It was almost a year to date, August 13, 2013, that I had had one last taste of fried chicken and twenty months to date, December 22, 2012, that our family had had a vacation in Charlottesville. Our last two visits to this quiet town were bittersweet: one heralded a last of many things before departure and the other an attempt to find rest and relaxation amidst a stressful and painful time.
This visit was all about fun, family and reunification with favorite finds and foods. We ate at the same spots, slept in the same rooms, shopped at the same stores and relaxed in the same environment. We swam, walked, napped and talked. I wrote, Jeff worked, JR read and Yousef explored. We all relaxed.
Except for some closures, little had changed in the pedestrian downtown over the years, but much has changed in our life. Jeff and I first discovered the area as a twosome. It was one summer day, when the in-laws asked to visit Monticello that the treasure of the fried chicken was found. After that, Jeff and I would pass the summers taking day trips for lunch, coffee and gelato. Then, we expanded our adventure and started staying overnights first at a local bed and breakfast, then at a Marriott to finally be in the know for unbeatable rates at the Omni.
Then, Jannah-Rae was born but the tradition lived on. While the trips became less frequent, they continued well into her life. We came as a family of three, with grandparents, with out-of-town visitors, for a day, or a couple. Our last visit here as a family of three celebrated Jeff's birthday as an impromptu trip. That was a long time ago, well before we had Yousef in the making.
Now there is Yousef, and his first family vacation in Charlottesville. While at his age Jannah-Rae had logged countless trips to C-Ville, there's something to bringing him here at this age that casts a special spell and makes me stop and reflect.
Where once Jeff and I could enjoy a quiet meal, this time our attention was equally divided between putting food in our mouths and putting it in the kids'. Where once JR napped cocooned in the Moby wrap, this time she sped through on her bike. Where once I was wheelchair bound, this time I ran after Yousef. Where once JR silently tagged along, this time she voiced her opinions, desires, and needs. Where once we had one kid running into mischievousness, this time we had a team. And what a team they are! Together or apart, they make people stop, stare and comment, and conclude with a free cookie or a sticker book. There are more "where onces" to list so I decided to keep the list short and spend the time enjoying the "this times."