My eyes linger over stunning photographs of blue and emerald water, reaching out from banks of white. In a couple of the frames, a man stands just at the shore, his back to the camera’s lens. He’s looking out onto a horizon dotted with vibrant colors of kites soaring, sailing high in the wind.
Breath comes in short gasps, especially at this late hour of the night. There is a weight of three kilos on my chest, and I shift awkwardly amongst bean-bag pillows, propping myself up on an already painful shoulder, so I can see the screen of my aging Lenovo better.
Beside me, on a messy bed, my three-year-old son smiles in his sleep.
The weight I feel is my second child, incubating the final month inside me. This last stretch of time will be the hardest, and the heaviest. But I’ve imagined, many times over, the first moment of finally seeing and holding my daughter—and that makes the wait less painful.
Scanning photographs my husband has sent of his day’s work as a kitesurf tour operator out on remote islands, I remember our carefree days of travel, when I could go at a moment’s notice and journey with him. Back then—four years ago—we had no other obligations. No children tying us down; no diapers to pack or bottles to wash. Just two people; two backpacks; two passports—the world.
Now we are four.
I’ve made the decision to have this second child, and meanwhile, to let my husband carry on as he has before the children came. His is a world of constant change and movement, and I would do everything to keep it that way. What I fear most, though, is the stagnation that conforming to “typical” family life may render. Of becoming attached to things, and houses, and places.
Yet some days, there’s a simple wanting of my own painting studio, with a hundred brushes and three easels; a full refrigerator and the break of constant relocation. I want to furnish the kids rooms with toys, and books—big hardback ones that are too heavy to lug around airports. They would have their own shelves and boxes for all the extras…
Is there somewhere in the middle one can find, a balance between being blown with the wind, and finding steady footing? Is there a spot you reach in life, when you’ve figured how to get on with the journey, while keeping rooted in the essentials?
I feel as if I’m still trying to find it. The longing I have is not for a physical home, because I have found that all over the globe with my boys, when we pitched our tents or mattress beds wherever the wind took us. And it all felt quite right.
I ponder how far we have come, the miles we have made together—it’s all worked out so far, despite the physical hardships, the sacrifices, and the endless not knowing.
Baby turns inside me, her fists pounding as if wanting to dig a way out. A sensation tightens inside me, hardening for nearly a minute, and then slowly releasing—Braxton Hicks. I soothe her from the outside, my hand rubbing against my own layer of skin, taut and stretched beyond normal. The inner fistfight doesn’t stop, but I’ve learned it hardly will, and that this is a good thing.
Closing my eyes, and rolling heavily onto my other hip, I shuffle the pillow underneath a leg lock, trying to find some semblance of comfort. It comes, finally, with the stillness of the night and another barrage of thoughts.
We were travelers, and still are. The journey has taken a different path, but it’s kept me walking steadily forward.
The moon winks through the open window, spraying its soft light ever so gently. In the silence, I drift and prepare again to dream.