|A train station, but I did not take a picture of the teens and tweens.|
As much as I love to travel, I hate to leave my family behind. Naturally, I prefer to travel with them. But for work, this is not usually possible. I’m okay for a while; caught up in all the excitement and newness of a place. But then, I’m usually caught offguard -- reminded of my family without warning, which makes me immediately homesick for them. It can be overwhelming, depending on the reminder.
I was standing at a train station in Brussels Noord when I was suddenly bombarded with thoughts of my 11-year-old daughter back home. It was Saturday morning and the train platform was crowded with young people waiting for a train to Antwerp (or maybe beyond that to Amsterdam). Group of 6, 10, 20 friends gathered around, chatting in French, Flemish and German. They jostled against each other laughing and sharing ipods and Cokes as we all waited for the train. Some were young, perhaps my daughter’s age, traveling in a group with a chaperone. Others were a few years older; teenagers out to have fun on a Saturday, all of Europe at their disposal.
That’s when I thought of Isabelle and wondered how different her life would be if she were growing up in Europe instead of home in America where parents drive their children to the mall or friends’ houses. American children are not quite so independent, especially in suburban areas. In fact, they are very dependent for transportation and entertainment.
I watched the young people at the train station and wished she had such freedom, cultures, and sights available to her. I wished she could simply board a train and see the world.
A few nights later at a team-building event for work, I was overwhelmed with missing my son.
We went to a place called Mmmmh. Here we divided into teams and then worked with a chef to create appetizers, dinner and dessert for the group. As in any kitchen, conversation was lively and I got to know all the participants that were there for the training I was in Brussels to facilitate. They came from England, Germany, China and Belgium. They were so friendly and shared their thoughts on work and culture. I learned their hobbies and had fun cooking with them, tasting the dishes we were tasked with making. They included me in all their enthusiastic discussions despite the fact that I was old enough to be their mother. And that’s when it hit me: they were all the same age as my son. I missed him.
Missing my husband was continuous. Every time I saw a couple eating at a restaurant or posing for a picture, I wished he were with me. The laughter I heard from groups reminded me of my mother. I wanted her there, too.
I love to travel, but I hate to leave. I wish I could pack my family in my suitcase and bring them along with me. Instead, I am reminded of them every time I turn around and agree with Dorothy: “There’s no place like home.”