Well. It's been a while since I was here and I'm so glad to be back on the blog homestead. During my little escape from writing, I was walking all over Europe. Ok, maybe just London & Paris. It was a wonderful time with my husband and I'm so thankful for the opportunity we had to travel abroad. And for the chance to sing & dance all over another continent.
Walking through the Saturday morning market on Portobello Road? Start singing 'Portobello Road' from Bedknobs & Broomsticks.
Sitting on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral? Cue 'Feed the Birds' from Mary Poppins.
Walking around Disneyland Paris realizing they totally ignore Beauty & the Beast? That calls for a chorus of 'Belle' in her honor - 'Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour!' But really, how can they ignore that movie? It's a classic. And it's based in FRANCE!
And I most definitely did all of the above.
Today is such a somber day in our nation's history and the timing of our trip ended up reminding me of my love and appreciation for America over and over again. Don't get me wrong. I had a great time. We saw history, the architecture, the food, and Prince George. Well, all but one of those - I'll let you decide which. But it just wasn't home.
I think so often we take our freedoms and the way of life they afford for granted. And if I'm honest, there are probably very few days when I do think about it. Some big and small events from our travels truly turned my mind to joy thinking about how blessed we truly are to be Americans. Maybe you might call some things on this list superficial, but in each of these moments, I thought back on my country & loved it more than ever.
1) Cold sodas. Refrigerated vending machines are worth their weight in gold.
2) Air conditioning. That goes below 80 degrees. Because that's the point.
3) The border crossing experience we had returning to the US puts England & France to shame. As Andy & I started to whine about how long the lines for customs were taking, we thought about it for 2.4 seconds and instead chose to be thankful for the thorough evaluations the agents were doing. In this day in age, I'm happy to stand in line longer to ensure the safety of my neighbors. But for real - they fingerprint & photographed every non-resident. Sure some would argue privacy vs safety. But the week of September 11th, I felt reassured seeing these guys in action.
4) Cars larger than thimbles & the freedom to avoid public transportation. I am thankful for cities that have subways and that I don't have to live in one. And that I can drive my own car. When I want. Without folding myself in half to get in.
5) How young our country really is. I've been to most every major city on the East Coast and seen all the historic sites from Colonial Williamsburg to Boston Harbor. These places seemed so old until I saw the Tower of London. And Notre Dame. And Versailles. And I am so thankful for the strides our country has made in our young existence to offer freedom for all of us. Not that our history is white-washed in perfection. But the things we have accomplished. I can't even put into words how thankful I am for our founders. Our soldiers. Our heroes. Because our freedom really wasn't free.
Oh, how I love this land. And seeing the first glimpse of Cape Cod & stepping off that Air France flight on American soil? By far the best part of the whole trip.
Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.