I am writing this at 10:40pm from a hotel room in Cranberry, PA. We had already planned on making our way to Ann Arbor to see family for Halloween. It being Audrey’s favorite holiday, I desperately wanted her to be able to be with kids her own age. So, we planned on packing up the car after school on Friday and making the ten plus hour trip in two days. However, last night her school called and said someone had tested positive for COVID. It wasn’t anyone she was in contact with and she would have been able to head to school today. However, with the fact that we wanted to so badly see family and keep peace of mind for all, we decided to leave her out of school and instead, make the trip a day early and with much less time constraint.
So here I am writing to you from a hotel room at 10:47pm in the middle of Pennsylvania. And I am doing so because I wanted to share a realization I just had. For the first two years of our life as a family, we traveled much like we did today, often every week or two. We traveled by car mostly, but at times by plane. We stayed in hotels and airbnbs. We explored museums and parks and all that each city had to offer, freely galavanting about.
As we walked into the hotel room tonight, masked up and touching as little as possible, Audrey so excitedly exclaimed “I wish we could live here for a while”. I reminded her that once upon a time, this was a lot like her life. I have always known she wouldn’t really remember it, but I share it often with her. What I didn’t expect at that moment was the gut punch that recalling that time would bring. In today’s 2020 pandemic world, life as it was three years ago feels like another time. A completely different planet really. I had already felt that way a year ago. Memory is the contortion of moments to feel both so very close and far away and when you have kids you become super aware of that. This feels so much different still.
And I felt myself longing for that old time. I felt my mind and my body want to shift into the ache of what was in comparison to what is. Thankfully though, something else kicked in. I heard my own voice say “don’t lose the sweetness of this moment Sara”. I took a breath and immediately listed in my brain all of the things that felt good about the day. Audrey was able to do school work and entertain herself in the backseat. Consequently Justin and I were able to have deep conversations up front. We played games together, listened to music and talked about our favorite things as a family. We minimized our stops, we masked up and touched as little as possible and we won’t be partaking in the hotel pool in the morning as has been our past strategy for tiring her out before another long car ride. But we ate dinner in bed, snuggled and watched a movie, stayed up late and enjoyed being in the same room together. It’s certainly not the same as it was. And it's not so much about what we did, but that total feeling of freedom is somewhat gone. The constraints of an invisible virus are always looming.
But it also wasn't bad.
I share this because the realization I had was that we often forsake the sweetness of the present moment for the pining of the past. We live in what was, or the memories of what was and miss out on the moments in front of us. Not the future moments, but the ones that are literally taking place before our very eyes, often through missing and wishing. I know that I have done this a lot this year. I have missed Audrey going to school all week long, missed our friends and community, wished for playgrounds where kids can run freely and I can stand and talk to adults unobstructed from a mask. I have certainly missed our home and life as it began at the start of this year, certain hopes and dreams that came with it. And I have wished for answers that aren't yet possible. And tonight I felt myself begin to slide down the rabbit hole of missing a time that no longer exists, but sure feels good reminisce about. And while reminiscing about things is fine, I wonder how often we allow ourselves to get tangled up in the web of distraction that comes from our nostalgia and compromise the present experience?
I think that is something I am going to work on for myself. It is certainly something that has improved in the recent weeks of not putting a camera up all the time to capture moments on social media. But I still think there is more that I can do, or rather not do, in my own mind in order to soak in the sweetness of the moment. This moment, right here, right now.
In reality, it’s all there is.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.