Occasionally, during the first moments of awakeness when my ears begin to open to the day, but my eyes are still shut, and my consciousness has not yet completely kicked into gear, I have the lovely realization that I don’t know where I am. Oh my goodness - I don’t know where I am! Game on. Now, here’s the trick – realization triggers consciousness, and consciousness wins this game every time, so there are only a few tiny seconds of play. At that magical moment of realization, without letting the outside world in too quickly, I quickly start to run through the possibilities. Okay, I’m on the roof, but where is the roof? Am I beside the roaring river in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania? On the sandy shore, Isle of Skye, near Talisker? Could I be in the green meadow surrounded by Beaufort cows high in the French Alps? Maybe I’m beside that sparkling wee beach on the island of Krk in Croatia…? My mind dashes through the possibilities, racing time and inevitable awareness, and all too quickly it is over. The sounds of my surroundings filter through the canvas walls of my enclosure and give away the mystery. I peek out from under the warmth of the thick down duvet and the chill air makes my breath visible as I reach up to the net above my head and pull my clothes down and underneath the covers. I yank on my jeans and merino-wool hoodie before zipping open the door of the tent that is perched on the roof of the van, and I carefully descend the ladder to the ground ready to begin the day.
I didn’t expect to find myself living a bicontinental life in my forties and into my fifties, traveling through fifteen or twenty countries per year, striving to keep every sort of balance that is thrown off by this unconventional choice; family, financial and career to name a few of the more considerable balancing acts required.
I have a job, and a mortgage. I have been married, and raised a family. I have lost myself in the dreams of others, and I have found myself staring squarely into an empty-nest, and an empty house with many steps behind me and many steps ahead.
And now, over a decade later, having logged more than 70 Atlantic flight crossings, I see no reason to settle down. I have two homes, one in the Netherlands, and one on Canada’s west coast, and I split my time between the two continents, packing my bags and flying across the Atlantic 5-7 times per year. The man with whom I share this life, Arthur, is an orchestra conductor, and we travel throughout Europe to as many of his gigs as logic allows in our electric-blue VW van with safari-tent bolted firmly to the roof. We camp our way city to city where, upon arrival, I must check into a hotel room, don dressy clothing and behave myself for a week before climbing back into the van and heading off to find the small roads between the big roads. Sometimes I have the luxury of planning in an extra week here and there just to go exploring. The goal – let life find me.