Coming home? My emotions are all over the map.
Strangers In A Strange Land
It’s bittersweet returning to the home that my parents built 40 years ago and to not have them here to greet us. Despite the fact that they almost drove me crazy the last couple of years of their lives, I miss them. This is our first homecoming after losing them both in less than a year. I still expected to see Mom and Dad rushing (or in the last few years, tottering) out to greet us with hugs and kisses as we pulled into the driveway, ready for happy hour on the porch and watching the sunset together over the bay.
Returning to what is now our home, I feel somewhat disoriented. We never imagined that we would live in Florida. Never in a million years did we think that we would be living in my parents’ home. Never in a million years did we think we would sell our home in Southern Oregon. We’re still adjusting to our new reality.
And this was our first trip that officially puts us into the category of ‘part-time travelers,’ after seven-and-a-half years of full-time travel.
More Than One Way To Live A Life
Traveling again naturally brings up the question of how much we want to travel. We’re not in complete agreement about that. Scratching the travel itch for me is like scratching a mosquito bite. It just makes me itch to travel more.
Eric, though, is certain that he’s done with full-time traveling. He’s really liking being settled down, and much to my everlasting amazement, he’s liking being settled down in Florida. He loves the birding, the biking, the abundant wildlife, and living on the bay, with the beautiful sunsets that come along with our location.
I enjoy those things, too. But I’m not done traveling, and knowing that we’re closing the chapter on our full-time travels is hard for me to accept. We always knew that we weren’t going to travel full-time forever, but our traveling lifestyle definitely met an early demise because of the pandemic. I think I can be happy traveling part-time, but I still want to make long trips of at least several months every year. Eric is less certain of how long he wants to be away from home.
I think—WAIT a minute!! There’s still so much we haven’t seen! And this is the first time in eight years that we are completely free, with no commitments to parental care in Florida, camp hosting on Lopez Island, or checking in on our former home in Southern Oregon.
I’ve always felt that we were fortunate not only in having the freedom to travel, but fortunate in that we both embraced this lifestyle. Living in a box-on-wheels for years at a time, with the challenges inherent in a traveling life, is not for everyone. But all I have to do is scroll back through our blog, or glance at our photo gallery, and I’m reminded of all that we’ve seen and done. We wouldn’t have done near as much had we not embarked on this lifestyle. And I’m deeply grateful. At the same time, I’m feeling regretful about the things we’ve not yet experienced—Glacier, Teton National Park, the Canadian Rockies, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, for example. We always figured that we could easily pick up the places we missed on a future trip.
Some of those things are now thousands of miles away, and will be more challenging to do now that we’re not full-timing. It’s a simple life lesson: Don’t skip stuff thinking that you’re going to get back to it someday. Because you might not.
Actually, that’s good advice for life in general, isn’t it? Which brings me to my next random philosophical musing.
The Benefits Of Being At Home
Eric is happy about returning to his daily biking routine, visiting his favorite birding spots, and adding to his bird and bay photo collection.
Magnolia is thrilled to have her screened porch, her deluxe cat tree for observing the birds, and a spacious house for playing our daily game of Chase the Cat, which she taught us and she ADORES. Here are the rules, according to Magnolia: Kitty hides in the bedroom and meows. We come looking for the kitty, calling out “Where’s the kitty? Is there a kitty cat in here?” If we use a scary monster voice, all the better. Kitty pounces on us and takes off running through the house, with us in hot pursuit. Repeat, over and over and over…
Magnolia turned out to be a very good traveler. But playing Chase the Cat in the trailer was nowhere near as much fun for her as it is playing it in the house.
So I’m apparently outvoted on the desire to be at home, two to one. Honestly, I’m not sure if I still want to travel full-time, or if it’s just that I don’t want that option to to be in my rear view mirror. There are many benefits to being at home, and to being in one place for a while. When we’re traveling, I’m absorbed in exploring a new environment, and consumed with planning our travels.
Which brings me back to my thoughts about not putting stuff off. That applies to more than just travel.
Being at home, I have the opportunity to resume the activities that fall by the wayside when we’re traveling. I’m looking forward to sketching and painting, playing my guitar, and my yoga practice. We’re both looking forward to seeing friends, and to participating in some of the local activities that were put on hold during the worst of the pandemic. These are all things that we miss out on when we’re continually traveling.
BUT. I am not giving up on our travels. I can be very persuasive, LOL. Me: “So, are you telling me you want to be in Florida when the temps are 80-90 degrees with matching humidity?” Eric: “No!” Me: “So, that means we need to be away from June until sometime in October, right?” Eric, immersed in recording his bird sightings on eBird: “Uh-huh.”
That’s good enough for me to start planning our Michigan/Minnesota/Wisconsin trip for next summer. That’s at least a four-month trip, but don’t tell him. He’ll be happy to be away when the heat descends in June. And we already know that Miss Magnolia is a fine little traveler, even if she has to play an abbreviated version of Chase the Cat.