It's amazing how time erases the bad memories, takes the edges off the horrible moments, the bitter turns. Four years ago my husband and I packed up our five year old and two-turning-three year old and went to New Zealand for seven weeks, to tour around in a camper. A teeny tiny camper.
I have a few really rough memories of this trip. But just a few. There was the night Lucy attacked Adam's face like some kind of feral wombat. There was the street corner in Queenstown when I walked away from my melting-down daughter and truly considered leaving her there. There are minor moments of irritation and exasperation, but largely my memories of that trip are wonderstruck. They are rosey and exuberant and even the bad times seem funny now.
Which is why we signed up to do it again. This time in England. 20 days, a nine year old and a seven year old and a teenier-tinier camper.
We got home from this "vacation" last night and so the bitter turns are fresh and this is what it's like for twenty days in that camper - it's like traveling with terrible roommates.
Like the worst roommates.
Roommates who don't cook. Or carry their own garbage. Roommates who constantly borrow money without paying it back. Roommates who never clean up or when they do - their clean up requires another clean up. Hours spent in campground kitchens trying to dam the rivers they've made on the counters.
Roommates who, when tired and hungry just sit down on the floor of the pub and pout. Roommates who really really don't want to see another castle unless there is a gift shop at the end of it (so they can borrow more money) and then if that gift shop is closed will wail so loudly, flounce so hard - everyone around them will stare, mouths agape, proving definitively that my roommates are the loudest things in England.
And Wales. And Scotland.
While hiking through Wales, behind a waterfall, even - my room mates wanted to talk about their Halloween costumes.
In the middle of a tour through underground tunnels and caverns beneath Nottingham castle - truly one of the most amazing and cool things we did - my roommate wanted to talk about why Voldemort didn't have a nose.
One of my roommates only ate eggs and hamburgers. For twenty straight days.
But my other roommate ate everything - haggis, blood pudding. Mussels fresh from the sea. And both my roommates wrote in their journals and drew amazing pictures of the places we'd been. And they really got into the rugby we watched. They stood transfixed through a tour of the World War II war rooms in Dover and a Viking Village and a turn-of-the-century factory.
They know quite a bit about Richard III.
Everyday they walked at least five miles, sometimes as many as eleven. Chatting the whole time - cheerfully. They talked to strangers and asked questions. They shook hands with people and a lot of the time I was really proud of them.
One of them wants to live in Cardiff. The other in Edinburgh. Both of them want to go to Japan in four years to do it all again.
I can't say I'm ready to do that this morning. But give me some time.