This photo was taken down near Seal Rocks on Philip Island during the Easter school holidays, as the sun was beginning to drop in the afternoon over the ocean, casting its rays upon the backs and smiles of my children. I was over 100km away, in the office, working.
Adam’s family was visiting at the time and had taken them sightseeing for a few days, leaving me at home. He occasionally texted me images of what cute or amusing antics they were doing. But this photo… hit me deeper. As I picked up my phone to look, knowing that this shot had just happened, I realized two things: they were okay without me, and I was okay without them. That they could enjoy themselves without me and deserved to, no matter how much I longed to be there too. That these bittersweet separations were something I would have to get used to as they grew up and learned to move more independently from our tight family unit.
I also thought, conversely, that it was time for me to try to do the same. That me, as Karen, could operate solo. The amibitions and goals I have for myself needn’t always involve the family; that the time I’ve spent crouched over the safety of my home hearth may have had less to do with maintaining routine than a fear of what may come if I stood up and opened the door to the outside. Perhaps this is why I didn’t go in 2009 (but managed to run a BlogHer 5Km in 2010, albeit in my garage).
“That’s it. I’m going,” I said to myself as I looked at the kids.
The irony is that was going already. Had been for months. If you count the purchase of the conference ticket as action. But the excuses came even as confirmation arrived in my inbox (“Oh, well, if I decide not to go, then it won’t be a huge disaster. I can live with the loss of that amount”).
Then again, the signs had begun to pile up. I’d published my Living List and it had both ‘Go to BlogHer ‘ and ‘Explore New York’ on it. And during a session of the Digital Parents Conference my phone suddenly buzzed, indicating I’d received a message. It was from from friend Jasmin and it said words to the effect of “Let’s go.”
I was sitting up near the front while she was up near the back, yet I managed to turn around in my seat and locate her straight away and we gave each other a cheeky grin.
And that’s how I feel about this still – cheeky, silly, with a buoyant sense of expectation about what the trip might bring. I’ve probably felt like this a handful of times since my teenage years, specifically seventeen, the last time I left these shores. It’s exciting.
What’s also exciting, and sealed the sense of kismet, is that a few weeks ago, as the Emerging Writers’ Festival was running, I discovered that I’d been chosen as a BlogHer Voice of the Year honouree in the humour category for this post – New Years Resolutions in a 2.0 World – which I wrote in minutes after Adam and I went through a similar frustrating exchange early in the New Year, when we’re all feeling both strung out and languid, coming off the party season and tetchy about what the coming months may bring (or I was, at least).
Little did I know then how things were going to come together. And all it took was a photo. This one. I bought my plane ticket and here we are.