August 21, 2009

Roots Don't Grow at Sea

Maia woke in tears this morning.
For the past few days we've been visiting her school friend at a snug little cabin that her family has been coming to for over 50-years.
It's the sort of place you imagine when you think about a family cabin: Cupboards full of mismatched dishes for serving up meals of fresh fish and crab to as many as needed. A dock that catches the evening sun, where generations of kids learned to fish and many a Happy Hour has been passed. A cabinet filled with games for rainy days. And rooms that have sounded with the laughter of countless cousins, aunts, grandparents and friends.

I understand Maia's tears. She is beginning to realize we are giving up our roots.

I recall feeling the same sadness on our last trip. We were in Mexico and had been invited to visit a Mexican family we had taken sailing. When we arrived in their home we were enveloped into their extended family. The rooms rang out with stories and laughter from cousins, brothers and sisters. Everyone lived near by and they gathered together for every occasion and no occasion.

Late one night I recall telling our host that I was envious of his family, their closeness, how complete they seemed just by being together. He told me he envied our freedom - our ability to take off on every adventure, our independence, "You can't have what you have if you have what we have. You can either stay put or pass by."

We kept choosing the adventure. Opting to pass through the fringes of other peoples lives, admire and envy their roots, then keep going. When we had Maia I imagined this as the best childhood I could give her - one that fills her imagination and offers up the possibility of carving a unique path. Over time she'll understand that we can tie ourselves to the people we love in other ways - that even if we don't all live in the same village, or gather in the same place we can still stay connected.
That will be her lesson to learn though. All I can do for today is kiss away her tears and tell her I understand what she is missing.

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