Well, I figured New Years is a great time to update you on Tom and I and our life after traveling abroad. And since it is now almost Valentine’s Day you can probably guess that “stop procrastinating” was not one of my New Year’s Resolutions.
Anyway, we have been back in the States for just over 5 months now and every week, we seem to relive our last year. Conversations often start with “last year at this time, we were…” And if I were to complete that sentence this week, I’d tell you we were hiking hiking around Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia (probably my favorite part of our entire trip!). Talk about nostalgia!
As you can imagine, this can get a little depressing week after week, and it did, so we decided we must do something about this.
We can’t keep living in the past. Don’t get me wrong. Memories are great. They are one of the few things we can carry with us anywhere. They teach us lessons, act as reminders, and allow us to instantly re-feel emotions, both good and bad. They are strong and powerful, but so are dreams.
And as my dad preached over and over again while I was growing up, “if your memories are more exciting than your dreams, you have begun to die.” Well, I think we are in for a challenge because Tom and I set a pretty high bar this past year with all the exciting memories we created:
Walking the Camino De Santiago, hiking through Patagonia, sipping wine in Mendoza, exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, learning to make ceviche with a local friend in the small fishing town of Huanchaco, acting as extras on a Dutch TV documentary about French wine in Bordeaux, befriending cats in Istanbul, ice climbing on glaciers, swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos, riding motorbikes in the hills of Colombia, and floating by caimans on inner tubes in the wild. The list just goes on and on.
And then, last fall, we came home. It felt great at first. Hugs and kisses all around. The nieces and nephews all looked older. Some are even driving now! We pulled a few boxes from storage and found some old clothes that felt like new again. We laid down in the comfort of our own bed and unpacked our bags for the first time in over a year. We felt pretty good about our return.
Then week two rolled around. It began to set in that we just traded our worldwide explorations for life in the California suburbs, sig alerts, and living with our parents.
Don’t get me wrong. We love our parents and we are so grateful they took us in when we were jobless and homeless and trying to figure out life after travels. But at the end of the day when you are 29 and 31 and have been married for 8 years, living with your parents is a good bit less than ideal.
And although people and places were familiar, it didn't even feel like “home” anymore. You see, after you learn to make “home” wherever you are, your true “home” loses all of its power. There is no longer anything sacred about it. It’s just another place that can be…or not be…home for you at any given moment.
To be honest, coming home was more of an adjustment than we had anticipated. People think that quitting your job and leaving to travel for a year is brave. Let me tell you, that is the easy part. Coming home and trying to rebuild a life after you just lived a life’s worth of experiences in one year is so much harder.
Each morning, we opened our Facebook to see amazing photos posted by all the new friends we met on our trip that were still out traveling. Jealous doesn’t even begin to describe it. All we could think about was how could get back out there!
So we did squeeze in a few trips here in the States to visit friends and curb our craving a bit. Travel is like a drug and we couldn’t quit cold turkey.
But, at the end of the day, we knew we needed to work again. Our money wouldn’t last forever and to be honest we were really itching to work again. We’re too young to live the retired life.
However, since we get the opportunity to start from scratch, we decided that we do NOT want to return to our old "status quo," “keep up with the jones',’” and “live to work” lifestyle, even though the pull was (and is) strong. So we decided to be more intentional about thinking about how we want live life now. How can we top our previous year? How can we make our dreams more exciting than those memories?
Well, we don’t really have an answer for you just yet. Sorry to disappoint. But we are working on it and we do have some ideas. You are invited to join us on this new journey.
Tom has taken on a new job implementing global corporate changes that (cross our fingers) will lead to the opportunity for more travel. We have moved to San Diego and found a place to live that allows me to walk to everything I need with no need to even move my car for weeks on end (which is what I miss about traveling and living in big cities around the world). And I’m starting up my own business, which is giving me cause for some big dreams of my own (including the freedom to travel with Tom and work from the road).
Our current situation has become much more certain in the past few weeks (very unlike the previous 5 months of complete ambiguity which is probably the underlying reason I put off writing this blog post). But there is still a lot more to do in order to re-establish our post-sabbatical lives.
I’m excited to see how it will all play out, because as we work to rebuild our lives this year, we have three words that continue to come to mind…adventure, stewardship, and generosity.
We’re working to build our post-travels life around these three themes. And I sure hope that next February I’ll be sitting here writing my belated New Years blog post recapping for you the surprising ways our new life reflected these three themes over the course of 2015. Adventure…Stewardship…Generosity. Let’s do this.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!