For Molly, on her fifth birthday.
We decided to sell our campervan by the end of the month. We were sure selling was a right decision: the van was old, it was falling apart and it was costing us a fortune to repair it each time something broke. Which happened often. Besides, we felt that we needed to move on: we needed to grow up, be more serious, more responsible and stable.
We chose France as a destination for our last trip. It was safe, familiar and civilised and that seemed appropriate. Knowing that was our last time in the campervan made the trip far less enjoyable, though. There was a lot of pressure to get the best out of our holiday and that unavoidably left us feeling unhappy with each passing day. We rarely said it out loud, but both of us silently feared that the adventurous, spontaneous travelers in us were being replaced by boring tourists. At the start of the week, we’d take turns convincing each other how important it was not to set our expectations too high. “We’re not as young as we used to be,” “We need to live a calmer and healthier life,” “We should just take it easy, relax and enjoy ourselves”. We were trying hard to make ourselves believe that sitting on a sunny terrace of a touristy café can be as fulfilling as getting drunk with locals in dark bars. We just had to find a way to enjoy doing nothing.
I felt the change in us in the second week of our holiday. By then we completely embraced our slower pace of travel. We started sleeping in comfortable campsites instead of camping wild, we were enjoying getting up early feeling refreshed instead of hung-over, we spent time sitting in front of the van reading or just watching people walk past. The atmosphere between us changed as well: we spent more time focused on each other, instead of trying to find people to hang out with.
It was a Tuesday in April and we had been driving down a long, straight country road for a while. We were both lost in thought, completely silent, listening to the music on the radio muffled by the loud noise of our campervan engine. I was taking in the calming view of the green meadows and tall trees while feeling the warmth of the sun on my bare feet on the dashboard. There was nothing in the distance apart from more road and more meadows and more trees. I was at peace and content.
Suddenly I felt a strange sensation, unlike anything I ever felt before. Was it a pop? Or a tickle? I wasn’t able to define it but I immediately knew what it was. It was you. You moved. I placed my hand on my belly and looked over at your Dad: his eyes were focused on the road and he was quietly singing along to the music on the radio, getting all the lyrics wrong. Feeling me watching him, he looked back at me and smiled.
I wanted to tell him that I felt you move, that now finally everything’s starting to make sense, but I stopped myself as I was about to open my mouth. I decided to wait until we pulled over. I wanted you just to myself for a bit first.
„Isn’t this nice?“ said your Dad with a happy grin on his face.
„Very nice“, I thought.
I still wasn’t sure what we were doing, but at that moment I understood why we were doing it. You finally started feeling real.