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Just a Map

Eighteen months ago I sat with a family member in a cafe. “I’ve got this idea” I said “I want to take a trip but it’s a bit crazy” She listened while I told her of my dream and then all the reasons I was worried it wouldn’t be possible. “I want to take the kids out of school to take a two month road trip to Scotland. I want them to see the UK, I want to drive from home so they can see how our beautiful landscape fits together.” I was clear on so many things and yet others were too overwhelming to work out. “We’ll buy a camper-van, or hired one or buy a caravan or hire one of those, I don’t know? We can’t afford any of that anyway!” I continued “I want the kids and Mike to see the mountains in Scotland. They take your breath away, I want them to feel that. I want to make this trip accessible, to show people, other families that they can do this too, that they can have a real adventure right here in the UK without getting on a plane." She was very patient. She listened. For her part she was facing some of the darkest hours a woman can face, carrying a lot of pain but she listened. “I want to buy a massive map” I said “Put it on the wall, so the kids can see it, so they can help us plan a route. I want them to see how far we could travel and all the place names and the winding nature of the journey” So it was I set the scene and then I listed all of the reasons we couldn’t do it. “We don’t have the money, how would we cover our mortgage? What would the school say? I am a Governor for goodness sake! Would my parents think I was mad? Would Mikes parents think we were terrible parents? Naive, selfish, crazy? How would it affect his successful career taking this kind of a break? Would he still have people falling over themselves to work with him on our return or would they move on? I would have to put my business on hold, my clients might find another Forest School. THERE WOULD BE SO MUCH TO ORGANISE! But above all Mike finds it hard when I talk about this dream. He knows he would love it but these problems are too hard for him to see past for now. He works so hard, he has no space in his head for my whimsical ideas.” Despite how it seems we didn’t linger on any of this. I just told her my dream and my anxieties and she didn’t try to fix any of it. As I didn’t when she told me of her heartache and heartbreak trying to conceive. My silly idea seeming so insignificant. She was heading off on a journey of her own. Taking some time to heal after years of agony. It wasn’t negotiable for her, It was necessary. A journey to find some relief and peace from the hell of infertility. Our meeting was a goodbye as she set sail for calmer, foreign shores. Back then my own trip seemed tiny in comparison yet still insurmountable and unachievable. I never imagined I would actually be sitting on a Scottish hill side writing this and we would actually be doing it but here we are. Among many kind and supportive others I know we have my dinner date from all that time ago to thank. As we walked out of the restaurant into the London sunshine, hugged and turned our separate ways she called to me “Buy that map, it’s just a map! Where is the harm in having a map?” She was so right. A few weeks later I bought one and stuck it on the wall. It was just a map but it held the tiny promise of so many things. I didn’t discuss the idea or push the matter I just left it there. Stuck on the wall. Over the months we would look at place names and I think seeing the whole of the UK in front of us like that made it seem accessible. Eventually, slowly we started to have ideas, to feel excited, to feel this might be possible and if nothing else it was something we could dream about it. An epic adventure. So this is for her. To say thank you. Dearest GP in all your heartache thank you for still finding a way for me to make a dream for my family come true. It was “just a map” but in the end it was so much more. x

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