This translates into the simple phrase: “I don’t want to leave Paris.” After 86 cities, 43 flights, and roughly 228 days on the move, we decided to spend 34 days parked in one place. We lived out of closets instead of suitcases, cooked meals for ourselves, rode the Metro and Velibs instead of airplanes. Mark had lived in Paris when he was 19 and from that moment forward he always felt at home there. Now, after our monthlong sojourn, the whole family feels the exact same way.But in the end, the road beckons and we’re packed up and on the move again. We rented a car and put Paris in our rearview mirror. Now we begin counting the days until our return.
While in Paris, we had the time and opportunity to wander through museums with our drawing pads and colored pencils, trying our hand at imitating the Masters. See if you can guess which family member drew which sketch below (clockwise from top left). [UPDATE: The answer to “who drew what” can be found in the comments section.]
This was also the perfect setting for Finn to work on a series of experimental short films involving a wooden artist’s hand, its escape from our apartment and its adventures around Paris. Please enjoy his soon-to-be-classic “Film #7: Shake Hands With Danger” — a labor of love from Finn Flackett-Levin.
Even though we’ve been away from home for ten months, the internet keeps us tethered to our once and future lives. Back in Los Angeles, the community of our children’s school is the center of our family’s life. Westland School is a remarkable place and its progressive educational philosophy was one of the inspirations for our trip. In the past few months, we’ve learned of the struggles another Westland family has been dealing with. Our friend Neil Bagg, father of two kids, a boy and a girl, just about the same age difference as Franny and Finn, has been diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). We know from personal experience how terrible this disease can be and the strain it can put on a family, both emotionally and financially. The Westland Community is now spearheading a fundraiser to help Neil Bagg’s family afford a wheelchair-accessible van — and we, in our small way, want to spread the word to the community of A Year To Think. Please take a moment and click here to learn more about Neil’s Wheels and the movement to “give forward” and help a family in need.
As we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel of our journey around the world (three months to go and savoring every minute), the Westland School community is one of the things we are looking forward to most. The school is a bastion of normality and good values on the westside of Los Angeles. Last year, we made a short film for the school to share its vision with prospective families (the beginning of our short movie habit). Here’s the film we made called “This Is Westland” where we attempt to answer the question “What is progressive education?”Our journey has been the greatest field trip we could imagine, the ultimate progressive learning experience. But no matter how far away we are, we remember the importance of feeling connected to a community. While we are across the world, our thoughts and our hearts are with Neil Bagg and his family — and we look forward to the mobility that he will regain with the campaign for Neil’s Wheels.
What kind of family would abandon their lives to discover the world? Well, it turns out that at any given moment, there are actually hundreds of families doing just that. We hear occasional stories about other families that are out on the road — and early in our journey, we would glance at other blogs to see if our paths might intersect with any of these like-minded wanderers. Then, while we were in Paris, a chance conversation with an old colleague led us to another family named the Kessels, who are also traveling the world this year. It just so happened that for one day, our itineraries overlapped and we got together, singing the praises of packing cubes, comparing strategies for getting around airline carry-on allotments, and talking about our shared trepidation for reacclimatizing to “normal life.” Every family traveling the world is different, but it turns out, not that different.If you want to learn more about the journey of the Kessel-Bushnells, you can find their blog @ www.kesseltravels.blogspot.com.
We’ve slept on the wooden floors of floating houses in Cambodia, shared cramped hotel rooms in Peru, shivered in freezing tents in the Sahara, and slept four to a train compartment in China. But for one month, we traded the lives of Nomads for the lives of Parisians. And what an incredible place in Paris we found! Never has an apartment been such an important character in our journey. Through sheer determination, we scoured airbnb.com and vrbo.com (and several more obscure sites) looking for a place to call home for an entire month. In the 10th arrondissement, on the very happening Canal St. Martin, we got lucky. Check out what we found. If the owner would have allowed us, we’d have stayed forever.
What does it mean to be “lifelong friends”? Well, Franny, Finn, Charlie and Sam bring literal meaning to the phrase. They met one another within 48 hours of each other’s birth — a consequence of the close friendship of their parents, Mark, Jen, P.K. and Beth. Now half a generation later, the Flackett-Levin family is off wandering the planet while the Colt-Simonds family has settled comfortably in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. For one week in Paris (which flew by as if it were a day), the four young compatriots got the chance to pick up right where they left off, laughing, playing, creating shows — and we get a short meditation on the true meaning of “lifelong friendship” from four bonafide practitioners.
In Montmartre, Paris, a work of art springs to life from a blank page, and the process is captured in a single uninterrupted shot.
Here’s what you have to know about these two cities spilt by the Danube: Buda is home to castles, museums, and rich history. Pest is home to bookstores, bars, hotels, and coffee shops. In other words, Buda is a nice place to visit, but we’d want to live in Pest. And truth be told, Budapest is such a lively, happening city, pulsating with the energy of a recently liberated society that we could actually envision living there. We were there for three days as the city was held in the last fierce grip of winter with stinging winds blowing along the Danube — but you could still sense the vitality of the city. There are artists, young people, movies being made there, the streets pulse with creativity and life. For a city with a deeply tortured history in the 20th Century — held under the steel boot of the Nazis, then the Soviet Union — we found the place to be like a teenager bursting into adulthood, full of potential and fun, a city finding its new dynamic voice in the 21st Century.
There’s nothing like cooking at home with friends. Even if the home is rented through airbnb and the friends are brand new. The feeling of making your own food and sharing it around your own table and laughing is one of the best in the world.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, please enjoy these four million words about the great Czech capital wrapped up in a neat little four minute package.