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Forever (And the Eternal City)

To complete our Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow and Forever posts we are all contributing to this entry – our closing (but certainly not final) thoughts on this seven-month sabbatical across much of Europe. And as a backdrop, photos from the Eternal City – Rome, Italy. Rome was our last stop and from where we departed for home. A fitting end if I do say so.

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As for Forever, Mr. N will kick us off….

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The trip while progressing seemed nearly endless, but now that it’s over it feels like it was only a few days. It’s hard to be back, but I’ve flown right back in. It’s good to see friends and family again. FaceTime and texting just aren’t the same. The familiarity is great. Even with all these good things though, I still lie awake at night and think about how it just doesn’t feel right.  Endless traveling is hard to replicate with school and tight schedules.  Keeping busy helps, but isn’t the same. Pictures are hard to look at. They give me a sense of melancholy. However, I think all-in-all, I’ve adjusted. I know this paragraph is a little bit disorganized and free flowing; however, it accurately represents my feelings. And Forever for me, means – memories. Well, those are my thoughts. Mr. N.

Forever in Miss A’s words…

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Forever. I keep coming back to this word because it is important. It is. What it means to me is that it will be remembered until the last words I speak. Not only that, but my memories will always stay in Europe as well as with all the places, things and even people I met. It stays in my mind and lost in time.

~Miss A

ChefDad weighs in….

This has been a trip of a lifetime, and if nothing else evolves from it, the memories will last forever.  That by itself would make it worth the effort.

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But something will evolve, something has evolved. From May 15 or so until July 3, we didn’t stay in the same room for more than four nights in a row. It was a period of spectacular highlights, but also real adversity that forced us to be better and stronger as a family. By the time we finally woke up on July 4, in our Umbria home, we were both exhilarated and exhausted and, maybe for the first time, ready to go home. The best analogy I can come up with is the way a baseball season feels when your team has wrapped up the division title, but still has to play a few more games (or this year about 17-Go Cubs!). We were full of adrenaline-fueled euphoria, combined with a healthy dose of “please, let’s just not get hurt.” A fender bender, and a face plant aside, we stayed healthy, and by the end of the month, I’m not sure if we were still ready to go home. I think more than anything, we were ready for the playoffs. And if our short stops in Amalfi and Rome won us the pennant, it’s now time for the World Series. Life in front of us feels that way somehow, like we’ve walked onto a bigger stage. This sabbatical trip was a gift, we always recognized it as such. But the gift that it revealed in front of us can last Forever.

And my Forever thoughts…

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Nothing can prepare you for the logistical, emotional and physical elements of an adventure like this; and nothing can compare. Words feel inadequate. It was an opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to hit pause and take time for ourselves, our family and relish in all that we have created, as well as all the world has to offer beyond our familiar borders and surroundings.

It was eye-opening, challenging, amazing and positively life changing. I’m still stunned that we are home. It was mere weeks ago we were walking cobbled streets of Italy. While I always have post-vacation musings, these are different. My thoughts and feelings are deeper, confusing even. I will sometimes find myself lost in particular memories and almost forget that I’m home; and sometimes waves of emotion will hit me in the most routine of moments, such as tucking the kids into their familiar beds. As I close their doors, I’ll have a flash of doing the same thing, but in another room, a different home – especially our Czestochowa home – and it seems both tangible and unreal. Familiar things while comforting are at the same time disconcerting. The shock of re-entry I suppose.

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But that’s where my Forever comes in…I’ll forever be thankful for these memories, these moments I can lose myself to an adventure I lived. The photos, stories, impressions and imprints, they are ours forever. And I am comforted knowing pieces of us will also forever remain in the places we walked, laughed, loved, cried, made friends and discovered. I am forever grateful, forever awed and forever changed.

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Thank you for taking this journey with us, for your support, love, comments and friendship. You too are a part of our story forever. Thank you.

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ChefDad will be back soon with the final installment of our Power Rankings (67 cities is no easy feat to narrow down!). Until then, we’ll close our Forever post with a few shots from our last day in the Eternal City. To say it was an emotional and thoughtful day is an understatement. It is never easy to come to an end, even when you know it also means new beginnings. Another bittersweet piece of life. Somehow Rome is perfect for such moments.

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17 thoughts on “Forever (And the Eternal City)

  1. ChgoJohn says:

    What a wonderful post and there’s no city more fitting to end your sabbatical than Rome. Hard to believe that the thoughts expressed are those of the Sous Chefs. So very thoughtful. I am very glad that you took the time to write these posts as you went along. As vivid as the memories are today, they will fade over time. Your posts, however, will always be here and serve to remind you of this most special time in your family’s life. Having visited a number of the cities you toured, they certainly brought back some wonderful memories for me. Thank you for that and for taking us along for the ride. Welcome home!

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  2. Eva Taylor says:

    Wow, I am impressed by the mature introspection from both kids. When I was eight, right after our first holiday in Europe (about a month), I too felt melancholy and even homesick. Home really did not feel like home for a few months for me. I know what you mean about getting lost in your thoughts and forgetting that you’re home. Europe always feels like home, every time we travel there. Sorry Mike, I just don’t get the baseball analogy! Your 67 city experience is so awesome and I feel honoured that you allowed us on your journey. Welcome home! When will you start planning your next getaway?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Debra says:

    67 cities! That’s impressive and certainly makes it easy to understand that you’d have a variety of emotions upon returning home. You have 67 cities’ worth of memories to sort, and you’ll be doing that forever! Very clearly you’re now citizens of the world, a true advantage for your children. I hope you’ll continue to share those memories even as you continue to acclimate to life in the United States.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eha says:

    Oh Lord: now you have made me laugh and cry all at once! The city in Europe I know best: my fave restaurant on the Piazza Navona clearly shown . . . and the Spanish Steps past the once very noisy Trinita dei Monti next to my favourite hotel in the world!! Via Condotti: every afternoon’s walk . . . Rome better shown than ever before – thank you! NO melancholy Mr N!! Yes, you will ALWAYS remember, Miss A! ChefDad: we are happy for your memories but selfishly more for ours . . . it was a wonderful journey . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cecilia Mary Gunther says:

    I didn’t realise you went to Amalfi too! I lived there for a while – Rufello is my favourite place in the world! Did you go up there? We must talk soon – whenever you are ready. The big room comes free in October! But no hurry.. c

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