Body Talk: The Truth Hurts

I’m seeking courage for the New Year to write my truth. Maybe that is my resolution? Write my truth. This isn’t a ‘one day you have it, one day you don’t’ goal; truth-telling is an incremental improvement type deal. Each time I set out to write, it’s an attempt to grow bolder, be braver with my pen against the page. To go against that voice in my head warning me to shut up. Who is that voice? Where does it come from?

Truth telling is painful for a writer, when the truth you’re telling is your own – but it’s the only way. Readers aren’t interested in reading that which rings false, even if it’s made up, especially if it’s made up. And if what you’re writing is a page from the script of real life, then you had better get it right, get to the emotional truth of the scene, our human-ness, our inter-connectedness and the complexity of our relationships; you had better write that truth to the bone (note for writers: read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones) But, pop culture Lizzo says it best, the truth hurts. She ain’t lying. Even the truth, sometimes, can be too much.

I’m reading Roxane Gay’s memoir, Hunger, a history of her body and eating. Women have such complicated neurosis related to their bodies, society expects as much. I grew up being taught to love and respect my body for what it can do, mostly through sports and respectable coaches, but also through a fostered self-awareness of the amazing things my body can do and being surrounded by men who did me no harm. My father is the gentlest man, my mother fierce, thankfully. They provided for me, gave me space, let me make my own decisions, accrue failures, and enabled me to grow healthily into my own body. My brother and I were valued equally.

I learned my body can do things. I can flip high in the air, score a goal. I can run a marathon, hike up a mountain, surf in the ocean. Athleticism is in my genes. I can carry to term and birth babies, then feed them with milk from my own incredible body, so on and so forth. My body is amazing, and I’m not going to let anyone tell me otherwise. As an adult talking to other women, I realize how rare my confidence is, how often women put themselves down, especially their bodies. We fault our bodies for what they are not, and for what they are. Too fat, too thin, too tall, too small, too light, too dark. You are beautiful, each and every one of you, and if you have lost that love and appreciation for your body, I hope you will find it back, love the body you have and treat it well. I don’t always treat my body well. I just stuck a second white Lindor chocolate in my mouth, but I have a soul too, and chocolate nourishes my soul. I also understand there are many reasons why women don’t like their bodies, and why bodies are abused. It’s complicated.

Are there things I don’t like about my body? Yes. But I don’t hear my husband or my brother or brother-in-law, none of the men in my life are sitting down and picking apart their physical flaws as defined by the media, so why should I? Why do this to ourselves, ladies? Let’s stop. You’re seriously beautiful and sexy and funny and smart. Flaunt what you’ve got, or don’t, you be you, shy girl – you do you – and let’s teach our sons and daughters to do the same, and place value on the whole person.

The truth is brave. Roxane Gay is courageous. She wouldn’t want me writing that, she flat out says she’s not an inspiration, or writing to share some miracle story of going from fat to thin, her now standing in one pant leg of her old pants on the front cover of her book. That’s not what happens. But her writing is courageous because she shares her truth. Hers is a story of victimhood and surviving her truth. Her truth is that at twelve years old, a boy she thought was her friend leads her into the woods to an abandoned shack where a group of his friends are waiting. They take turns raping her. I know, this is too much. This truth is too big for any one of us to hold. She put on weight to hide the truth under layers of fat. She put on weight because she believed it would make herself disgusting toward men, to keep herself safe and keep men away. She put on weight because she was ashamed that she had let that happen to herself. That is a truth right there, that we live in a world where women are ashamed for the wrongs of boys and men.

Women are ashamed of their bodies for a litany of reasons. It is complicated.

I’m reeling from Roxane Gay’s memoir, eyeing my own little girls across the room. What would I do if someone hurt them? What wouldn’t I do. We live in a world where a woman’s greatest fear is that of being harmed, of losing her life, while a man’s is that of being ridiculed. As mothers, fathers, men, women, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, how can we make this right? I’ve heard a few good places to start. Complimenting women and girls on more than just their appearance. Keeping your hands to yourself. Watching movies with strong female characters and reading books, such as the Rebel Girls Stories of Extraordinary Women series, that highlight accomplished women of various backgrounds. Paying women equal salaries and supporting both men and women in raising families. We can demand that mainstream media shows a more just representation, a broader slice of humanity, if you will, of women and support businesses that do so. We can support, instead of judging, pitying or AGREEING, with women who put themselves down by listening. What I want most as a woman is what most men take for granted: just to be listened to. Women often feel unheard. We live in a world where seen, but not heard, is still the norm for many women. These women deserve to be heard.

Women need to be told it’s okay to take up space in the world. It’s okay to take up space in the world. It’s also okay to love your body, do something you love, and be a presence. You are a gift to this world.

The truth is throughout my life my body has been a gateway to my greatest pleasure as well as my most devastating pain and I must respect it as such. My body brings me immense joy and the truth is there are men and women who would want to murder me for saying that. For talking about my body like it belonged to me at all, for using this voice my parents paid and I worked hard to educate, for living this life freely and taking up space in the world. The truth is too much, and it’s not enough to sit idly by. Thank god for the Beyonce, Malala, Roxane Gay and Gretas of this world. The truth hurts, but there are so many women, and the men and women who support them, who inspire hope.

I Call Bullshit

Folks, can we cut through the bullshit for a minute. To give you some back story on why this is coming up, let’s just say I’m working on a special project to help update language as it pertains to Down syndrome. I’m all over this project. And do you know what gets my hackles up, what gets me fuming and brooding, the smoke rising? Outdated beliefs and preconceived notions that equate to the lives of people with Down syndrome being worth less. We have come so far as a society in the treatment of persons with Down syndrome, to get to this point. Let’s be honest though, the bar was lower than low. When you start at dumping babies off in institutions with no adequate care or attention, lacking basic requirements like diapers, these babies covered in their own filth, there’s nowhere to go but up! But where have we gotten to? How far have we come? Let me tell you.

People with Down syndrome are valued and loved members of their families. There are people with Down syndrome who get married and have babies; who run businesses and run marathons and become teachers and airline stewardesses. Who star in tv shows, win Olympic medals and get nominated for Oscars. Those who are gainfully employed, writing blogs, public speaking, advocating, and those who would very much like to be gainfully employed. With medical advances and improved health care, people with Down syndrome are living longer, into their sixties and seventies; they are studying and graduating from high school, some pursuing higher education, others whom have been awarded honorary degrees, masters and doctorates. There are individuals with Down syndrome who are helping to run philanthropic organizations, and many who are volunteering their time to make the world a better place. Does this sound like maybe these individuals are contributing citizens? It is time we start treating them as such. It’s time for us to go after outdated ways of delivering a Down syndrome diagnosis and talking about Down syndrome.

I cannot tell you how many parents I have met who told me one of the most upsetting aspects of finding out their child was going to be born with Down syndrome was that those responsible for their care and that of their child repeatedly brought up abortion. Down syndrome is not a reason to abort a child. You don’t want a baby, fine. You screwed up, the condom broke, you were raped, you can’t become a mom, you’re too young, too broke, too heartbroken, too lost. There’s a risk to the mother or medical complications that make the fetus incompatible with life, fine. I am not against a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her own body. Sorry, not sorry, I’m just not. There are so many reasons why a woman and her family may want to terminate a pregnancy, but Down syndrome, Down syndrome should not be presented by medical professionals as one of them. The belief that Down syndrome in and of itself is a reason to terminate is a LIE. And we keep perpetuating it, because there aren’t enough voices stopping to say, Hey, that’s not quite right. In a doctor’s office, somewhere right now, a woman is being given a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, and that doctor is going to offer her an abortion. The act of offering is pointed. The option of an abortion is always there; I don’t want to take that right away from anyone. But to suggest abortion, well that’s something, isn’t it? We don’t offer a woman carrying a typical baby an abortion though, so why do so with a woman carrying a fetus with Down syndrome if not to suggest that life is worth less? That is the lie and the bullshit right there. Seriously, think about it for a minute. Imagine you are pregnant, and the doctor asks if you want that taken care of. What the fuck? Now I’m getting angry. The lives of people with Down syndrome are not worth less, and to suggest so by offering an abortion is complete bullshit and it needs to stop.

But what about if the parents feel like they can’t meet the needs of a child with a disability? Listen, I am in a position of absolute privilege, and I know this. From the colour of my skin, to my address to the extra zero at the end of my husband’s salary, I know this and that is why it is even more important that I say something, that I speak out against society’s wrongs. The parents who don’t feel like they can do it, we need to support these families! Adequately, and as a society. In Canada, the structures are loosely in place, but we need to make them more robust, accessible and add stability.  And just as important, families need access to balanced information about Down syndrome.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King Jr.

I saw this quotation emblazoned on the side of the supreme court building in San Diego, California, and it has stayed with me. Any group being denied its basic human rights and dignity is a threat to everyone’s freedom. If you don’t feel compelled to show compassion toward your fellow human beings, then at least understand that one day it is going to be you or someone you love. We are all dis-abled at some point in our lives. We need each other and we need to hold one another in esteem. Continuing to view people with Down syndrome as less than is a concern that befalls us all. What kind of a society do we want to live in? I know the kind of society I want to live in. It’s one where we all belong, and where we are equally valued from the time we are conceived, until the time we die. There’s a poignant line in Megan Stielstra’s collection of essays on fear; she’s quoting a friend who rephrases able-bodied as “temporarily abled”. We need to acknowledge people with Down syndrome are just like us. They are us. There is no us that does not include everyone. We need to stop offering abortion and pretending we aren’t part of the problem. We need to fundamentally change the way we think about Down syndrome – not as a problem to be fixed, or a medical condition, but as simply another way of being. As an equally valid and valued point on the spectrum of human existence.
I’m tired of the status quo. Tired of fighting against outdated language and angry as hell that people with Down syndrome aren’t being treated better. They deserve better. We all do.

Sign Me Up, Coach

I’ve been dabbling with triathlon, training and racing, on and off for a few years now, but today, everything changed.

It’s 4 a.m. and the sky is dark, dark, dark. Penelope awoke in the night and she is cuddled in close to me now; she’s wedged herself firmly between Dan and I and she’s breathing on the back of my neck. Every once and a while she coughs, ferociously, like a dragon is trying to come out. Needless to say, I’m awake.

Being awake isn’t the end of the world; I lie there with my eyes closed as my mind warms up with thoughts of the day ahead. Today’s a big day. I’m starting my new triathlon training schedule, and this time, I have a coach.

I rise at 5 a.m., quietly pack my bags. The game of musical beds that began during our travels continues. I leave Penelope and Oreo, our dog, sprawled out on my bed. Dan has moved to Penelope’s room. I drive through the still morning, not a soul around, make my way to the gym.

My coach uses the program Training Peaks to load my schedule for the week. She is tailoring this schedule for me, so that not one iota of my energy is wasted. I have faith in my coach; she’s an elite athlete, and a mom to three, just like me. The workout for the day is a forty-five-minute cycle divided into intervals of various effort levels, followed by a twenty-minute cardio, core and stretch regime.

It’s 5:30 a.m., no sign of any sun outside, not even one that has ever existed. Inside the gym, I walk into the spin room. Turn on the light. I’m wearing my special cycle shoes, the ones that I my feet clip into methodically, one, two. My legs are pumping, one-two-three, one-two-three, easy, easy. I find my rhythm. I’m listening to an audiobook, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni, one hell of a book, and keeping an eye on the clock. At a certain point, about thirty-five minutes in, I feel a bead of sweat materialize in the middle of my forearm and slide its way down to my elbow. A simultaneous drop forms along my neck and snakes its way down my chest, dividing my torso in half. Still, when I finish my ride, I know I haven’t exerted myself enough. What does 75% effort on the bike look like versus 80% effort? I’m learning.

I click off my cycle shoes, one, two, and slip back into my reliable runners. Running, I can do. But I’m not running today, I’m hopping. I’m hopping one hundred times, times three, in all directions, and the strange part is, in this gym of people working out, all these weirdos in here at 6 a.m., I don’t feel weird or self-conscious jumping around at all, because I know what I’m doing. I have a coach, and she told me so.

I’m the exact person who should have a coach. I’ve been told I’m very coach-able; I respond well to instruction and especially, ahem, praise. In the context of sports, I like being told what to do. The main thing that stopped me from getting a coach sooner was my own hang ups, the spiteful doubts parading through my brain, sticking out their tongues. You don’t deserve a coach. You aren’t good enough. You haven’t shown you’re committed enough. You don’t make enough money. You aren’t giving enough of yourself to others. You don’t have enough time. Enough, enough, ENOUGH. I’ve had enough of excuses, and so I let myself be myself.

My true self is an athlete. Somewhere deep inside me is a competitive gymnast and she remembers what it’s like to push herself; to improve fitness and learn new skills. She needs a challenge. She is strong and fierce. She beats boys in arm wrestles. She is the person I am, because she formed who I have become. I can’t ignore away my physical ambitions and desire to compete. I don’t want to win, in any race, I just want to make myself proud, the inner gymnast in me proud. I want to stretch the bounds of my limits a little bit more. Earn the sweat dripping from my elbows. I want to fully live as the person I truly am. An athlete.

I had a funny thought, it made me snicker. Athlete mom. I’m an athlete mom! Why does that sound so funny? It isn’t funny! There are tons of moms out there working it, working out and working at this thing called life, and I just want to give a shout out and say, hey. I’m an athlete mom, too. We’re doing it. It isn’t easy to put yourself first for that one hour of the day, but my god, if you don’t, who will? Not your husband. He means well, but it’s probably a struggle for him to get his own shit together. Not your kids; the neediest, attention suckers in the world also known as my sweet darlings whom I love very, very, very much. Not those people, and those are your people. You. You are the only one who can put yourself first.

When I arrive home at 7 a.m., my crew has come to life. My husband did get his own shit together and made time for a run on our treadmill before work while the kids played merrily by his side.* I grabbed myself breakfast on the way home.

I bite into a toasty warm egg sandwich and sip my English Breakfast tea misto. I sit and enjoy myself, taking a moment to jot down a few notes from the essay I read the night before. I shower. By 7:40 a.m., I am making lunches and cleaning up and getting the kids ready for school and I feel nothing but gratefulness and so joyful. Exercise makes you feel good, so good, and so does looking after yourself. The time away for me and the treat breakfast were equally essential to my great morning.

I think this morning was the first morning since we’ve been home from our trip that I didn’t have to lose my shit to get the kids out the door. When it was time to go, Elyse was still sitting at the table eating, saying “no”, poopoo to school. My bucket full, I didn’t bat an eye at her belligerence; I packed the lunches I prepared into their respective bags then helped load Penelope and Ariel and the backpacks into the car. When I came back inside, Elyse had her coat and boats on, ready to go. I kissed the top of her head. We jammed to our favourite tunes in the car and had pleasant chit-chat like this is how every morning goes. I got everyone where they needed to be on time. ON TIME.
Maybe the moral here is that we all need support. We need to take time for ourselves, and we need the support of others to do it. Maybe you need a team of people like I do. A husband, a coach, a teenage babysitter. That’s okay. Maybe exercise isn’t your jam, but if you like to paint, or knit or fly a kite – I don’t know – whatever your jam may be; who can help make that part of you a reality? By putting the supports in place in my life, by asking a coach to help me, I feel better able to help others and care for my children. I feel like a better mom and a happier person. Those two things need not be mutually exclusive. Nobody else could make that decision for me. I had to figure it out and make it happen.

Admittedly, we’re on day one here, folks. But every day counts when you’re training. I have a long road ahead, about six months until my actual race, my first 70.3 Ironman, and I chose this route. This route that suits me. I chose this route and today was the day I realized how happy I am not to be going it alone.

*To be fair, my husband usually has his shit together and coaches and supports me in many aspects of life. Love you babe!

Home: Every End is a New Beginning

We’re back!

Welcome home! Welcome back! Everyone says, not unkindly, though it feels particularly unkind to arrive and immediately get slammed by a snowstorm. It feels like some sort of cruel, sick joke.

There are certain realities of home. Reuniting with people we love and a community that cares about us. That’s nice. No, I mean it. That is nice. I’ve come to appreciate our outer circle even more. I’ve come to appreciate sending my kids to school. Space. Canada has so much wide-open space – one of the first things I noticed our first weekend back when I went out to run errands. O’ Canada! And on that note, running errands in Canada is easy; buying groceries, acquiring food in general is so easy here. After being away, this feels like a small miracle. Everything at home is simple, everything far away is hard. But hard was such an adventure, wasn’t it?

Nearing the end of our trip, I realized what made our travels so great was that I was enjoying myself. I had so much damn fun. It’s hard to come back down off that travel high. I really didn’t want to. I’ve become addicted and I’m in withdrawal. I’m still resistant to the pull of regular life. Everyday life feels a little bit like being dragged downstream by a current. There’s a roaring in my ears. I can fight it and struggle, but I’m going to get pulled down anyway. I keep getting sucked under, banged and scraped against rocks I forgot were there, bounced along the bottom, gasping for air.

“You must be happy to be home!” they say.

“Not really!” I want to snap back, but that’s snarky and sounds really really ungrateful, and I am grateful, I am, infinitely grateful for the incredible six-week round-the-world experience we had. In the span of our lives, six weeks isn’t much, but it’s that we made something of those six weeks, something really special. We made those six weeks unforgettable.

There are other hardships of coming home, besides the weather and withdrawal and having to acclimatize and act like a functioning adult. There’s my pup, Oreo. I think she’s dying. We’re all heading in that direction, but she seems to be knocking at the gates. She was going blind and deaf before we left, nobody contends that, and while before she seemed mildly confused, now she looks lost. You can see it in her eyes.

“How old is Oreo, mommy?” Ariel asks.

“She’s 14.”

“Then how can she have Indonesia?” my concerned eight-year-old wants to know.

I had explained to the girls that Oreo is periodically forgetting things, like where to go to the bathroom, and where she is in the house, and that’s called ‘amnesia’. I asked them to be particularly kind to her, help her maintain her dignity, a task they’ve taken to with heart. Oreo seems to be suffering from dementia. Her lucidity comes and goes, though she’s noticeably perked up after a few days back home.

Oreo’s condition upon our return could mean only one truth: my pup is deteriorating. It’s a sad thing watching your first baby grow old and senile, but it’s as much a fact of life as having to return from vacation. There is a natural order to things.

Before we left for our trip, Dan and I sat down together and mapped out the summer months with our tentative plans. I know, I know, this sounds nuts, but we did. Anyway, I tucked that calendar of plans away somewhere to be safely retrieved upon our return. I had faith that calendar would be waiting for me. Except, when we got back, and we cleared our stored belongings out of the basement (we had wonderful renters), then I can’t help but notice my precious calendar has gone missing. It was a few pieces of paper stapled together, where could it have gone? At first, I’m busy, we’re literally moving back into our house. There are groceries to get and laundry to fold, so the missing calendar will have to wait.

A few days goes by, and suddenly it seems imperative that I find the calendar. My past self knew things she needs to impart to my future self, which is my current self, and I have to unlock her secrets. The calendar becomes a map to my destiny, a beacon of hope for the future and the wonderful plans we’ve made. But I can’t find it. Anywhere. Now I’m leafing through piles and files and folders, I’m crouching down to check under shelving. Maybe the calendar came loose and fluttered into some crevice? This is ludicrous. I’m tearing my hair out “where could it be!!??” I text my husband; he was there when I wrote it.

I leaf through my day planner, maybe I stuck the calendar in there, and I stop at the current month of December. Below the month bares an inscription. The words bring me instant calm.

Every end is a new beginning.

I say the words again in my mind, slowly. Every end is a new beginning. Of course I realize the words are a cliché and fairly obvious when applied to the final month of December, but I don’t care. I take them as if they appear just for me. And in response, I feel a real glimmer of hope. Our trip may be over, but that just means there’s room for something else marvellous to begin. Thank you, universe!

Dan texts me back, “Are you sure you didn’t just write the calendar in a notebook?” I thumb through the Hilroy notebook I had on the go before we left, and sure enough, there are my well laid plans for a bright future – except, you know what? They aren’t as great as I remembered them.

We can work on that.

Lovely Lisbon, Perfectly Portugal: Saying Goodbye

You’ll have to believe me when I tell you it’s hard to fathom six and a half weeks has gone by in the blink of an eye. It has. Don’t tell our parents, but I was loathe to return and see our trip come to an end so much so that I pleaded with Dan to extend. Morocco, we would head to Morocco, a place I originally slated into our itinerary, but for lack of time, we had to leave out. Africa! I made my case, then let Dan mull over the pros and cons of asking work for yet another week away, and in the end let’s just say it didn’t work out. I’ll have to live to see Africa another day. I can dream, but I can’t complain.  We had an incredible trip.

I’ve enjoyed travelling so much so in fact that I would have happily continued to do so for a year, maybe more. We met a few awesome families along the way, one of whom were fellow Canadians travelling for a year with their two girls; another group from Oregon travelling for two years with teenage daughters and a son Elyse’s age. I’m reading a book, One Year Off by David Elliott Cohen about a U.S. family with three young kids, ages 2, 7 and 8 who sell their home and make for the globe. When you get a good taste for travel, meet other families who are travelling longer, and read about world travelling families, it isn’t too hard to envision yourself in their shoes. Maybe one day. In the meantime, back to work and real life. Christmas is coming!

Lisbon was a dream. European cities hold old world charm and there was an abundance to discover. The history of the place is staggering and humbling. Their statues honour those who discovered “new worlds”, i.e. America. Lisboa in a snapshot is all squares, some raised on stilts (!) and painted tiles called azulejos; dank alleyways and lit smokes. Exuberant grandmothers tapping our girls on the cheeks, dark hair, dark eyes and tanned skins, yellow trams used as buses or elevators, seven mountains with viewpoints, miradouros, high above; fado music acapella floating in through our window, oceanfront graffiti, and custard nata tarts. Salted cod fish, bacalhau, hearty lunches, late dinners, cobblestone streets, narrow passageways and secret staircases. NASCAR taxi drivers, euros that slip away like a fish from your grasp, roundabouts round, a zoo, the oceanario, and the beautiful language of Portuguese, obrigada, thank you (obrigado for a man). Cruise ships docked and tourists, throngs of us, teaming the streets; wolfish vendors and restauranteurs with hungry eyes, licking their lips. The clown who gifted our children with balloons we did not want, never asked for; Dan and I rolling our eyes, playing along, for the children, think of the children. “One euro”, the clown’s hand outstretched. I reach into my bag, pull out the piece.

“Each”.

“No.”

“One euro, each.”

“No.”

The clown isn’t smiling. Her eyes grow cold. I don’t budge an inch.
She leaves, with a flourish of her hand, dismissing the children.

Never-mind.

Chocolate cake and croissants with chocolate, decadent desserts, creaky wooden steps and floorboards, sleepy children, wine glasses clinking, a courteous knock on our apartment door, “Excuse me – I understand, I once had small children, but they are running on my head.” Walking feet and tippy toes, an antiquated apartment. Acoustics. Sound that carries.

A statue, arms wide open, churches set against blue skies, layers of edifices, centuries old, millenniums. Concrete steps to climb on, balance, jump off. City jungle gym. The rattle of our rickety fold-up stroller. The piercing smell of human waste, piles of clothes, empty bodies, missing. The telltale signs of any big city. A beggar woman cross-legged in front of a two-thousand-year-old church, clanging a coin in a tin cup.

Chickens! Roosters! Brightly coloured, mosaics, checkers, paintings. Old meets new. Sleek, exhibition park, pier-side, a gondola ride. Jellyfish-spotting from above. Blub, blub.

The ease of normalcy returning; the familiarity of Europe in food and folk. A French tour guide, the awesome surfing waves of the Atlantic crashing against the rugged coastline. A farmer’s market outside of town. Six euros for an armful of fruit. A large mango – surprise! – papaya. And octopus, you must eat the seafood, that tastes like, well, chicken.

Castles and palaces, kings and queens past. Whole rooms dedicated to mermaids. Thrones and royal gardens. Grand walkways and palisades. Ariel’s search for the crown jewels, but none to be found in Sintra’s summer palace (try the permanent residence). Pena’s towering height and bright pastels, turrets and towers, staggering views, but mind the drop. Cheapo vino, dark ale, bitter coffee quick quick, make it an espresso.

An unassuming day, an unassuming time, a riotous uproar down the alley to my left. Football fans leave the bar, as dusk settles, on the move, chanting for victory. A pregame display of machoism, patriotism and club fidelity. Do not get between a man and his ball.

Where are all the women?

Sports fans? Joggers? I encounter mostly men. Families in the squares? Mostly it is men milling about. Do I imagine, when I handle our affairs, the men eyeing me curiously? Small men with tight-fitting jeans. Have I stumbled into a man’s world? Back in time?

It’s a new world. Old world charm. Could I fit in here? I already know I would.

Many a stone left unturned, more to see and learn,
Until we meet again.
When one trip ends…another one begins.