We had two full days together, plus a good portion of the two travel days, and although we had to consider Frankie's sleep time, she was remarkably good-natured and flexible in her schedule. We managed to see a few Bordeaux sights, do some shopping (Daughter has promised a blogpost on this), ate some Thai food (as much as these new ex-pats love the Italian food in Rome, they occasionally crave a hit of something different, and found much more of that on offer here in Bordeaux), shopped and ate oysters and crepes at the market, even navigated a few emotional discussions together with the occasional tear but no storms.
The kind of visit you wish could have been longer, although you wouldn't have wanted to mess with its easy, just slightly messy perfection. And I have to admit that knowing how soon they'd be leaving made it easy to give all while they were here. I'll also admit to tiring more quickly than I once did, and just between you and me, I had a nap as soon as we got back from the airport today. The quiet felt, yes, empty but also rather luxurious as we drank our tea, especially once we got the reassuring text that they'd landed safely. Just the two of us to arrange dinner for, and I think we'll just walk up the road for Steak-Frites or whatever the evening formule might be.... We'll probably talk a bit about our good fortune, and Paul may well comment again, as he did on our walk home through the park this afternoon, "if someone had told us five years ago that our kids would be living in Rome one day and come to visit us in a house we rent in Bordeaux, we'd never have believed it." I might counter that five years ago, given a modicum of imagination, it wouldn't really have sounded that unlikely. But swirl those clock hands back, say, 20, 30, or 40 years ago, then Oh yeah, we might have found that preposterous. And perhaps upsetting, to think our grandchildren might grow up far away, our children live across the world from us. I'm still not entirely reconciled to the concept, truth be told, but this weekend visit reassured me considerably that closeness can be maintained across the distance. (I do realize how precious and privileged and even trite, I guess, all this sounds in light of so many desperate refugees and migrants. But I can't see that denying or ignoring my own reality makes me more compassionate to others'. Instead, using mine as a starting point, I can more clearly imagine the magnified pain of familial separation as a spur to donate and act appropriately.)
Now how to close after all that mucky sentiment? I could ask what distances you have to overcome in your family, and how difficult or easy you've found that. Any advice to offer or frustrations to share? We were lucky, this trip, that the kids caught a cheap flight out for a long weekend, and we'll have another week together next month. Often, the high price of travel means a long visit in close quarters, with certain attendant risks of