The first time we seriously talked about making a trip back home I cried. It happened in Spain about five months ago now. Rob initiated the conversation, finally confronting the “giant elephant” that seemed to follow us everywhere at that point.
We were walking hand in hand along a busy seaside paseo, Mak was on a bike we had rented riding up and down the promenade careful not get too far ahead of us.
We strolled in silence for a while, then, as I was admiring the view, Rob said, “Trace, it’s time to seriously consider going home.”
The tapas and wine we had just enjoyed in town turned to stone in my gut and my face screwed up like a crumpled tissue. I didn’t make a sound, tears just started streaming down my face. When I could finally manage a breath I said, “I don’t want it to be over.”
We continued walking, not talking, with our arms around each other. When he arrived back at the villa, where we housesitting, we put Mak to bed and opened a bottle of Spanish Rioja.
Then drank said bottle and opened another.
We didn’t want to go home, but money was getting tight, very tight. Rob and I had been working and feverishly seeking more work online, but our upcoming hectic travel schedule threatened to put us at the breaking point. Moving around a lot makes work more challenging; homeschooling, meeting new homeowners for our housesitting assignments and getting to know a new destination all eat into working hours.
The time had come to evaluate, and the person in our family who always knows the right time for evaluation is Rob. Rob’s the planner, I’m the manager, and Makai is our inspiration, we are a team. We rely on each others strengths to make the right decisions for our family. And where Robs statement struck me like a blow to my chest, I knew he was right, it was almost time to visit home.
Trust is paramount in a marriage, but it feels even a little bit more imperative when you live most of your life in constantly new territory. Rob always says “Words have meaning” in other words don’t say what you don’t mean. Knowing my Husband as well as I do, I knew he meant were going to run out of road, so to speak. Not right away, but soon.
That was back in July. At the time, we were committed to nine weeks of house sitting in the UK after our assignment in Spain. Rob, the planner, broached the subject that night to give me enough lead-time to get right with it.
The truth is we needed time in one place to launch a business we had been working on, we still had a bunch of stuff in Mom and Dad’s basement we were now ready to part with, and I needed to see my Mom, she’s in her eighties.
I had nine weeks to work out the pit in my stomach and push through the fear I felt about coming home. I resolved to find a strategy to keep me from totally freaking out. Definitely easier said than done, I went through a whole host of ugly feelings after that and we hadn’t even set foot on Canadian soil yet! I came out the other side almost prepared, and in a pretty positive frame of mind before we arrived back home.
I had read a lot about reverse culture shock on blogs I follow so I felt prepared for the different stages we would experience while we were home. What I wasn’t prepared for was the depression and crazy delusions I experienced long before we were to board the plane. I thought things like, we’ll go back and never leave, I’ll go back to work and get comfortable and we’ll never leave, something sinister will prevent us from leaving!
As crazy thoughts cycled through my mind, I felt my determination to keep traveling getting weaker and weaker. I worried friends, family; people, in general, would stage an intervention, pick apart our lifestyle, and prevent us from carrying on with the amazing life we now knew. I started to doubt, to fear, and to freak out!
When I was much younger I used to fear change and new experiences. Fear, doubt, and freaking out were common occurrences every time Rob and I decided to make a change in our lives. Looking back, I can see how different I am, I feel energized by change and new experiences now, a liberating feeling of freedom. Somehow, I started to think going home threatened our freedom somehow.
I had read a quote “There is only one success, to be able to live life in your own way”. I truly believe that, and focusing on that quote helped me realize no one was going to lock us up when we got home or prevent us from leaving again. We are the only people who have the power to prevent us from traveling.
So we’re home, feeling like fish out of water. Calgary looks almost the same, but it feels really different. Everything on T.V. is focused on shopping and giant bundles of sale flyers land on the doorstep every day. There seem to be a lot more local violence and unemployment.So many things seem to cost more. I feel like I’m waiting for something to happen. When I try to explain how we live to new people we meet they look at me like I’m from Mars. Although I think meeting new people and finding ways to connect with like-minded people has really helped us deal with reverse culture shock better.
We searched for travel events happening in Calgary and were lucky to find one hosted by two of our favorite long-term travelers, Pete and Dalene Heck. The event was through Travel Massive, a site committed to connecting travelers in cities around the globe. It was awesome to hear more about Pete and Dalene’s travel experiences, they’ve been on the road since 2009! We’ve followed their journey since 2010 and had the pleasure of meeting them the first time about a month before we left to travel. It was like kismet to get to meet them again, shortly after arriving home. Both times it was so comforting to hear about their incredible journey and how they’ve dealt with the challenges of long-term travel. We also approached our local tourism board, Visit Calgary to remain tourists in our home town.
Doing new and different things at home has become our new comfort zone. We’ve been back for five weeks now and have about eight more to go until we’re on the road again. The focus is on business and staying in touch with our feelings. We don’t know what the next two months holds for us, but I just can’t help feeling we’ll hit a wall at some point. I have had one re-entry freak out before we arrived home. Now I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.