I’m still processing the year of adventure, travel and personal growth that we have experienced and if asked to say where I am on the spectrum of reflection, I’d say something like “barely scratched the surface” or “merely the tip of the iceberg.” I think that our year (or to be precise, 11 months) away was the adventure of a lifetime and yet I still feel like it’s a story that is unfinished. I still feel that tug to go travel again, to (*gasp*) live on the boat again, to see and do more. The world is a huge place, there is so much to see and experience and I feel like the year only scratched the itch. Yet, I also feel like this break, or “return to reality,” as many folks have coined it, is also necessary for our tribe. A return to a sense of normalcy is a good thing. It gives us all time to reflect, think, process and most importantly to me, integrate everything we learned while we were gone into our lives here at home.
And this is something DH and I struggle with constantly. DH says we are like fish swimming upstream. From the simplest things like grocery shopping to the bigger life changes like moving back into our oversized home, buying a car and going back to work (for DH)… we constantly struggle with the push and pull of American life and the norms that we rarely had to face or deal with when we lived abroad.
I have so many more things to say on this topic and many ideas that are not fully mature, but I will leave you with two things while I mentally masticate (to borrow an awesome phrase from a friend) on this yearlong adventure and put pen to paper (so to speak):
- People often ask “Did you have fun on your vacation? You guys are so *lucky* you got to do that!” I am still figuring out how to respond to this inquiry in a way that is true to what we experienced and yet not glib or bratty. First, it depends on how the person asks me this. We have fielded that question in a tone that infers “You guys must be hella rich because who the heck can afford not to work for a year and travel/sail the world?! Must be nice to be you!” With these people, I just smile nicely and bite my tongue, typically responding with something like “It was a great experience. There was good, bad, beautiful and ugly.” And then kindly try to end the conversation and get the hell out of dodge. Because my gut wants to scream out “IT WAS NOT A VACATION!!” Like seriously. It was NOT. And secondly, we worked really hard for a long time to make this whole dream happen–AND SO CAN YOU. What we did was amazing and we *are* lucky to have experienced it, but guess what? We aren’t rich, we aren’t particularly special in any regard, we just DECIDED that we needed to do this and MADE IT HAPPEN. My husband is a dreamer and I’m a doer. I make shit happen. And if you really want something, you CAN and you WILL figure out a way to make it happen. We faced an extremely scary and difficult time for our family almost 5 years ago and that made shit *real*. And after that we decided to do the things now, while we are young enough to enjoy them with our kids, and not wait for a future that no one really knows they will have. And THAT is the truth. What I want to tell these folks is, “It was not a m-f’ing vacation and if you spent a week with us on that year away, you’d sure as shit have seen that. And if you want to be “lucky” like us, then do it! *Make it happen*” We decided that we didn’t want to wish we had the adventures or waited for the “right time” because there never is a right time. The time is now and now is the only time you KNOW you have. So take it. Make the leap of faith and have faith in yourself and your family because you WILL land on your feet. You’ll never regret having done “the things.” We took that leap of faith and guess what? It was the best experience of my life, even with all the shitshows we endured. We aren’t completely back to “regular” life but we are also formulating a new version of what normal will be for us. We’ve learned and grown so much and *that was the point*
- (Stepping off my soapbox now…..) And now I’ll leave you with this. When asked how we are re-acclimating to life in the US after living in Mexico and Europe, I really want to just hold up this picture. Because really. This says it all.