Pass the Salt Please: Theresa’s Thoughts on 2 Months of Being Home

Yes, friends, it’s been two entire months since our plane touched down in Seattle, putting us back on American soil after 363 days abroad. If I haven’t yet seen you, I apologize. Life back here in the U.S. is busy. Go to the grocery, spend more time than I care to in my car, don’t forget to get gas, run to Target to pick up toilet paper and garbage bags, schedule doctor appointments, figure out insurance options, buy a house. I do a lot of stuff these days. But at the same time I don’t really do anything. Run, run, run, but at the end of the day what can I say that I really did?

Also aside from the couple of old friends we have here in our new home of Durham, North Carolina, I’m not particularly close to any of you. It’s a four hour drive to see the closest of you, eight hours for the next set, and Lord, across an entire country for the rest of you. Funny how on our trip, we wouldn’t blink at 17 hour bus rides but here a 4 hour drive seems so impossible. Why don’t we get together more? Oh yeah, it’s all those things we have to do around here, the never ending lists of things to accomplish, the need to have everything perfectly planned not decided on a moment’s notice.

And if I haven’t called, well, I’m sorry. I don’t really have an excuse. I want to call, I swear, I want to catch up, but my adversity to the phone has grown so much stronger over the past year. I’m out of practice. It feels so cold and foreign, so impersonal. And I feel so out of touch. Where do I even start?

I have to say that I’m finding coming home to be much harder than leaving. Life, to be honest, feels bland, as if someone forgot to add the salt. Most days I have this feeling that I’m just waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what it is, but I keep feeling like this can’t be it, that there’s got to be something more.

Obviously, I knew it would be hard, be an adjustment, but knowing something and being prepared for it are completely different things. I thought moving to a new place, starting new jobs, meeting new people would be enough to keep the adventure alive, but it’s not. I desperately miss the old version of the to-do list:

  • jump into warm tropical waters and spend an hour 18 meters below the surface among turtles, sharks, fish, octopus, and amazing coral reefs
  • wake up early to try to spot a lion returning from a hunt
  • watch turquoise blue icebergs calve
  • eat all the Asian street food I can handle for less than $5
  • get up close and personal with gorillas
  • give an elephant a bath
  • get a lesson on Buddhism from a monk
  • listen to the Dalai Llama teach
  • and so on and so forth

I’ve never felt so alive as I did when we were on our trip, so in control of my life, so certain that this was exactly what I was meant to be doing. I’ll let Jeff speak for himself, but I don’t think he feels exactly the same as I do. Somehow I married one of the few people in the world who really like what they do. And unfortunately his job is not one that we can take with us on a trip. Just try to take a bunch of cell lines across a border and see what happens. I dare you. So, for at least a few years, we’re going to be stable, and I’m going to have to again find the joy in the ordinary…as well as figure out how to squeeze as many trips into our regular person schedule and our homeowner’s budget as is humanly possible. It’ll take time. That’s what I have to remind myself. And it’ll be okay, I’m certain. Probably even good. Maybe even great, spectacular. Somehow the two of us together usually manage to have a pretty damn good time.

But if Jeff walked in the door tonight and asked if I was ready to go, ready to head out for Round 2 of seeing all the crazy, wonderful, amazing things this world has to offer, I wouldn’t hesitate. I’d throw all those same ol’ clothes and same ol’ gadgets in my bag and be out the door, no looking back.

But maybe this time, we’d start our journey with a roadtrip around the country, seeing all of you family and friends that I do truly miss and trying to convince you all to join us, if not for the entire trip, for a month, a fortnight, a week.

And of course, we wouldn’t actually start any of this until December 26, because as much as I want to be back on the road, for Christmas there’s nowhere I want to be but home. Life, I’ve found, is tricky like that.

8 Replies to “Pass the Salt Please: Theresa’s Thoughts on 2 Months of Being Home”

  1. Well said! I still have phone aversion, haha. The call and pull of the road is strong, even after all this time being back in the states. Enjoy the holidays, and keep enjoying this crazy life we are trying to fit back into. Round peg, square hole-I totally get it.

  2. “Life, to be honest, feels bland, as if someone forgot to add the salt. Most days I have this feeling that I’m just waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what it is, but I keep feeling like this can’t be it, that there’s got to be something more.”

    Very well said. Exactly how I felt after our trip. It does get easier after a while, and life returns to feeling “normal,” but I have to admit that I can’t quite shake that feeling of “there’s gotta be something more.” Good luck finding a balance between real life and travel (I’m still trying to find it! I came pretty close when we moved abroad for a year). Happy holidays!

  3. Ordinary is just a normative construction that most people either find comfort in or try to resist. And ordinary is usually defined counter to something not ordinary/normal. So, that’s one way to define it. Or you can define it for yourself in your terms. Yeah, it’s never going to be “that other thing.” But that doesn’t mean what you have now is better/worse. Just different.

  4. Objectively it might not be better or worse. Or academically. But my life is neither objective nor academic; it’s completely subjective.

    I also think ordinary is subjective. My ordinary is not your ordinary. I’m not opposed to ordinary. I just want to define my own ordinary.

    And by the way, knock ’em dead tomorrow. You have academic arguments down to an artform 🙂

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