Austin

There’s an obscure law that says “When traveling around the world, if you need a haircut you may go back home”. God knows we all needed haircuts. So we made a big black carbon footprint from Delhi via London to Austin and arrived there, disheveled and jet lagged on a particularly cold November afternoon.

And confused, especially Evan. He asked if it was safe to use the sink water to brush his teeth. And what kind of adaptor he needed to charge his Kindle. Indeed he is a traveler now.

We got our haircuts and we ate at our favorite joints. I managed one walk around Town Lake and up and down the hill at Edward’s Park and a couple of workouts. Jo took off for a birthday party in Baja – a vacation in a vacation in a vacation.

During our travels the kids had some concerns that their friends would forget them. Vivian and Evan effortlessly reinserted themselves into their neighbors’ and friends’ homes and at both schools like they had never left.

We spent our second week at Canyon Lake. I had big plans to do nothing at all. We hung out with family, watched a couple of movies, ate, chilled, and ate some more. Carol made her fried chicken, Nicolle cooked her chili, Greta and her mother had a special extra spicy batch of holiday tamales (that Evan assisted me to devour), and Vivian helped make noodles for grandma’s chicken noodle soup (traditionally made by Jo’s grandma out of an old hen but now a hen that’s been growing old in Carol’s freezer). Evan slept over at his cousin’s, we ate donuts at Sweeties, and I did nothing for a week.

We took stock of our baggage, real and imagined, and made some adjustments. I added a couple of items of clothing to my duffle bag but decided against replacing the chromebook I left on a Thomas Cook flight back in September. Overall, the bag is lighter than before. Poor Vivian is now lugging around four math books. Evan has a new pair of black jeans, finally making up for a pair that was culled from his luggage the first time around, and he is feeling whole again. Jo exchanged her aging iPad for the newest pro and dumped her cheap Chinese noise cancelling headphones for the latest and greatest AirPods. She also replaced her carry-on and tried to replace her main duffel bag but switched back at the last minute. I bought a soccer ball for Evan and a volleyball for Vivian, hoping to pack them deflated, along with a hand pump, but neither survived the Thanksgiving Family Gathering.

Watching Evan and Vivian interact with their friends in Austin hammered home how much they miss them on the road. I continue to electronically stay connected while traveling and have had the luck of traveling with and visiting many friends. They don’t. Vivian understands what she is getting instead and it is a bargain that she is willing to make. Not so with Evan. He misses old fashioned play and horsing around and made up playground games and endless inane Minecraft conservations with nine year old boys. My biggest tweak for Part Two is to be more playful with Evan. I’m going to play more Uno and chopsticks at airports and listen attentively when he reads aloud particularly funny (but not really) passages from his books. And throw a ball or a beanbag or a frisbee whenever possible. And run and play and fall and climb more often.

There is a silver lining to missing something or someone though. For Evan and us the lesson is that friends and our time with them is valuable. And while you can’t go back in time, you know what you want from the future. And that you can always go home for a haircut.

Restarting after a week at Canyon Lake was difficult – almost as hard as starting the first time. But we got it done and left Canyon Lake on a beautiful fall Monday morning and after many hours of travel we arrived at Singapore’s Changi airport on Wednesday night. Like the seasoned crew in the second Guardians of the Galaxy, we strode in slo-mo out of the terminal and into the steamy Singapore night, ready and eager for Part Two.

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