Unexpectedly, yet joyously, taking two young souls along for the ride. We're admiring the indescribable beauty of parenthood while we're struggling to stay afloat in our own insecurities and fears of failing the very people we're molding. It's not an easy road, yet it is a worthy one. Today I'm gazing at this photo and I'm glad that verdant island gave me the sneak peak.
So what about you - when you look at this photo, where does the path take you?