Summering 2: the Return and the Pull of the Road
First of all, it was wonderful and we were incredibly lucky to be able to do it. Our accommodations were simply incredible. We spent a ton of time on the farm with our toddler and he loved having real face time with the animals while learning their sounds. We spent several days every week enjoying time with family, sampling the copious local breweries, hiking, and swimming. As I mentioned before, we were still working remotely and our son was in a wonderful daycare every morning, so we were able to spend a lot of time eating and drinking coffee at great coffee shops (Aero, Brilla). Realistically, I gained 15 pounds.
Now that we’re home and the dust has settled, I have some thoughts:
1. Returning home is hard. We were able to spend a lot of time with family we rarely see while building some new friendships. Then, suddenly, summer ended and all of that stopped. We returned to our friends back home but we miss our summer community. However, it wasn’t a summering experience for anyone except us so it’ll be different even if we return there next summer. Ultimately, we’ll see family again but knowing we’ll never return to the great experience we had is hard. I think that, with life being very structured around one location at this point, it’s unusual to experience the unpleasant sensation of missing someone/something with any frequency.
2. Our yard is a weed-growing expert. I had not owned a weed eater before last spring and I don’t know how I lived without one.
3. It’s very easy to fall into your old routines when you return. “Life” is a set of routines; sometimes you’re hoping new surroundings will encourage you to change them. Consequently, some of the changes you make when you travel are intentional. Others are imposed by logistics. Logistics changes, the ones that automatically change back when you get home, simply go unnoticed or are quite positive (your own bed and shower). However, those changes you made with purpose, largely the ones you were hoping would no longer influence negativity, fade away with the same ease. Examples might include an exercise routine the less pleasant weather at home now precludes, a diet that doesn’t fit well with your work/play schedule, or simply being intentional about your days. I found it much easier to be deliberate about our days when summering than it is at home, for example. So it’s very important to be aware of the ease with which you’ll lose things that changed from negative to positive when you return home without your conscious effort to sustain them.
4. Your toddler will notice something is up. Our toddler is a wonderful traveler and it only took him a day or two to be sure about the wonder of our new accommodations before he started to really enjoy them. He soon adored the farm and the animals, new friends, the beach, hikes, and a variety of other adventures. We weren’t sure if he’d remember our home at all. However, at some point when our car first crossed back into our neighborhood, he started repeating the word “house”. He’d not done that the entire trip. Then, we pulled into our driveway, he started repeating the word “home”. Home isn’t a word he’d heard often but the concept is a major theme of Corduroy! With a huge smile, he probably said home 10 times in the next hour after getting back to our house. It’s something I’d never heard him say it before. He clearly understood. Just keep in mind that your little ones have strong feelings about your travels too.
5. You’ll have a new set of eyes when you return. We bought fancy shower heads when we moved into our current house. Our summer accommodations didn’t have them. We never felt the same clean as we do at home. Since our return, showers are again glorious. Similarly, we again have central air conditioning, soft-close cabinets, and a short driveway, things we did not have while away. Lots of little things that it’s very easy to take for granted come back into perspective on your return. While problematic routines return easily too, those routines you forgot were great seem even better (at least for a little while).
6. If you have the itch to travel, it may not be sated by doing so. No matter how much you love your home and your life there, you may still feel a pull to experience new places. Now that we’ve been home for a few weeks, we already feel the pull back to the road. We have always liked slow travel and our summer elsewhere just stoked the fire for more prolonged trips. Being away did not make us want to stay home and now we’re thinking about our next adventure.
What did you learn when returning from nomading, summering, or prolonged travel?