“You were that inexplicable thing that was missing from my life. And so it comes full circle… For now you are again.” -Ranata Suzuki
We felt like we were in a dream state. We were sitting in De Lachende Javaan (The Laughing Javan) Restaurant in Haarlem, The Netherlands, as Indonesian scents swirled around us. Sandwiched between our children were our dear friends from the USA who also happened to be our landlords and neighbors during the pandemic.
We met them when we were a bit stressed. The pandemic was in full swing and our nomadic life was on hold. Our close friends (Thank you Kevin and Jenny!), mentioned the house across the street from them may be for rent although it wasn’t listed. One thing led to another and we met Julie and Phil. We were all masked and distanced and it was hard to get a read for one another until the subject of Indonesian food came up when talking about our travels. Our kids started rattling off their favorite dishes from our time in Indonesia, nasi goreng, gado gado, and so before we knew it, an hour had passed and we found ourselves a safe beautiful home complete with the best neighbors in the world.
Over the fence, throughout the pandemic, we would talk about how someday, we would all meet in The Netherlands at Phil and Julie’s favorite Indonesian Restaurant. It seemed just barely possible to even dream up such a scene in the height of lockdown and yet… the barely possible dreams are the ones that sustain us.
As we sat around the table this past September and rijsttafel (an Indo-European melting pot of dishes served family style) was being laid out like a beautiful offering before our very eyes, other full circle moments from this year came bubbling up with the aromas of ayam mentega and tahu telor satiating our senses.
We thought of the Gossett family we first met in a virtual Worldschooling community years ago. We ended up being neighbors in Bellingham, Washington, until we set off traveling again in 2021. The friendships sustained us all during lockdowns as our connections deepened over sharing tales of travels to far-off lands during socially distanced pizza parties. We thankfully intersected with them in Delft, Holland this summer to the delight of our children who all love each other dearly.
We thought of the Master’s Family. We partnered with them in 2016 to do a travel writing collaboration for their company Rental Retreats. Our experience with them sparked a lifelong friendship. Seeing them again this fall and staying in one of their stunning vacation rentals was something we often wished for during the pandemic. They cooked us the most beautifully indulgent roasted duck dinner finished with a decadent blanched pear dessert. As we looked around their table in the hills above the crashing Atlantic in Central Portugal, our kids, now young adults sitting around the table with us versus playing under it, we pinched ourselves that this was truly happening.
We thought of Frank and Richard, adopted uncles we met while living in Portugal in 2016. The kids met Richard and his dog Gomez on the beach one day and he invited us to dinner in the Portuguese countryside at a wonderful family-owned restaurant called Solar dos Amigos. One of our reasons for returning to Portugal this year was to visit as Richard was having some health issues and we wanted to hug him. We were devastated to learn Richard passed away just weeks before our arrival in Portugal. We took Frank back to the restaurant where we first met and shared memories as our dinner roasted over the open fire. It was magical and Richard’s spirit was with us that evening. We are so thankful for every moment we have spent with both of them.
We thought of Ron’s dad Gene’s passing this Spring as his birthday approached in September and we didn’t know how we would feel close to him being so far from home. We were on a whirlwind work assignment through The Netherlands. We stopped in our tracks as we entered the resort we would be staying over what would have been Gene’s birthday weekend. Right before our eyes was the sweetest duckpin bowling alley we have ever seen and the only one we have ever come across in ten years as a nomadic family. Gene played duckpin every week for most of his life and we knew this was our way of celebrating his heavenly birthday.
Does coming full circle mean ending up in the same place we were before? Not to us. It means intersecting with the same people from a very different vantage points that could only be possible by going the long way around.
Full circle moments are alive with connection because they would never happen if people weren’t at the center of the experience. Thank you for the moments we shared and thank you to those that have passed on for your presence in our lives… What we learned this summer, perhaps more profoundly than ever before is that we must pay attention to, document, and savor all full circle moments in order to ensure we will meet in the future, “And so it comes full circle… For now you are again”.
As we laughed and ate and even sang around the rijsttafel table in The Netherlands, we made a family pact to forever collect full circle moments as if our life depended on them, because in many ways, it does.