Spanish at the Spa

In an effort to save the money during my sabbatical in 2011 I stopped getting my nails done–at first opting to paint them myself and eventually not painting them at all. I can count on one hand the number of times color has covered my nails since then. ‘Tis a far cry from the spring day in my twenties when I told my mother I couldn’t try on sandals at the shoe store because my nails were, at the time, unpolished and as such didn’t look good in open-toed sandals

This all came back to me when I was looking at the offerings at the Hotel Spa Granada–the hotel where I study Spanish each morning. During my research prior to my trip, at least three sources recommended their spa–not just for their services but also for the price. And so it was that at 4 p.m. today I found myself in a half-underground room near the pool–the only air-conditioned place I’ve seen, let alone been in.

I opted for the special that included a manicure, pedicure and thirty minute massage for a mere twenty-four dollars (and I’m told this is the “expensive” place in town). My masseuse greeted me in Spanish. I explained I spoke a little of her language–that I was learning. We exchanged few words that first half-hour because I was blissfully relaxed as her oiled hands pushed into my tight traps.

It was a good thing we started with the massage, however, because as she ran her hands up and down my back, I thought of three things I could ask her in Spanish. And so it was that when I sat down for my manicure I began what would become a full hour conversation almost entirely in Spanish.

How long have you worked here? Do you live in Granada? Do you work five days per week?

As she filed my fingernails, I learned that Judith has spent four years working at the spa six days per week (from 9am to 6pm). And that problem in America where we study languages in high school and most of us come out of it not being able to speak a word? It happens in Nicaragua, too. Unable to speak English after studying it in high school, Judith took night classes at an English school and is able to practice by speaking to her clients. However, she told me she only speaks English if her client doesn’t know Spanish. For the first time in my life, that wasn’t me.

I told her this was my first time in Nicaragua and in Central American, and that today was my second day of studying Spanish. Judith was impressed with my conversational abilities after my whopping eight hours of one-on-one lessons. And frankly, so was I.

I don’t profess to be a master at learning languages–a mere hour after conversing with Judith, I searched for words at dinner without nearly as much success. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started teaching myself Spanish three weeks ago, it’s that the best practice is to speak–mistakes and all. It also helps to have a patient listener. And lucky for me, in addition to her skills as masseuse and beautician, Judith had that skill as well.

First Days: Granada, Nicaragua

It’s by now a familiar feeling–that combination of exhilaration and anticipation and fear, the near future mostly unknown, that natural high, the feeling like I’m so happy I could burst, that moment I know that this is why I travel. It hits me within the first few minutes of arrival in a new place–which is usually before I’ve even made it out of the airport.

I don’t think I’ll ever replace the fear that hides among all of those other good things. At least not when I travel alone. As I see it, I have a healthy dose of fear–just enough to keep me on my toes but not enough to keep my heels firmly planted in my home country.

Up until two days ago my major travels only took me to Europe and Canada with a few stops around the Caribbean. So Nicaragua is the shock to my system that I expected–but only a small tremor, certainly not an earthquake. I’m not so naive as to be too surprised at what I see.

Granada is thirty miles from the Managua airport (into which I flew). Between the two, we drove by more than a few people using horses with carts as their mode of transit. I saw kids playing in front of houses made of corrugated metal, and understood how easily natural disasters could devastate countries like this. Watching over those children were parents or grandparents, and that got me to thinking of how simple life really is. Or can appear to be. A roof over one’s head. Food to eat. A companion along the journey. Time to play, time to work, time to help others.

But as we arrived in the city, the frenetic pace of life returned. Cars darting around the people on foot or on bicycle. Motorcycles weaving in and out. A one way street of traffic at a stop, for reasons we can’t see beyond the truck in front of us. Tourists in the central square. Horse and carriages for them to see the city. Sidewalks lined with semi-permanent stands– their vendors selling produce, music, shoes, watches, eyeglasses. People walking in the street if the sidewalk is blocked by a vendor.

I’m not a city girl but my solo self is not fearless enough to venture out into the countryside (give me time–this is, after all, only my first time in Central America). But behind the gates and doors along the street lie homes–like the one in which I’m staying–that have courtyards in the middle of them, common rooms open to the outdoors. I wouldn’t know I’m in a city when I’m in my room.

That serenity is briefly interrupted by my walk to Spanish class–down the aforementioned street, which at 7:45 this Saturday morning already had many vendors with their wares on display. Three blocks later, I step through the open doorway into the Hotel Spa Granada, past the bubbling fountain in the middle of the first courtyard, past the Central American art decorating the walls of the second courtyard, into the third courtyard which is occupied by a pool–the far end of which is covered by a sloped Spanish tile roof, under which me and my teacher sit.

Four hours later I head back home for lunch. (Today: spaghetti with a red sweet cream sauce, spiced rice, a fried banana and a salad.) My afternoons are mine to explore or relax.

Yesterday afternoon I joined a tour which began by giving us all bicycles with which to bike to the lake and along its coast, to a boat to take me around the Isletas–tiny islands with large private homes on them, or with a bar catering to tourists surrounded by those same tin homes, laundry hanging outside. (My Spanish teacher today told me no one here has washers or dryers.)

There’s certainly much more to see and do here. But ideally one strikes a balance between touring and resting. This afternoon I rest by writing. Reading. And if the temperature remains at 90, I’ll head into the pool. If clouds set in, maybe a walk. A future pleasantly unknown.

Last Minute Travel? Check.

I booked a flight today. To Nicaragua. I leave on Thursday.

Why? Well, I’m about to start teaching at a college. In New York state. Where it’s cold. The last winter I was here I realized the best way to survive was to head south for a spell. In January. And February. And March, too, if possible. (Thus is why I simply moved south the following year and never imagined spending another winter in the northeast. Never say never.)

The semester starts in fifteen days. So if I wanted to get my January thaw in, it was time to act.

Michael and I flirted with the idea of Grand Cayman. But for various reasons abandoned the idea. “For the money we’d spend going there, I could go learn Spanish,” I said, having recently come across a site I’d found last year for a language school. “I’m more a learning-vacation type, anyway,” I said.

I realize I don’t have to go to a country to learn its language. But if you can, why not? And if that country has ninety degree weather right now, well, sign me up.

Why Spanish? Well, I’ve always thought I’d love to speak another language. Fluently. My French and English allow me to communicate with lots of people when I travel. So when considering which language to work on, my first thought was to improve  my French.

But then I thought of the jobs I’ve wanted that required Spanish fluency. And Spanish is a darn good language to know if living in the US. Or traveling south of its border. Then there’s the Camino. English and French allowed me to speak with a good number of fellow pilgrims as we walked across northwest Spain, but I was often at a loss when it came to speaking to the innkeepers and other locals.

“Oh, but what about Italian?” I thought next. The language of (some of) my ancestors. Oh, how I love Italy. I’ve hit the major cities, the Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast. But if I’m going to continue my genealogy research, I’ll soon be headed to the south of that country where English is not spoken nearly as widely.

So I debated. And debated. And then got stricken with paralysis by analysis.

Until I rediscovered Benny, the Irish Polyglot. A polyglot, I learned, is someone who speaks many languages. Benny went from being the guy who couldn’t speak a word of Spanish (after living in Spain for six months) to being able to pick up enough of any language to be conversational–in a few hours.

His advice for how to choose which language to learn  was this: pick the one you want to be able to use next. For me, that’s Spanish. Most every trip I’ve taken abroad is to Europe. And if I had to guess where I’d go the next time I’m over there, I’d bet money I’d be back on the Camino.

Yes, I realize Latin American Spanish is different from Spain Spanish, but my goal at this point is just to be able to converse and be understood. And I’m pretty sure knowing any Spanish is better than none.

So I’m off. In 72 hours I’ll be living with a Nicaraguan family with whom I can barely communicate. I’ll take a few hours worth of Spanish lessons each day. And hopefully, by the time I say good-bye to my hosts, we’ll have had some great conversations. Wish me luck.

Happy Moments in 2014

I read that happiness really comes in moments. Following fellow writer Tara Lynne Goth’s lead, I thought it would be a good exercise to jot down those moments in 2014. I thought I’d get to thirty and then have to check Facebook for reminders of my year. But I got to 56 without any prompting, and it was a happy moment when I realized I could go on and on about this!

So without further ado, some of my many happy moments of 2014–with apologies for those I missed. I can already hear my mother saying, “How could you forget ______?”

  1. Sitting on the chaise lounge on my screened in porch reading a book with my babbling brook as background music.
  2. The moment I walked in the door to our twice yearly writing retreats to be greeted by the smiles and shrieks and hoorays of my fellow writers.
  3. Every moment I sat on the porch talking to Lois, Lynne, and Stacey on aforementioned writing retreats.

    The new  Mrs. Gallo

    4. The new Mrs. Gallo

  4. The look on Bethany’s face when the priest announced that she was officially married to my brother Jeffrey.
  5. Sitting on the patio at Atlanta Bread Company with Michael on the first warm day of spring, just after divesting myself of a pint of blood, having a conversation about joining his family on a Mediterranean cruise and deciding that we’re not the kind of people who hop a plane across the Atlantic and stay for only ten days.
  6. The moment we received the confirmation e-mail that our flights to Europe had been booked.
  7. 10430831_10202366764713313_8342761792980447587_n

    7. Arrival in Santiago

    The moment I finally reached the Cathedral in Santiago–after having walked more wet and lonely days than I imagined I would.

  8. When I showed up at the hostel the first night of this year’s Camino to find the door locked and learning the other woman approaching was also looking to stay there, so I wasn’t alone in trying to figure out how to get into the place.
  9. 9.  Manuel Rocha and me outside his bicycle shop in Esposende, Portugal

    9. Manuel Rocha and me outside his bicycle shop in Esposende, Portugal

    The moments I spent in the bicycle shop in Esposende sitting in comfy chairs talking to the owner (Manuel Rocha) with his employees and customers serving as translators, finally coming into contact with people who not only knew about the coastal route of the Camino Portuguese  but had also ridden it and were instrumental in building its infrastructure.

  10. The moment Manuel gave me a scallop shell for my pack listing all the towns along the Coastal route.

    10. My Camino pack with Manuel's gift attached.

    10. My Camino pack with Manuel’s gift attached.

  11. All the moments I used Google Translate (off-line!) to communicate with the Portuguese.
  12. The moment Michael realized his pack had been stolen and I had recovered it (which was one and the same moment).
  13. The moment I met Michael’s family for the first time in the KK Picasso Hotel in Barcelona.
  14. The moment I figured out how to use Facetime on my new iPad to talk to my parents.
  15. The first time I called my parents from France via Facetime.
  16. Seeing Rémy again—and how all those memories of my first Camino and his kindnesses along the way came flooding back.
  17. Meeting Rémy’s wife Jeanine–a wonderful woman who understands her husband’s need to head off alone for a few weeks each year to walk the French and Spanish countryside with strangers who soon become friends.

    12.

    16. and 17. Rémy and Jeanine

  18. The moment I realized that the first time in my life I’d be living with a boyfriend would be three days before he and I took off for three months in France.
  19. Every moment Michael did the dishes.
  20. Every moment in the open-air markets in France.

    Market in Aix-en-Provence

    20. Market in Aix-en-Provence

  21. Every moment spent speaking French–especially on the Camino and with Remy and Jeanine.
  22. Every moment spent in Jane Henriques’ art class in Ceret, France.
  23. Every moment I opened the shutters in our apartments to see a French city street below me.
  24. 23. View from one of our apartments in Aix-en-Provence

    23. View from one of our apartments in Aix-en-Provence

    Every moment I held the warm bread from the boulangerie in Aix.

  25. Every moment I ate the bread from the boulangerie in Aix.
  26. Moments spent sitting with Michael watching the people go by in Aix, Vannes, Ceret, Coulliere.
  27. The moment we saw Ben in the Asheville Airport–knowing we were finally home.
  28. The moments I spent talking to Laura and Chris via Skype while they sat in Laura’s hospital room.
  29. The first moment I stood in front of a class of foreign students and began teaching them English.
  30. The moment I learned the concept of student-centered learning and realized the next time I teach me and my students will have an even better experience.
  31. The moments each morning when I wake up to a man who is happy, and happy to see I’m awake (because he wakes up hours before I do).
  32. The moment I realized my boyfriend was bringing more bags to France than I was (a little selfish, I know).
  33. The moment Chris and Esther offered their home to Michael and I for the months after we returned to Asheville.
  34. The moment I realized Meg was going to get to live a dream she had told me about years ago.
  35. Every moment Ava and Bella screamed “Aunt Becky!” and ran to hug me.
  36. The moment I finished transcribing hours of interviews I did with my grandmother quite a few years ago.
  37. Every moment spent cooking with Mom the day before Thanksgiving.
  38. The moment Michael played the first few notes on his trumpet in the businesses in Schroon Lake for the Olde Time Christmas–the look on everyone’s faces as they stopped to listen.
  39. The moment Michael showed me the homemade Chocolate Creme Pie he made me for my birthday (which he managed to get to Montreal all in one piece).

    32

    39. and 40.

  40. The moment Michael told me how he stopped at a Dunkin Donuts on his way to Montreal with the aforementioned pie and asked them to write “Happy Birthday Boo Boo” on it.
  41. The moment I opened the package delivered to me on my birthday and found it was macaroons from Michael. (No–not the coconut ones. If you don’t know which ones I’m talking about, OMG–go find some and you will never be the same.)
  42. The moment I tried Michael’s mushroom risotto for the first time (and every moment I ate it thereafter).
  43. The moment Dad realized I bought a TV so that when he visited he could watch the Olympics. (It was the smallest TV the poor man has probably ever seen, and was returned a couple weeks later despite Dad assuring me that I’d get used to having one.)

    41.

    43. The TV was so small he couldn’t see it from the couch. So he had to move a chair closer.

  44. Every moment Michael made me laugh–and there are lots of them.

    I may  one day need counseling for how to live with a man who is always so darn happy.

    44. I may one day need counseling for how to live with a man who is always so darn happy.

  45. Every moment Michael made my mother laugh.
  46. The moments Jessica called to ask for my advice.
  47. Every moment I look at the birthday card from Jessica that sits on my dresser, the front of which says, “Thanks for being born.” Of course, I had no control over my birth, but still, I like the sentiment.
  48. Every moment someone says, “That Michael–he’s a good catch.” And I realize they’ve only seen a small part of what makes him wonderful.
  49. Every moment I spent writing.
  50. Every moment I spent teaching. Especially the moment at the end of a two hour tutoring session with a first-time student when she said how helpful I was and gave me a big hug.
  51. Hiking with Jan.
  52. Having lunch with Bernice Ende— a woman riding her horses back and forth across America whom I read about in the local paper and e-mailed to say, “You sound awesome. I want to meet you.” And she said yes.
  53. The moment Liz called to ask me to crochet her some more wreaths for the knobs on her kitchen cabinets. The irony of the fact that the sister who used to call me “Granny” whenever I crocheted now calls me to request such things is not lost on me.
  54. Every moment spent in a class with Barbara Waterhouse.
  55. Every moment spent in a Celebration at the Center for Spiritual Living in Asheville.
  56. Every moment spent catching up with friends and family after my return from Europe.
  57. Every moment someone commented on a blog post I wrote. Brings a smile to my face every time.

Oh wow. I could go on forever here. Thanks Tara Lynne for the idea. What a great way to start a Tuesday.

A Gift for Me? Why–Thank You!

The most popular question I get these days is, “Where are you?” The short answer: Schroon Lake, New York. Learning, yet again, to accept the generosity of others. In this case, a rent-free home with more bedrooms than I have holes in my head (visitors are very welcome!).

I know many of you marvel at my ability to seemingly “stumble” into such things. In this case, however, I stumbled into generous parents. My own. Accepting their generosity, however, has had its ups and downs.

1999: Parent as ATM 

“Where do you want to go next?” my father asked as we walked down Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, my mother window shopping not far behind us.

“Well, I need to go to an ATM machine.”

“What? Why? You don’t have any money?”

“I do have money, I just need to get it from the ATM.”

“No, don’t do that. Here,” he said, pulling a wad of cash from his pocket. “What do you need?”

“I don’t need your money Dad. I have my own. Just not on me.”

“You don’t have any cash on you right now?” he asked, sounding incredulous. I took offense.

“No. Nobody my age carries cash anymore.” His brows scrunched together as he tried to figure this out. How could I explain the convenience of ATM machines to a man who has never in his life used one?

My mother piped in, “Lou, leave her alone. Just let her do what she wants.” She could see my frustration rising.

“Well, I can just give you some money,” my father said. “Then you don’t have to get any.”

“I don’t need your money!” I yelled and stomped off ahead of them to find an ATM machine.

Now I’m not complaining that my father likes to give his children money. But as a twenty-something finally out on her own, I wanted to  prove I could support myself. Which meant not taking money from Dad. My mother understood this. My father did not.

“I just wanted to help you out,” my father said when I returned with cash in my pocket. I looked at my mother. She must have tried to help him understand. Couldn’t he just let this go?

“I don’t need your help.” I said with a growl.

“Lou, just drop it,” said my mother. But my father was never good at that.

2011: Love and Money

Years later a friend told me about the Love Languages.”You’ve never heard of this?” he said.

“No. What is it?”

“Well, this therapist has studied lots of people in relationships. He says there are five ways people express love. You can take a test to find what your top two are. The idea is that you and your partner have to know how to speak each other’s languages.”

“Give me an example,” I said.

“Okay. So one of them is physical touch. So let’s say that’s how I like to give and receive love. If you don’t like to hold hands in public, then there may be some conflict there. We have to learn to speak the other person’s language once in a while for it to work.”

That night I googled “Love Languages.” And read and re-read the language called “Receiving Gifts”. That wasn’t me. I lived quite simply and got rid of stuff any chance I got. But you know who liked receiving gifts? My father. Whereas my mother has determined she doesn’t need anything and loves when we give donations in her name for Christmas, my father still likes getting gifts. I read on and learned the way you like to receive affection is also the way you like to give it. And that, right there, explained my father trying to give me money. It wasn’t that he felt I was helpless without him. It was how he showed he loved me. I cried. And here I was pushing away his love all the time. Shouldn’t we all be so lucky to have a dad who shows his affection this way?

I told my mother about the book. “So the next time he offers me money, I’m just going to bite my tongue, and say thank you, and take it.” And that’s just what I did. And what I continue to do to this day.

2013: A New Approach

Dad, to his credit, has also changed his approach. When he gives me a fifty before I leave to go back home after a holiday visit he’ll say, “Now, I know you don’t need this . . . ” Or he’ll give it a purpose, “Here. The gas is on me.” Or “Get yourself a snack at the airport.” To which my mother says, “Or a couple drinks,” with a smile.

Then Dad avoided talking to me about it altogether:  after a three day visit to my home, I walked into the bathroom to find a bill sitting on the ledge below the mirror. He once hid a bill in the case for my iPad. Message received. No words needed.

2014: The Price is Right

And so it is that I’ve accepted Dad (and Mom)’s gift of a place to stay for a couple months. Or longer, if we so choose. I will get back Asheville eventually. But if Dad has his way, not too soon. He loves having all five children living in the same state.  I marvel at the irony of it all: I left New York three years ago saying I would never again live in a place that requires a person wear fleece in May. Yet here I am. Showing Dad how much I love him. ;)

An Update and a Thank You

“I thought maybe I got off your e-mail list somehow,” my former piano teacher told me today. “But then I went on your blog and saw you just haven’t written anything in a while. ”

This is true. I’m not sure why I haven’t written. Not for lack of adventures–that’s for sure. So here’s a little taste of what we’ve been up to:

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Bastille Day in Vannes

Since leaving our respective homes back in May, Michael and I have shared five apartments, two houses, one cruise ship cabin, and three hotel rooms–in six countries, three US states, and on one body of water:

 

Our Saturday view in Ceret

  • We hung our underwear out to dry over the streets of Aix-en-Provence (that’s where the drying rack was).
  • Michael stuck his trumpet out our window to play for the tourists in Vannes (but as we were on the third floor, no one saw where it was coming from, which suited him just fine).
  • We peered down from our windows in Ceret every Saturday to see the market being set up (and of course ventured out into it).
  • We learned to keep a closer eye on our bags in Barcelona (you read about that one).
  • We hosted a dinner party in Asheville (in a lovely house bigger than any I ever hope to own).
  • And just last weekend we watched my brother (finally) marry the wonderful woman he’s been dating for a very long time.
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My niece and my new sister-in-law.

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The view from the porch at my writing retreat

For those of you thinking that my days of solo travel are over, I beg to differ. Over the last four months, Michael and I have spent six weeks apart. To the aforementioned tallies, I can personally add ten different hostels, one hotel, one house, and one farm–and an additional two countries.

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On the Camino . . . Again

  • Just two weeks after we arrived in France, I flew to Portugal to spend ten days on the Portuguese Camino to Santiago.
  • I spent a couple days in Paris to meet a friend from NY whose travels happened to coincide with mine.
  • I left Michael in Vannes and hopped a boat to a goat farm on an island for a week of volunteer work.
  • Less than twenty-four hours after returning to the US, I drove up to New York for some family time. Four days in New York turned into ten. Because I was enjoying it. And because I can.
  • I spent a few days with Michael before leaving him again for two weeks on my twice-yearly writing retreat.
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Michael and I on Schroon Lake

So what’s next? This month, Michael will be in Asheville and California. I’ll be in New York and Montreal. And we’ll meet again in a house that stands just thirty seconds away from the shores of Schroon Lake–whose waters will be frozen over by the time we leave there in December.

Summing it all up like this, I’m a bit speechless–and I’m a writer, so that’s saying a lot.

During these times–when I look in awe at the wonderful life I am blessed with–all I can think to do is give thanks.

I’d like to thank you all, dear readers. You who have said, “Go!”. You who have read this blog–some for many years. Thank you for subscribing. For telling your friends about this blog, or about me, in hopes of inspiring someone else. Thank you to those who have posted a comment or contacted me personally. Thank you for asking me to speak to you, your friends, your students. Thank you to those of you who have made a change in your life and shared your fears and excitement with me. If you’re one of those people, stop right now and be damn proud of yourself. I’m sure proud of you.

My first public reading–John C. Campbell Folk School, March, 2008

I don’t know if or how my life would be different if I didn’t start this blog. But I can tell you this: my life is so much better for having done so. And for that I thank my first writing class: our teacher, Glenda Beall, who gently coaxed our stories out of us, my classmates who listened to those stories and laughed or cried and told me to keep writing, the classmate who showed me what a blog was when I had no intention of ever starting one, the classmates who started the on-line writing group and eventually our twice-yearly retreats, and to all my successive writing teachers and classmates.

And to all of you. I now know I like to write for an audience, and I thank you for showing up to my performance.

The Things We Leave Behind (or Three Uses for Everything)

Last week, my friend Lois sent me a link to the show Tiny House Nation. Each week, Zach Giffin and John Weisbarth help people build and move into Tiny Houses–classified as under 500 square feet for the purposes of this show. Zach lives in a 112 square foot house himself and serves as contractor and custom-furniture builder. John does the requisite eyebrow-lifting when he steps into the first family’s 1300 square foot house, and then helps them to scale down–to the point that they can comfortably live in just 172 square feet.

During that first episode, in an effort to help a Jeff and Chelsea Kibert determine what to let go of,  John said, “If you don’t need it, you can’t keep it.”

Ha. I would have said, “If it doesn’t have at least three uses, you can’t keep it.” That advice was given to me two years ago while I was walking nearly five hundred miles on the Camino de Santiago. The pack on my back held everything I thought I would need for the next forty days. Weighing in at twenty-two pounds, however, I started to reconsider my choices.

Rick, a fellow pilgrim on the trail, told me my pack should only contain items with three uses. I immediately liked the idea. After all, I’m the woman who is mystified by–and refuses to purchase–single-use items.

So on days when I walked alone for a few hours, I challenged myself to think of three uses for things I had with me. The words of William Morris floated into my head: Do not have anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Well, beauty wasn’t much of a concern along the Camino. But useful? Yes. Three times over.

A few days later, at a hostel in Tosantos, I met a fellow pilgrim named Becky. As we sat in the garden outside the hostel, our clothes swayed in the breeze on the clothesline. I shared the everything-must-have-three-uses philosophy with her.

“Only three?” she asked.

Only? Was she serious? Yes, indeed she was. Becky, I soon learned, was a master of packing light. She glanced over at the laundry line and gave me four uses for her bath towel. I was impressed. So far I had only used mine for drying me post-shower. And it didn’t even do that very well–probably because it was only as big as a legal-size sheet of paper.

By the time I finished the Camino my pack was six pounds lighter. Things I thought I needed for the journey (gym shorts, a second pair of hiking pants, a paperback book) had been left behind–and I didn’t miss any of them.

Last week, I watched Jeff and Chelsea decide what they would need on the next phase of their life journey–and knew that, like me, much of what they left behind would not be missed.