On January 10th of this year, Ariel and I went on a little sidequest to picturesque New Brunswick, New Jersey.
We left as a traveling party of two (well three if you count Sammy), but our little fellowship gained a new member.
Oddly enough, our four days in hospital had more in common with our past adventuring than you might think. Our preparations/packing meant we used a lot of the same items we take on our other trips. Backpacks, granola bars, travel kits and other items we’ve taken with us to the ends of the earth. Living in a hospital for four days means scrounging for food, single serving coffee bags and peanut butter packages. Running on fumes after days of minimal sleep on miserably uncomfortable sleeping surfaces. The exhilaration of an entirely new experience with no real frame of reference. Being (really) nervous about not knowing exactly what to expect. A complete and total break from the usual routine.
In short, despite being less than 10 miles from our beds, in a lot of ways, during our time in the hospital I felt further from home than I did in New Zealand, Alaska or Tahiti. Even stranger, we could see my old apartment from our hospital room. Ariel and I actually met just a few blocks away from where our son was born. And yet it felt like we were on another planet.
Even though there is literally nothing that can prepare you for the shock to the system that is childbirth (it was insane for me, let alone for Ariel who actually, you know, GAVE BIRTH), my experiences on the road and in strange places definitely helped.
For example, at one point, when it looked like everything would go smoothly and we’d have the whole show wrapped up by the afternoon of our check in (we were wrong), I was joking that our hike to the slopes of Mount Doom would still hold the record as the most difficult thing we’d ever done (it didn’t). And while it was a completely different experience, our bizarre 53 hour experience traveling home from New Zealand, where we landed nine hours before we took off, was practice for the out-of-body experience of being up for nearly 40 hours straight. When we had to change rooms three times in four nights, it sucked, but staying in a different place nearly every night on our road trips (in my case for 50+ days on one trip) was good training for this. And sleeping in strange places like an airport floor in Rome gave me a frame of reference for the frankly awful sleeping conditions in the hospital (the floor would have actually been an improvement over one contraption I slept in).
In a very strange way, I really operated the way I have on my various adventures. This is yet another reason why spending money on travel is so superior to spending on “permanent” possessions. You never know when you’ll use a past experience as a frame of reference.
So while it will probably be a little while before Jacob Ezra goes anywhere particularly interesting, we are already planning a family trip with him to Israel towards the end of this year. I haven’t written much about Israel on this blog, but it was the first place I ever went (also as a baby) outside of America. It’s our homeland. The Israeli desert, the Negev, is one of the most incredible places on Earth (including a few of my favorite spots on the planet). And it is also the site of one of my craziest adventures, a story I’ll be writing about in the near future.
Since we came home with Jacob, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. I started this blog over a year ago knowing that this day was approaching. And next week will be the one year anniversary of our incredible trip to New Zealand. For now, this blog will mostly be about reflecting on the past, sharing some of my favorite stories about some of the zaniest situations I’ve gotten myself into.
In many ways, becoming a father is the culmination of this blog – and of all of my adventures. But it won’t be the end. We’re just going to have a new partner to bring with us, share these stories with, and create new stories together.
And most importantly, we’ll have a new person to teach the most important lesson I have learned in life so far…
…that all we have to decide, is what to do with the time that is given to us.
Jacob, we can’t WAIT to share our lives and our adventures with you.
Hope you’re cool for a while with being Gimli to our Aragorn and Legolas.