An ordinary work-at-home day for me. Took a break to check personal email and spotted this in the home account:
For the rest of the day I could not reach Tony. I could not even tell if he had seen the message. The hours dragged on and eventually he came home. Anna Grace knew something was up when Tony and I huddled in the office with the doors closed (he hadn’t seen the message!), but we waited (im)patiently for Jack to arrive home from baseball practice, and while gathered around the dinner table posed the question to the children,
The three months that passed between deciding to move to Europe and actually boarding the plane passed in such an unbelievable blur that I am glad I recorded most of it. Our favorite phrase since moving here, when experiencing something new or novel, has been “A year ago we didn’t know we would be…” Last night, over a very American “celebratory” dinner of burgers on the grill, we took stock of the “what we didn’t know we would be doing,” especially the differences in school life for the children. We had traveled to Europe several times, but the only house and routine the children had known was in DC.
For Anna Grace, it’s been a year of long-desired freedom and independence. While the zip code of our US home often ranks among the nation’s wealthiest and most-educated, and we have a top-ranked school system and practically non-existent crime, it’s a little short on common sense in some regards. Middle school students are not permitted to walk to or from school, because they may have to cross a busy 25 mph street that has lights and crosswalks, and this was deemed unsafe. Here, she, and, even elementary students not only cross busy streets, but board trams and buses to get to and from school (and sometimes even hail a taxi). One night she and I were conversing about this very topic.
“Here I know my way home on public, and I know to tell the taxi driver, ‘(House Address), bitte,’ and when I get home you’ll pay.”
I probably just gave the administrators of our US middle school heart palpitations with that comment.
For Jack, social media means that he is never far away from the friends he’s known since elementary school. They commiserate about their IB workloads and draft their online fantasy baseball teams seamlessly. New friends have been embraced by the social network of a 21st century teenager, as well. All is good.
We also talked about our travels over the last year. As a family, we’ve accumulated 25,900 kilometers across five countries (Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, and Czech Republic.) This includes our flights to Vienna.
Tony has traveled the most independently, for work. 44,300 kilometers across two continents and five countries. (South Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, Bulgaria, and France).
Jack earns the #2 position, logging 27,600 kilometers across two continents and six countries (Austria, Hungary, Germany, Great Britain, and the US).
Anna Grace and I round out the bottom. She has logged 3,300 kilometers across three countries mostly for sports tournaments (Austria, Hungary, and Germany); and I, just 3,900 kilometers across France and Bulgaria for fun. While we’ll probably not top the boys in kilometers traveled, though, we hope to make some gains on the mom-daughter road trip we have hatched for the summer, stretching from here to Spain and crossing ten countries.
The grand total, approximately 105,000 kilometers, give or take a few. That’s about 2.5 times around the earth and almost one-third of the way to the moon. And travels to Dubai, Bonn, Basel, Zurich, Paris, Frankfurt, and of course Munich and Budapest are in the spring queue. We may reach the moon by the end of the year.
Clayton Theodore, for those wondering, has traveled 1,800 kilometers, not counting his flight to Vienna. Most recently, he wandered Italy with us. And, because we take pride in being the definitive source of information on just how dog-friendly the places we travel are…