With WanderingDawn away on a much different adventure this week, I’ve been left here at home to proceed with normal life.
Sitting here I realized “Holy Normal Life! I’ve been home for a year already!” Which means I should have some answers to the big blank questions most people have when they decide to uproot their lives and travel long term.
The biggest one, the one that keeps people rooted, is: What about work? My typical smart-ass response before I left was “What about it? Will it be all done by the time I get back? Whew..”
Truthfully I had no idea what I was going to do when I got back, if I even wanted to continue on the same career path, or if we would even come back. I did know I needed time to unplug from the daily grind and get some perspective, and I felt strongly enough about it to move forward with the seemingly insane idea of walking away from everything. Looking back now it was the only sane thing to do.
And guess what? Yes, I am back to work. Why you guys didn’t finish the job while I was gone is beyond me so I figured I’d lend a hand. I’ve made a slight adjustment to the career track and I am very happy with the choice. I’m also extremely thankful it came rather easily considering the state of the economy when we walked back in the door of the good ol’ US of A.
I almost felt like this guy. I kid of course.
Which leads me to another question: What will life like be after the trip? Answer: Like it was before, but different. Or as WD likes to quip “Same Same, But Different”. We took this journey like most anyone would, for the life changing experience. There is no doubt it did change us, but not as we would have expected.
I still feel as if we just got home a short time ago. But, in that “short time” we’ve both gone back to work, I saw my baby sister get married, we got a dog (who keeps dropping his slimy ball in my lap as I try to type this), I gained back the 20 lbs I lost on the road, we bought a house, I received my black belt after 10 years of training, moved my aging grandparents into assisted living, met babies that didn’t exist when we left… and the life list goes on.
Reality is, coming back to the US we were the slow old couple on the entrance ramp to the freeway. Now I look down and realize we are doing 90 in the fast lane and beeping at the car in front of us. Life moves fast with or without you and I found my lead foot came back without realizing it.
Yet, I don’t feel the level of stress I did before. I have a bit more trust things will work out. I enjoy the daily routine of life at home that almost felt like trap and crushing burden before we went. The trip, to me, confirmed just how good we have it here it at home.
I thought when we first returned I would be full of excitement to see old friends and share stories of our lives on the road. Instead, I learned how little I do know about the world. I felt like seeing old friends I would be expected to sum up the last incredibly intense 18 months of my life into a three minute news sound bite before their attention wavered. Share some great bit of enlightenment without sounding like a pompous ass: ”Well, when we were in ____…”
No, not my style. I don’t have answers, only more confusion and questions. Instead I hid out and enjoyed the creature comforts of my own bed, a full fridge, my coffee machine, and a closet full of clean clothes.
Things you take for granted in daily life feel like extreme luxury after being away from them for so long. Not knowing where you will sleep each night, when you’ll get the chance to wash the 3 pairs of clothes you have… all part of travel but it does get tiresome after a while. I love eating out as much as anyone else, but doing it nearly every day for so long the appeal fades.
So, I was slow to come out of the traveler’s shell I had built around me. Going to the store or turning on the TV was like having someone screaming in my face-pure sensory overload. Time away made me realize how strongly news and marketing play on our fears. It’s a ridiculous circus act to keep us spending, ignorant, and fearful. I try to spare myself the drama and do much less shopping and sitting in front of the tube now.
Other habits I acquired on the road have thankfully faded. One day I picked up a t-shirt off the bed and WD caught me sniffing it. ”You don’t have to do that anymore.” She said. ”Uh.. I was.. uh.. right.” I stammered before we both busted out laughing. Old habits die hard.
The one year mark saddens me in a way. Now it officially seems like the end of the adventure. We’ve played a game all year trading “this time last year we were in ____” comments but now that’s over. It seemed as if we were still traveling by pointing out these moments in time. We’ve even been fortunate enough to have friends from the road visit us and we’ll be doing the same next month but more on that next time. For now, the big adventure is complete and where we are now is our life. Our life’s adventure is just fine too.