Return To So Called Normal
One of the things that I like reading on a travel blog are the updates people write once they get home. I think that coming home is as much a part of the journey as the planning and the traveling was and I like hearing how people adjust back into their ‘normal’ lives.
It seems to be about half and half as to whether a blog will post back-at-home updates or not. Some travel blogs don’t even make it to the end of the journey, petering out and leaving me hanging as to what’s happening. I understand, of course, that blogging while traveling can be difficult but I feel connected to these people somehow and I want to know how they are doing and so, even though I have subscribed to their RSS feeds, I continually check their sites to ensure I haven’t missed an update (I’m talking to you RunningTowards and WhereAreLizAndAdrian).
I have always planned on writing post-trip updates and, although it seems mundane to write about my normal life now, it will make me really reflect on how I’m feeling as we settle in and the trip becomes more memory than reality. I think what I’ll do is intersperse back-at-home updates with some other trip related posts that I still have in mind (gear reviews, budget wrap up etc) – that’ll be a good mix of how-is-Gillian-feeling vs end-of-the-trip tales…and Paula and Diane W can stop worrying that there won’t be any more posts. 😉
We’ve been back in Canada for 3 weeks already and our reactions have been mixed. The first two weeks were buffered by visiting with family where we had a chance to catch up, meet new members of the family (hi Matt and Karen!), eat all our favorites (thanks Ma and Mom!), and slowly adjust to being back in North American culture.
And so we are ‘home’ now and have been for just over a week. It’s not really ‘home’ though as we are in a furnished apartment and are, once again, surrounded by stuff that’s not ours and are fumbling around much like we have for the past year. The neighborhood is familiar though and we have wandered around checking out what’s new and different and what is the same…and that’s where it starts to get weird.
There is nobody around. We are in a supremely walkable neighborhood with wide sidewalks, grassy boulevards, and close by amenities and yet the streets are devoid of people. I didn’t realize how much I had gotten used to being around people all the time. Almost everywhere we’ve been people live very public lives – the climate allows them to be outside all the time, the living density means that everything is out in the open, markets and shops are on or open to the street…even driving is public in many places as everyone is on a scooter and not encased in a metal casing. Granted the weather here has not been the best since we returned but that does not entirely explain the dearth of people – we just don’t live like that here and I’m going to have to get used to it again.
I expected that as soon as we got home again that I’d be all over nesting and being ‘homey’ but I seem to be fighting it. We only had about 7 boxes to unpack and it took us four days to do it – I didn’t even unpack my backpack until yesterday. I am a natural procrastinator but I don’t know why I’m being so resistant. I was excited to be coming home and was looking forward to staying in one place for more than 2 or 3 nights in a row but now I feel disconnected, frustrated and unfocused for some reason.
We have solved part of the problem. It seemed that we had tons of ideas and plans floating around in our heads but hadn’t put any framework around all of it and so we were feeling like we were floundering a bit. One of the things we learned on the road (thanks to our new friends Keith and Amy from GreenAroundTheGlobe) is the value of setting goals and objectives. I know this is old hat to many, many people but it is not something that we had employed. Chatting with them over a couple of days (that seem so long ago now), we realized that we were missing out on the power of forward planning. So yesterday we sat down and put all of our thoughts and ideas and to-do’s down on paper and, where possible, attached a goal date for each. This helped to organize our thoughts, checked that we were both on the same page, and ensured that the harder tasks do not get procrastinated away in favor of more fun tasks.
Re-connecting with friends and catching up has been tons of fun. Having the blog as a reference has been great as people have some idea of what the last year has been like for us. They ask questions about our stories giving us a chance to add in details and tell tales that didn’t make it into the blog posts. It’s funny though…we’re not ‘talkers’ per se and it’s hard to know how much people are really interested in. I don’t want to be blathering on and on and see someone’s eyes glaze over, but I also don’t want to stop short and give the impression that I’m not interested in talking about it either. I’m working on the premise that people want to hear about it…having friends return from long (or short) term trips I was always hesitant to ask too many questions or I thought my questions might be silly…now I’m on the other side and I’m saying ask all the questions you want – I’m eager tell my stories and to hear about what other peoples experiences are.
There are a few other oddities about being home:
- We aren’t cooking like I thought we would. Maybe it’s because we’re used to just going out for every meal, or that the kitchen (and it’s stuff) isn’t ours, or we’re just out of practice – either way we’ll have to get back at it, we may both have a bit of weight to lose but we still have to eat!
- I’m sleeping really well. I’ve slept right through every night since being home – that was a rarity for me while on the road. No barking dogs, no scooter noise, no roosters, and no thin walls with close neighbors means no need for earplugs and the nice soft bed and fresh linens means a nice comfy sleep.
- I know I joked last week about wearing the same clothes over and over again but it’s turning out to be true! Two reasons…it’s what I’m used to and so donning the same clothes as yesterday just happens, and because my old clothes don’t quite fit yet (need to hit bootcamp a few more times). I have been shopping a little though so although it may be the same few outfits, they’re not the same outfits I wore on the road.
It’s interesting being home. Just like being on the road it’s not quite what I expected and my emotions seem to be all over the place. It’s all part of the journey though and I just take it all in and figure it out as I go. I don’t start work for another week…that’ll be a whole other adjustment!