a waltz.


Today as I was walking along the streets of Vancouver, our new city in life, I remembered a time not too long ago where we walked hand in hand along the river banks in Lyon, France. It as a beautiful moment where we knew that our life was changing in the near future, but holding your hand I felt safe and secure with you by my side.

The next day we photographed a wedding. As the evening came to an end they played a song that had the beat of the waltz. We grabbed each other’s hand and moved towards the dance floor. There in each other’s arms we swept along the dance floor, fluidly while laughing over our small mistakes. But being there I felt such a magnitude of love and gratitue towards you and the life we were living. I never wanted that moment to end.

I remembered that moment, because today I heard a song that had the beat of the waltz, and it brought me back to you and the love and devotion we hold for each other. The days where we’re fluid together and the days where we trip over our mistakes.

I wanted to let you know, that I think of you, every time I hear a waltz.

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we return to familiarity.

A simple calmness. A relished feeling of enjoying our space together, a space that I put much heart and soul into creating. A simple calmness is all I wanted. When much of our days are spent in stressful situations; traffic, work, expectations and obligations I wanted our home to be a place that felt calm and peaceful. Where we unwind and dine.

And so it became clear to be that after we toured Europe and traveled a bit of Africa that we would settle back into our first home together. We knew we couldn’t make Vancouver feel like Europe so I set off to making sure it represented both. As the fall evenings became darker and darker, each day I would light candles and dim the lights as much as possible to create a relaxing atmosphere. He would come in at the end of his work day and find me curled under a beige throw and a book in my lap, and say “Honey, I’m home” in that sweet mocking way of his and also say “I love our home” as he knew it would fill my heart with warmth. As he took off his winter coat and dress shoes I would continue to read the last few paragraphs on the page I started and then we’d tuck ourselves into our tiny kitchen to prepare a meal together. Roasted seasonal vegetables in garlic, parmesan and sprinkles of salt and pepper become our favorite way to enjoy our fresh produce. We pair our meat intake down and decide to just enjoy the best cuts of meat once in awhile, which usually is a lamb from a local butcher. And late in the evenings, instead of enjoying another glass of wine like we did in Europe, we boil a pot of tea and anxiously wait for the click of the kettle then smell each fresh loose leaf tea before picking a fragrant rooibos tea filled with floral and citrus scents.

Much has changed since the last time we lived in our flat. We’ve traveled the world, we’ve seen things and enjoyed experiences we never would have imagined. But one thing remains, no matter where we are, we love being home, together.

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carina - - 3:44 pm

I’m convinced that wherever the two of you are, being together is the best part :-) I wish you all the best in your new adventure and hope to meet again soon!

jamie delaine - - 9:20 pm

reno looks GORGEOUS.

Moshi, Zanzibar, & the Serengeti: we went to Africa.

With suitcases packed we began a trip of a lifetime. A flight from Seattle where we fly over the Rocky Mountains, the mid-west, all the way to the East coast and then catch another flight to take us across the Atlantic. We sail above the beautiful Sahara desert before landing in a beautiful and lush green country, Ethiopia. A quick stay we continue our journey south and look down onto Nairobi on our way. Before I can catch myself, tears well in my eyes just before we land in Moshi, Tanzania.

A trip that was fulfilling a lifelong dream, I finally step foot onto the continent of Africa. As we make our way off the tarmac I look at the sky and gasp, the clouds contain traces of the red soil and somehow cover the earth with a beautiful pink haze. The lush forest we had seen in Ethiopia has changed into the rocky desert I had expected to see and the air was thick and humid; it also tasted a bit of the African sand. I didn’t mind though, I wanted it to coat my face and body, I wanted it to seep into every pour it could find.

We spend a few hours acquainting ourselves with our lodging by going to meetings and enjoying some local beer before he fulfills a dream of his and I continued one of mine. For eight days we were separated while he hikes Mount Kilimanjaro with his dad and fellow friends, and I spent time enjoying the culture of Zanzibar.

For eight days he labours and put one foot in front of the other every single day. With the lack of oxygen he expected to struggle but the festivities at night’s end had him rested and ready to fulfill his desire to conquer the mountain to see the sun rise over the African plains.

While he hiked the mountain I wandered around Zanzibar with his mom. When we first entered the city I was hit with the thickest air I have ever experienced, but the smell of rich bold spices and home-cooked dishes enticed me to explore the city and all it had to offer. I desired to experience everything: the dark burka clothing along with the contrasting colourful garments wrapped around each woman, how small girls carry buckets on their heads and then the next girl would swiftly walk down the narrow streets with beautiful silk scarfs trailing behind her. While I soaked in all of these moments, my heart pulled towards the sounds of children. Their laughter, their small voices in conversation and singing, and their mismatched clothing covered in dust and spices. While we were on a roof terrace over looking the city I was told there was an orphanage near by. It took everything I had not drop everything I was doing and run towards it. I knew I needed to prepare myself for what could possibly be there. In the end, there was no need, it was abandoned and it broke me anyway.

We spent three days exploring the city on the island before a driver took us a few minutes up the road where I relaxed into a time of pampering, reading and reflection. The seaside resort swirled with humid thick air combined with the saltiness of the ocean that wafted up to the pyramid-thatched roof of the tree fort where I lazily spent my days. I sip on fresh mango juice and indulge on local Zanzibar pizza and rice mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin while watching the ocean sweep against the beach below me. I feel like I can never get enough of the flavours of the country and the beauty of the African sunset. Even though I pass the time peacefully my heart becomes restless being away from him. As I take one long walk along the sandy beach and watch the clouds from the tropical rains roll away, I look forward to my flight back to be reunited with him.

Together, and with his parents, we climb into a dark green jeep and bump along old gravel roads as we head into the desert; into the wild. We encounter a beautiful barren landscape where it feels like sometimes we have been sent to the moon instead of continuing our journey on Earth, but then we come upon paradise. The oasis is full of gorgeous lush greenery, aqua blue lakes, and exotic wild animals finding refuge. We travel for five days through Lake Manyara, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro crater and national park, and then Tarangire. We encounter so many animals that at first we’re gasping and stopping at anything that moves. And then eventually we stop and enjoy, linger as long as we want, over the animals that we truly want to see. So many elephants and lions that we keep our eyes peeled for leopards, rhinos, and buffalo so we can see the big five and happily smile each time we see one. We watch predators stalk their prey, mothers tend to their babes, and adult males fight just for the sake of fighting. We meet traditional Maasai tribes and find them loving, unbelievably friendly, and full of laughter – something that we didn’t consider being apart of a nomad lifestyle.

Each night as the sun goes down we head to our lodging and excitably discuss our favourite moments of the day. “When we could almost touch the elephant if we wanted to” or “when the leopard was directly beside us and we were the only ones there” or “how about when the lioness chased the herd of zebras and wildebeest!”

As our time in Africa came to a close I started to package up everything I possibly could into my memory. When we stepped onto the plane to make our 40 hour journey home I felt that the red soil had gone further than my pours and had mixed with blood. And when I reflected on that precious moment when we came across an orphanage to donate school supplies to, on the last evening on our safari, my heart expanded and collapsed both at the same time. A little boy with big dark brown eyes full of curiosity slipped his soft delicate hand into mine, and as he lead me around showing off his home he held his other hand in Adam’s. I realized that I had been born for that exact moment. Out of everything that I have ever done and experienced in my life, having his hand in mine was the most life changing experience.

It truly was, a trip of a lifetime.

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Carina - - 9:34 pm

This post leaves me speechless… So heartwarming!

Tanja - - 9:54 am

Oh Lesley.. what a touching story. Love the last image so much. xo

Venice, Milan, Lucerne, Geneva, Chamonix, Lyon, Marseille, Cannes, Monaco, Cinque Terre, Piza, Florence, Bolonga, Milan, Warsaw, and Krakow.

Plane tickets registered in our names and a few suitcases filled with our personal belongings, we left our dutch apartment feeling like living in Europe never happened. With our luggage safely stored in the plane below us we flew over the Alps and began another adventure, one we had dreamed about but didn’t know would happen all at once.

We landed in Venice, a place so similar to the land we just came from filled with old buildings and endless canals, we started our month long tour. We walked hand in hand skirting around other tourists trying to find shelter from them and the hot sun. We ducked into tiny streets just big enough for one person to go down at a time and found refuge in shade and small cafes where the cooks only knew Italian. We spent 24 beautiful hours touring and walking around Venice before we stepped onto a speeding train to take us to Milan.

We walked around Milan soaking up the architecture where we looked sky high to view all the tiny details of the Duomo and Galleria, enjoyed walking into haute couture fashion houses, and sipping on overly priced lattes to quench our thirst.  In between the tailor made suits and designer fashion I kept on willing myself to remember these moments. How when he intertwines his fingers in mine it makes my heart race, that with just a look he knows how much I want him, or how the light makes his eyes a shade of green that reminds me of a lake at springtime. After walking through the city streets we returned to our boutique hotel filled with white italian linen. We settled in by unpacking and slipping into the modern shower together to wash away the sweat of traveling. Skin against skin we held on to each other as the hot water washed over us, a welcome relief to both of us that there were no pressing issues to attend to but to just enjoy each other.

After spending a couple days wining and dining and enjoying all that Milan had to offer we journeyed to Lucerne in a plush white Italian sports car that whizzed us through the Alps. As we stood by the lake looking towards the mountains he pointed out places he remembered visiting before and told me stories of his first tour through Europe. With hungry stomachs, we hiked the side of a mountain and enjoyed an apéritif on a roof top terrace overlooking the city before we continued our journey west. As night started to fall we pulled up to an old flat where I was introduced to a French man who shared many stories of a time when he and Adam lived in Japan together. Geneva, surrounded by water tall mountains and fantastic food reminded me of Vancouver. We toured the city with the local and felt right at home in the lazy summer city.

Soon we said good-bye and see you soon before heading towards the French boarder. Before we crossed we spent the afternoon in cable cars mounting the most famous peak in the Alps, Mont Blanc. As the cold slowly left our body we found ourselves back in France where we were introduced to an amazing community of people who had gathered to celebrate a wedding. We prepared our gear and then for a day were swept up in the love and promise that vows are made under. Too soon we gathered our suitcases again and piled them into our car as we headed south to greet the Mediterranean ocean.

Desiring rest and time away from the sun, we spent moments curled under our blanket and then letting cool water stream over our bodies. We wandered around Marseille in the late evening and shared bottles of fine French wine and pasta filled with fresh seafood. We stood high above the shore and overlooked another city with red clay roofs and watched the azure ocean sweep it self against the boats below.

We then drove the coastal road towards Cannes where we spent three blissful days relaxing in the morning light on white sand beaches, sipping chilled rosé on our flat’s terrace, and falling asleep early to wake early to repeat it all again. Tourists and people with more money they know what to do with line the star studded streets and we feel completely at ease walking into the same stores and tanning on the same beaches. We people watch with lattes in our hands and see luxury vehicles pace the strip time and time again. We stop into real estate houses to look into luxury flats to rent in the future. We talk of returning and working remotely so we can spend days overlooking the beach and entertaining ourselves on oysters in the evening. Along the strip we point out designer and luxury items, and then, when the timing feels just right I walk away with a beautiful elegant, timeless and chic black leather hand bag I had been coveting for years. We purchase raspberry and crème brûlée macarons on our walk home to toast with.

We head back towards Italy where we spend his birthday walking along the coast line amongst cities built upon hills along the shore. When the sun becomes too much we dip into the Mediterranean where I sing him happy birthday between swells. We feast that evening on pasta dripping in tomato sauce and fresh mussels. We spend a day in Piza where we quickly take the obligatory photo and continue on our way to Florence where we instantly fall in love with the buildings.

We spend time admiring David and da Vinci, eating gelato out of cardboard bowls, and wander the city until we find the best latte in town. One evening we make our way through the darkened streets to a modern restaurant filled mood lighting and a white and grey interoir. He tells me he saw the interior and knew I would love in instantly, and I did. We are taken care of by the chef who takes takes great pride in his work and explain each dish on the menu and helps us pick which dish would be best for our pallet. We settle on a few items from the menu and also a few dishes that he requests to create just for us. We indulge, gasping with every bite over the flavours and his mastery at combining the perfect spices. Beef Tartar wrapped in a rice flour, white truffle oil dashed over linguine and seared mushrooms, a medium rare steak between fresh from the market portobello mushrooms, and a lamb over curried rice. We toast to another beautiful evening with dishes we would remember forever with Vin Santo then slip back into our hotel room where we quickly fall asleep with bellies full.

We drive to Bologna where we again take time to rest and slowly walk through the city. Even though the city is filled with people wanting to experience all it has to offer the locals have left to enjoy a holiday of their own. After dropping off our sporty car we catch another fast train back to Milan where we visit now familiar streets and cafes. When the night descends upon us we reorganize our luggage for our next part of our journey.

An early morning wake up call we take a plane from western europe to eastern europe where we are greeted with hugs and four kisses on the cheek. After over a year since we had seen his family last we spend time with his family in Warsaw before taking a train south to Krakow. With his mom as company we walk the old city square, visit an old salt mine with the largest underground cathedral, and then spend time in silence as we tried to understand what truly happened at Auschwitz.

When our last remaining moments with his family slowly come to a close we walk along the river bed preparing ourselves for the journey ahead where a season of living abroad ends and we return to a familiar life filled with dinners with family around and friends just down the street to call on. As we board the plane with memories of our month long tour and living in Europe trailing behind us, he slips his hand into mine and whispers “We did it, and it was amazing!”.

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lesley - - 7:37 am

Thank you Lily for continuing to come back; I will continue writing our journey for sure! :)

lc - - 2:51 pm

i have missed your posts.
i wonder if im crazy because reading this just made me tear up, literally.
please keep writing.

and then we moved.

In the course of when June gave way to July we ran our fingers over every inch of our apartment emptying cupboards, selling furniture, and packing boxes with the few possessions that we travel around the world with. In the evenings we’d meet up with friends and hug them saying we’d see them again, but mostly we’d pour a bottle of wine between the two of us and reflect on the time we had living in Europe. We’d sit across from each other, with me wrapped in a blanket to keep me warm in the summer evening, and say ” Remember when, or remember that time when we…” Over and over we’d bring up precious memories of travels, experiences, or moments that are now apart of a beautiful season of living abroad.

And then the time came where we sold the last of our furniture and we spent the last remaning days having picnics on our living room floor instead of a dinning room table, sent our belongings on a container headed for our next home, and then handed over the keys and walked hand in hand with a few suitcases trailing behind us.

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