Remembering how we always used to do this.
At least while we’re still intact as a nuclear unit.
As you know, I’ve traveled the world with my wife and two girls for many years. When my first daughter was a baby we backpacked through the Dominican Republic, South America, Central America, and Mexico for a couple of years. It was just like normal travel, only with a baby. As far as travel is concerned, kids are just another piece of luggage at that point. Another piece of luggage that sometimes pukes on you and other passengers on minibuses. However, they travel well and go wherever you take them.Now, my thirteen year old is taking this lifestyle that I’ve shown her and is making it her own. She will be attending Hersey Montessori in Middle-of-nowhere, Ohio for high school. It’s a boarding school. It’s on a farm.
So much for giving her access to the world by moving to the center of global culture in NYC:
I moved my family to NYC on the Fourth of July, 2019 — to the cultural center of the world. My kids go to a premium Montessori / alternative school on the Upper East Side, they hang out in Central Park every school day, they are regulars at the Met, the Museum of Natural History, and the Guggenheim, the zip all over the city exploring things that most other kids only read about in books or watch on a screen, they are set up for more opportunities per square meter than pretty much anywhere else in the world.
This is to say that I kept my end of the bargain.
However, I paid a wager that my oldest daughter doesn’t really place much value in. She isn’t impressed with the bright lights of Manhattan or the almost infinite array of international cuisine in Astoria or going to places almost daily that most people travel across the world to visit. She shrugs at the potential opportunities that come from being at the place where so many creative products are made. As far as she’s concerned, she’d be better off on a farm in ultra-rural Ohio.
I will always remember those family travels. When my second daughter came around my work was a little different. I was writing for big media, the work was sometimes intense, and I needed bases of operation to operate from. This actually fit in well with having a family. We’d make extended stops in places like Kinmen, Peneng, Johor Bahru, Sofia, Rhodes, and Prague. I would travel out from there along the spokes of the wheel and my wife would hold down the fort and concentrate on her Montessori studies.
I feel fortunate that I vlogged often during that time. Initially, it was an exercise to practice with the cameras. I was just seriously getting into filmmaking then and I needed a little training. I figured that if you can film live, uncontrolled scenarios in foreign countries as well as yourself with a camera on fully manual settings with manual focus without a flippy screen or monitor then you can film anything. That logic largely proved to be correct.
The collateral benefit of this was that I often used my wife and kids as subjects, so now I have a record to always look back on that is more in-depth, real, and nostalgic than anything I could have written or photograph. I just made these little first person narrative films about my family traveling in Asia, Oceania, and Europe and essentially memory capsuled a time of our life.
Kids are a good bellwether for the passing of time. The bigger they get the less time you have left … both with them and on this planet.
I’m halfway to Honolulu and my seven-year-old daughter is sitting next to me on the plane. She snuggles next to me and holds onto my hand. I know that in not so long she’s not going to want to hold my hand anymore. Each time it happens I know that it could be the last time.
Maybe that was the last time?
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