We’ve spent the past two months answering questions about the trip, editing videos from the trip, writing about the trip, and speaking to groups about the trip. Our trip-related activity hasn’t slowed down, but to the contrary is gaining momentum. We spoke to one group last night, received a request to speak to another today, and are addressing yet another tomorrow night. We’re engaged in running conversations with media folks, both print and television, and answering emails from other family travelers. But has all this focus on our recent travels prevented us from reassimilating to life at home? Probably. Is it the only reason we’re finding it tough? Absolutely not.
As we gain a little distance and perspective from our year away, one thing is becoming clear: we’ve changed. The extent to which we’ve changed seems to be directly proportional to our age, with Tom and I being the most affected and the kids less so. Dax and McKane are embracing high school and middle school with renewed gusto, sending about 782 text messages per day, and generally glad to be surrounded by hundreds of people their own age. They like to talk about the trip with their friends, if and when they’re interested, and appreciate the insight it gives them into their world history classes. Kieran and Asher operate the same way they did on the road, taking whatever comes their way and turning it into a party–school, music class, soccer practice, free time at home. They like to watch videos of their adventures but seem just as happy to ride Big Wheels through the house as they were to ride elephants through the jungle. Tom and I are glad to spend time with our friends and neighbors but long for the freedom and togetherness we had with the kids on the road. We spend our days contemplating and working toward our still uncertain future and our nights juggling the kids’ homework and activities. Periodically we’ll think about what we were doing a year ago (today would have been surfing in Caloundra, Australia….aaaahhhhh) and wistfully imagine ourselves back on the road.
The bottom line is Tom and I are broken. Not in a temporary, bad way, but in a permanent, positive way. Many of the things we let consume us before now seem trivial and our vision of our future has changed. Above all right now we want to preserve our new perspective and avoid getting sucked back into a complicated, overscheduled lifestyle. We now have one less year with the kids than we did when we set off on our big adventure, and though it was an amazing one, we can’t rest on our laurels and stop building the memories. We’d love to find a way to incorporate a few annual stints of extended travel into our lives (and are actively working on it) but have to juggle this desire with the kids’ need for a home base replete with friends, drum teachers, and tennis coaches.
The journey we thought ended on July 21st has really only just begun. Give us a few more months to sort out our feelings and we might be living in a lean-to in the forest, working a sailboat in the Caribbean, or following Asher to an Olympic soccer training camp. Now that we’ve opened our minds, the possibilities are endless.