To those who've chosen to stick it out, I hope what I have to say is a morsel of goodness for your soul.
For our first trip to Italy, my friend Laura bought me a special travel journal.
I love the understated elegance of the simple compass/North Star icon. First day of that first trip, I logged my excitement with a sparse two words: We're off. Days Two and Three were also memorialized. Then...nothing. NOTHING! I stopped writing altogether.
That first trip was magical. But I don't remember many details. Seeing the David for the first time? That is seared into my memory. But specifics about reactions, responses, and experiences - mundane and monumental - are lost because I didn't write them down.
Fast forward nine years.
We - my journal and I - return to the land of my del Grosso ancestors. But this time, yes, this time every day is accounted for. Not as an exercise in legalism; but as an offering of thanksgiving.
September 16: We're off! (This appears to be my standard first day post, though I did add details about unruly preschoolers and their parents whose super power is the ability to tune out their progeny's whining and temper tantrums.)
September 18: Ponte Vecchio: colorful, bustling, BEAUTIFUL! Lit a candle at St. Michael's and prayed for healing for Perry and Joe.
September 20: Day Three of being 59! It's time to cook at a countryside villa...a white sanctuary with red doors and 360 degree views so stunningly perfect, they have the appearance of paintings. Leaving Florence tomorrow. MUST COME BACK!
September 24: Back to Michelangelo's church. An embrace of beauty. Reading Joseph's story in Genesis. He interpreted Pharoah's dream: 7 years of plenty, 7 years of famine...a famine so severe it would erase any memory of the good years. O, the importance of memory which is fueled and fed by daily praise & thanksgiving which brings God near -- though He is always present -- as He inhabits the praise of His people.
September 30: A spectacular fireworks display tonight, as if the city of Sorrento wanted to give us a special send-off. Ix-nay on the mousse-nay.
The Sunday after our return home, Doug and I met our traveling companions, Steve and Ellen, for coffee. They gave us a flash drive containing the 2,000+ photos they had taken of the trip. You know, just in case we had missed capturing something worth remembering with our measly 1,000 photos! As we were getting ready to leave, Ellen expressed a single regret about the trip: She hadn't written anything down. Oh, she has an iPhone and camera full of photos, but she's already forgotten the details of those twelve days., like my entry on September 30: Ix-nay on the mousse-nay. It means nothing to you, but for Steve, Ellen, Doug and I, it brings back hilarious memories of our final meal.
There were some nights, after a long day of sight-seeing (I know, wah!), that I just wanted to fall asleep reading my Kindle, but, instead, I made myself journal. And I'm so glad I did. Otherwise I would have forgotten the full accounting of each place. Not just what I saw, but what made that moment, my moment, instead of another vacationer's interpretation. And I would have forgotten the people: our tour guides including Nicholas, Carlo, Mario, Emilio; the toothy beggar who prayed with me outside Michelangelo's church in Rome; and the elegant hotel supervisor, Antonio, whose wife's ancestors, like my mother's, hail from the Azore Islands.
If the moments of an amazing trip can escape my memory, just imagine what common day gems I'm forgetting. Maybe it's time I treat my life with the same appreciation I treat a vacation and remember it in writing.