Last week was booked off work for a little holiday with my kids. There were many activities from swimming to fun fairs to cycling - a great week for a father to enjoy some time with his kids. It is hardly unusual these days for a child's parents to be separated or divorced and most severed couples can come to an agreement about the children. For them, to see both parents, or rather, to receive the love of both parents can only be a good thing.
And does an adult need a family? What happens when a man walks out into the world alone? When a man ventures out and lives in foreign lands and learns foreign languages and adapts to foreign cultures - does he leave his family behind and become something else? Twenty years ago I got on a plane and left everything I knew behind. And if I can look back through those years I can see the narrative of the black sheep learning something of the world and learning something about himself. And if there was a fair bit of heart ache along the way there was also some brilliance a bit like seeing bats flittering around a tree.
The bats really did fly in circles around the heat of the massive fire our eldest uncle created when he set match to cardboard to leaves and wood. After seven long years I took my two kids to see cousins and aunts and various relatives from my father's side. So too did my youngest sister fly from the other half of the world to meet up in the New Forest in a house with a huge garden. Thus it was a couple of days where family got together and swam in a river of memories and enjoyed the company of kin.
There was no way I was anything like an insider here in this pool of shared genes and nor was I an outsider. I kept my counsel as is appropriate and held my head high and shared with the family some of my life experiences and listened as the dark passages of time illuminated with the story of their lives. The uncle that toiled hard and created for himself this huge house and garden in the forest. The sister with her little girl who spun the hoola hoop effortlessly. The middle sister always in the middle, with her son that burst the balloon. The cousins that sat at their sewing machines creating what their minds imagined. All these relatives building for themselves a place on this planet worthy to be called a home. I held no feeling of embarrasment or envy for being the homeless one amongst this clan of high achievers. Like the expeditioner I had simply decided to take my eyes away from the man in front so that a different horizon became my destination.
When this nomad got back into his old van and began his journey back to his caravan on the field - a tear or two was given to the severed familial ties and to the lost world that had temporarily came into the focus of his consciousness. And so too did he laugh at his lot and the absurdity of his life. If he pledged anything to the future it was to recognise and maintain what he had become but also to include in his list of camping sites the driveways of those who would choose to host this man with his rusty old van.