He Said/She Said: A Week in the USA

He Said/She Said: A Week in the USA

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What’s it like to be home after 900 days abroad?  Here are our first reactions of being back in the USA for the 4th of July week.

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HE SAID…

I meant to write this after a week at home, I really did, but how could I type with a beer in one hand and a brat in the other?  It’s not possible.  The first ten days at home were a blur of family, friends and fireworks. I got more than seven hours of sleep on exactly two nights.  I gained six pounds of meat fat.  It was everything I’d hoped for and more.

First of all, coming home for the Fourth of July week was genius.  Seemingly everyone had the week off, allowing us to see more people than expected.  Not only that, but friends and family seemed genuinely interested in seeing us, which made each day special.  There is no describing seeing people for the first time in a long time, from BBQs to playing poker, it was as though I had been gone a weekend…if not for everyone telling me I’d been gone for sooooo long.

Returning after so long was scary.  I didn’t know what to expect of other people.  I didn’t know what to expect of myself.  Was it going to be a huge letdown? The only word that currently comes to mind about returning is “easy”.  It was easy because of one thing: we kept exploring.

I think people crash after returning home from an adventure because they stop doing what they enjoyed on the adventure.  We decided that we wouldn’t do that.  While traveling we never shied away from an hour bus ride to see something new, why not do that at home? Got an offer to do something interesting?  Why not say yes?  The first week home I went sailing for the first time in years and watched fireworks in a new place.  I think my fears were overblown as long as I keep that travel mindset.

The most exciting thing?  We’re not done with LivingIF.  Our computer was stolen in April and we haven’t had the chance to upload photos or add posts about the last months of the trip.  We have at least six more months of posts from South America…enough to get us to our next (already scheduled) trip.

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SHE SAID…

After spending years on the road, everyone including strangers on the street in foreign countries were concerned about our assimilation back into the U.S.  Many people offered helpful tips while others reacted so strongly I feared I might spontaneously combust upon crossing the border.  While I felt some apprehension about the trip ending, I was ready for the comforts of home and couldn’t wait to see family and friends.

I am happy to report that I didn’t spontaneously combust upon re-entry, in fact the last two weeks has been a whirlwind of friends, family, fireworks, food and more food.  Being home has been weird in that it feels like we never left.  The entire trip seems like a distant memory. I felt as if I had completely changed on this trip, but back here in familiar surroundings I feel like the same person.  Aside from added children our friends are the same and life goes on as it always has in Minnesota.

While there is comfort in the familiar it’s strange to think that just two weeks ago I was in Colombia as part of an adventure that took me all around the world.  It almost sounds unbelievable- did it really happen?  Surely if it did I would be a different person.  I know that I have changed in ways that I could never fully explain, but for now I am enjoying the routine and common-place in Minnesota. These things are more novel than arriving in a new city every three days, as I have for the last three years, and maybe that’s the best change of all- seeing my life here with new eyes.

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YOUR TURN: What was it like when you returned home from a big adventure or time away?

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Comments

» Graham :
Jul 10, 2013

“Being home has been weird in that it feels like we never left. The entire trip seems like a distant memory. I felt as if I had completely changed on this trip, but back here in familiar surroundings I feel like the same person. Aside from added children our friends are the same and life goes on as it always has in Minnesota.”

Very well said. How can one reconcile the diversity of life around the globe with the hardly changing feeling of life back at home? I suppose everyone feels this way, regardless of their hometown…

LOCAVORista Reply:

Graham, there is some comfort in knowing that many people returning from a similar trip have some of the same mixed emotions. There is a lot to process after being gone for so long and being reunited with your “old life”

» Lesley young :
Jul 11, 2013

Are we going to get the chance to see you?

LOCAVORista Reply:

Lesley, I will have to swing by the Community Center and say “hi” to everyone!

» Divergent Travelers :
Jul 11, 2013

This is a tough one. We have done mostly short term travel for the past 12 years while working full time jobs- and coming back, even from short trips I find hard sometimes. We’re departing in Jan. for a 900 day RTW and this is one thing I have thought about, reintegrating after the trip. Great article.
Read Divergent Travelers’s awesome post Photo of the Week: Bruges, Belgium

LOCAVORista Reply:

Divergent Travelers, I am so excited for you guys and your upcoming trip- you are ahead of the game if you are already thinking about how this trip will change you and what it will be like to reintegrate upon your return.

» Marie :
Jul 11, 2013

Your words are so true, I feel exactly the same; while travelling I felt I had changed so much, and now that I am back home, I nehave in the same way I used to, which feels a bit weird. It is like being back in a old self… and meanwhile, I also react to everyday things in a very different way… more thoughtful, more aware of how awesome my life is and how lucky I am, maybe?
Let’s hope we continue to put things in (travel) perspective and this mindset lasts!
Miss you guys!!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Marie, I agree with being so grateful and happy to have this amazing family and group of friends to return to, I am more aware even though it is as if I have returned to a previous version of myself- the Minnesota Erica… Hopefully we can come visit the France Marie sometime soon- miss you !

» Kim :
Jul 11, 2013

OMG you guys. We just returned home for three months (and then we’re heading out again) but it has been REALLY hard for us. We took on too much at once. I just wanted to lay in a dark room and get my bearings but that wasn’t possible. And now we’re staying with my in-laws! No alone time… are you guys back in a place by yourselves? I’m sure that would help a lot. I’m glad that your re-entry was better than ours.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kim, we are in the same boat. I am living with my in-laws as well, however we are lucky that they are very well traveled and seem to have a sense that we need space, plus they took off for a long trip of their own and we have the next few weeks to get settled in. Best of luck as you continue to adjust to life in the U.S.

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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