Fade Into Sunshine

We made it! I’m afraid many of you think we’ve fallen off our beloved globe to be heard from no more. Though it’s true we had moments of simply wanting to run away rather than dealing with the logistics and finances of a 6-person cross country move, we persevered, and after an intense month of faxing, flying, and fretting, paperwork, planning, and persistence, we finally arrived on the West Coast last week. To say this move (which is still very much in process) has been the toughest thing we’ve ever done is an understatement. People marvel that we could take four children to the far reaches of the planet, yet 11-months of travel was cake compared to this. On the road we had nothing more than a bevy of backpacks, a few credit cards, and 2-3 days of transportation and lodging arrangements to deal with. On any given day our logistics were confined to what we could carry and where we wanted to go. Here we’ve got multiple households, legions of possessions, and a seemingly endless string of utility providers, real estate agents, and insurance companies vying for our too short supply of time and energy. We’re trying to keep our wits about us, but every now and then we pine for the simplicity of the road.

The most stressful issue, however, has nothing to do with matters material and everything to do with the emotional well-being of the Six. When Tom and I removed the kids from their American lives for one year, it was with the assurance that they would one day return to the familiarity of their home and their friends and their activities. Moving requires us to leave all that comfort and security behind and forge something completely new. When traveling each destination was temporary, so there was no pressure for it to be perfect, no need to find new best friends, no threat that it would replace the permanence of home. Home for us has now disappeared and we hope it will emerge once again in our new environs–new friends, new activities, new neighborhood. Tom and I are accustomed to such changes, but we do not presume that leaving everything familiar behind will be easy or painless for the kids.

January 2008 will forever be remembered as the hiatus between our Great Southern Adventure and our second West Coast Tour. Atlanta bid us farewell by posting our picture on the cover of the Atlanta Life magazine and adding thousands more new homes to an already weak real estate market. This latter fact presents an interesting contrast to the experience of the Cohen family of One Year Off fame, whom many of you have mentioned in your emails and comments. Before departing on their yearlong sojourn with 3 kids, they sold their home and put their furniture in storage only to find it more expensive to replace their house when they got back. Bummer for them. Trying to avoid their dilemma, we kept our house, assuming it would pay for itself in appreciation. Bigger bummer for us, as our timing couldn’t have been worse. We left a red hot, rapidly appreciating market and returned to find our house worth significantly less than when we had left it. Had we known Tom would return to no job, we might well have sold the house and traveled for two or three years and still come out ahead. I mention this not to gripe (ok, well maybe a little), but to highlight that in planning for an extended trip like ours (and the Cohens), there is no perfect formula or foolproof plan. You have to do what works at the time and know there will always be risk involved. That said, if anybody is looking for a house in suburban North Atlanta, drop us a line…

snowboarding with uncle scottKieran building a snowman with Luke and Harry
andrus family in a snow pryamid

Our transitional home at Grandma and Grandpa’s in Utah filled our days with wintry fun and our nights with dreams of warmer climes. The boys snowboarded, Tom and I braved the bitter cold of Park City for a few MySpace concerts, and the entire extended family ripped up the “slopes” at a local park with innertubes and toboggans. McKane perfected a big air jump off a berm he built with his Uncle Scott, but lost his zeal when, in typical “it’s only fun until someone gets hurt” fashion, a hapless co-ed bit it hard and sprained her back on his primitive construction.

Anne enjoying the winter in UtahSledding with Grandma, Aunt Kat, Luke and Uncle ScottGrandpa with a snow toupe

After dragging it out for as long as I possibly could, I finally broke down and bought my contribution to global warming, a used, seven-seater SUV, perfect for hauling kids and surfboards (Prius to follow in a few months). I loaded up four children (2 sick for the first time in a year and a half) and slogged through snow, salt, and ice to reach our rented piece of nirvana in Malibu and rejoin our now hardworking Tom. Everything we own is still in Atlanta, so we’re camping on air mattresses and eating off of paper plates. We might never have considered such discomfort before our trip, but after living out of compression sacks and sleeping in tents, busses, hostels, and airports for a year, no one has missed a beat, much less considered our new living arrangements odd. I’d like to think this is yet one more way the trip has transformed us and given us a new perspective on even the most mundane aspects of everyday life. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing I relish about being bogged down in moving minutiae, nor do I enjoy threats from the Fulton County school district that I could go to prison for Dax’s continued absences (we did withdraw him–they just can’t seem to get the paperwork into the system). Having seen more, done more, and been away from it all for 11 months just helps me shrug it off a little quicker and gaze out at my new view with a little more appreciation….Sorry, Sheraton, what can I say but home….aaaaahhhhhh!

a view from our malibu home

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

8 thoughts on “Fade Into Sunshine

  1. keep the website up it’s kinda like reading a book where you can only read a chapter at a time ps:tell mac to email me

  2. hello, my friend is Elder Andrus(Russell Andrus) in piura peru mission, are you family with Russell Andrus?

  3. Tell me about the school system–here they are threatening legal action against me because I pulled my two kids out of school in order to home school them. They must have lost the letter, too. The school system’s bureaucratic nightmare of departments that don’t talk to each other didn’t help. Call one phone number, and they tell you to call another. This goes on for days.

  4. Your blog really make me jealous. You are able to manage such an exhaustive traveling with your family. Not many people can get such kinda great experience. Thanks for blogging this for us. God bless you and your family.

  5. I can only pay respect to your family. I do believe that education is important, but children can learn so much while travelling, that no textbook can teach. Travelling around the world at an early age and learn about different cultures can only be a good thing. I am absolutely sure that as a result of that “crazy” adventure your kids are more mature, kinder and more understandable and more culturally aware, which is a priceless characteristic to have. If parents are able to give their kids this kind of experience, every government, every educational authority should be supportive and not the opposite. Experience of different culture leads to a better understanding of different people in our multicultural society, kids at school will understand their school mates from different backgrounds and hopefully it will lead to a more peaceful world without wars and conflicts. These 11 months will stay with them for the rest of their lives and all the problems with bills, mortgages and other household issues will be forgotten.

  6. I read your posts and think they are great,i have four children at home Katie 12,Lily 5, Troy 3 ,Ethan1 , a older daughter who has left home,i have always had a really strong urge to take them travelling but as i find it hard to travel to London for a weeks holiday to visit my family i dont think it is possible at the moment so i love your posts they help me to know there are people who have done this with there children and survived……ha ha …x cant wait for my turn.

Leave a Reply