Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My father's sabbatical year in Bonn and Brussels changed all of our lives irrevocably. Monica studied at the Sorbonne and Paris and stayed to marry a Frenchman and redefine herself. Karen returned to Canada to finish high school and university but ultimately moved to Italy and then France. I stayed closest to home, but have had an incurable addiction to travel, which only increases the more I indulge myself. Eric tells me we will have no money to travel while in Ecuador, but I am convinced that we will explore the country from top to bottom. And I will be the tour guide to any family or friends who come to visit while we are there.

Tara plans to leave NYU for the year and try different volunteer jobs and perhaps take a class or two at the university in Quito. She has never been to Ecuador and I am not sure how interested she is in the country. She wants to have a unique and interesting experience. I believe she wants to find a new direction in her studies and needs time to find her way.

Maya has expressed anxiety about leaving her friends and all that is familiar to her. Baltimore is all she knows, having moved here before she turned 2. She loves her life and does not want to change anything. I believe that as long as Eric and I are enthusiastic about our time there, she will join us in our excitement. I have no doubt she will make friends and find a place for herself in Quito. I hope that when she is older she will feel positively about her time in Ecuador, and not feel too displaced when she returns.

For my sisters and I, our time in Rome as children had the most significant impact; we never quite recovered from our move to Edmonton. I remember climbing down the steps of the plane to the tarmac at Edmonton International Airport that frigid January day wearing a coral coloured gabardine raincoat. It was minus 40 degrees, which is the same at Celsius and Fahrenheit, and it was shocking! It was difficult to breathe, and all exposed skin surfaces began to freeze immediately. The prairies spread out endlessly toward the horizon. I remember wondering why in the world would anyone choose to live in such an unbearable place. We spent alot of our itme inside that winter, when the sun rose late in the morning and set in the midfternoon. I was amazed when neighbourhood children played hockey on the street outside our house. The roads gathered ice and were over a foot thick and did not melt until the spring. Over the years I have come to love the snow and winter sports and when we visit my parents I drag the whole family down the river valley in our ski pants and layers and layers of protection, and we slide down the hills and slosh through the snow and make snow angels and have snowballfights and climb up slippery slopes. My parents wait for our return, wondering what we could possibly be doing for so many hours in the snow.

We were strangers in a strange land and never quite fit in. My mother was so disappointed that we did not embrace this wonderful place with endless oppoortunities. We are all remebered as very different young women. I look forward to my high school reunion in 2011. I wonder if I will recognize anyone.

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