No Bombs, Only Snowballs

To those of you who have followed us over the past 19 months, you know that silence means difficulty—picket lines, roadblocks, cancelled flights, exploding rental cars, and sleeping in bus stations. For the past few months, our relative lack of communication can be attributed not to the unpredictability of travel, but to the constancy of everyday life at home. As summer blended into autumn and autumn collapsed into winter, we slipped, not without protest, into a domestic reverie, too concerned with homework, job negotiations, and yard maintenance to ruminate on our bygone traveling days. Now that we’ve moved on and are once again removed from our Atlanta nest, we are bombarded with reminders of what we were doing this time last year and the very real fact that we are not doing it now. You might remember that last New Year’s Eve we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one of our favorite cities, lighting celebratory lanterns and wandering through Buddhist temples. This year we are in Tom’s hometown of Orem, Utah, a city not without its particular charms, watching the snow fall and wondering how we have come so far and experienced so much in such a short time.

Mtnviewstadium

It is confusing and unsettling that we are now five months removed from our travels. In some ways it feels like five years. It’s hard to imagine the Andrus family of today–tethered by the logistics of selling and buying domiciles, withdrawing from and enrolling in elementary, middle, and high schools, and coordinating the relocation of all our worldly goods–hopping on a brood of elephants or floating down a remote Southeast Asian river with not a care in the world other than what delicious $1 meal to enjoy that evening.

We are neither the first nor the last to experience the difficulties of re-entry. Tara Russell, founder of Three Month Visa, spends her days counseling clients first on how to take long-term travel sabbaticals and second on how to move forward with their lives once they’ve returned. Tara shared many valuable insights with me and validated my belief that re-entry is in many ways more difficult than departure. I will share her words of wisdom in a future post (since I’ve left all my notes in Atlanta) but in the meantime, feel free to visit her website.

There is no doubt we accomplished something extraordinary with our trip. While it is hard to imagine that any of the six of us, even little Asher, is not permanently changed by the experience, our challenge in the coming months and years will be to keep the experience alive. We don’t want it to become that one amazing year we cling to, the exception in an otherwise pedestrian existence. Rather we want it to become the impetus that sparks us to fill every year with extraordinary experiences—learning, investigating, exploring, and most importantly growing closer to one another. And as always, don’t rule out more extended travel in the near future. A look at our Christmas gifts and the images Tom’s mom displays around her home reveals that no matter how absorbed we’ve gotten in life in the US, part of us continues to dream of the world.

grandmas map of our around the world tripChristmas books about travel and experience

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8 thoughts on “No Bombs, Only Snowballs

  1. Hi- Could you please write some reviews on your Christmas gifts? I did not get those books for Christmas- but while shopping for others, eyed them up for myself. I’ve heard they are little more than picture books. Which provides the best practical info? Might make for a good blog post. Thanks!

  2. Not only did I not get any travel related gifts like you did, I was given a 10 piece set of pots and pans and a set of knives. I think my family is trying to hint that I should settle down.

    It’s so good to hear that you have a plan and an exciting new place to live in the future. Just don’t be surprised when your kids start rating prospective colleges based on their study abroad programs. That’s what I did!

  3. More travel books for my collection!

    I know what you mean about reentry blues. The first time I lived outside the US, it took me almost a year to feel anything approaching “normal” again. I can only imagine how you must feel right now. In a small way I can, after having just returned from a month and a half cross-country roadtrip with my mom and 3 yo. It is weird just to be able to walk into my kitchen and make a cup of tea when I want it. My son keeps asking if we’re on another trip when I buckle him into his carseat to run to the grocery store.

    Planning the next trip always helps me feel a little better.

  4. Thought you might enjoy this – I don’t know the source:
    One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on a farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
    “It was great, Dad.”
    “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
    “Oh yeah,” said the son.
    “So tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
    The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
    The boy’s father was speechless.
    Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are.”

  5. Hi Andrus family!
    My name is Iva and I’m from Croatia. I just watched The Oprah show (we’re a little bit late with the show here) but I just want to say that it’s amazing what you did, I’m sure you’ve had a lot of different experience.
    With time, I hope I’ll read some of your posts about the countries you visited.
    Too bad you didn’t visit Croatia you would also have such a good time, I’m sure.

    Greetings to every member!

  6. Miss you guys! Kate and I just spent some time looking at pic’s. She misses Auntie Anne, Uncle Tom, and Asher, but said “I’m scared of that guy!” when she saw a pic of Mac. HA! No worries Mac, she’s only 2 and will soon grow out of it. Besides, you do enjoy the adoration of the rest of the female population. Hope all is well.
    Love yer guts!!!

  7. Best wishes for the New Year Andrus family and your new beginnings!!

    There is a conversation about roadschooling older kids while on a RTW family tour ( where you are mentioned) here:

    http://boards.bootsnall.com/eve/forums?a=tpc&s=712096715&f=64700833316&m=48100596416&r

    I was wondering if you could add some words of wisdom based on your experiences or perhaps go into greater detail about your thoughts and experience with it on a later post?

    ( Hey Iva from Croatia….we spent 46 days in your country and loooved it. I am sure the Andrus family will add it to their list for the future. 😉 The world is big! )

    Hope all is well in the Andrus family and you continue to adjust and dream!

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