Thursday, 15 August 2013

Post-trip experience - shifting gears once again

How do I write a last blog (which I think this might be) on such an amazing year? It is so sad to think about it and mostly I've been going through so many emotions and shifting perspectives that to try to write something coherent about our post-trip experiences seems impossible to capture, but I'll try.

The first weekend back was at the family cottage - lots of cheer, and celebrations (end of school year too!) and we slipped back into the familiarity of family so easily. The cottage is always is good time - really it was an extension of our trip. Then the excitement of returning to our house - home! Our final stop (the counter on our website even stopped - 365 days in total).  It felt great to have our home back and to be welcomed so warmly by our neighbours (and to be surprised by brother and sister-in-law with their awesome help to unpack!). Our return and re-entry to our home and neighbourhood was special - re-united - it  felt all cozy and warm like.  Then over the next few days the shift in emotions  - happy, content to be home.. then feeling disgusted (yes, I felt that strongly) by all our stuff as the unpacking proceeded (why do we need so much ? We were doing fine living out of the top half of our backpacks!). You'd think I'd be happy to have a whole new set of clothes, but really I felt a bit sad. I liked the simplicity my worn out travel clothes. And all the stuff we were unpacking just seemed so unnecessary and we didn't seem to have space for it, so our stuff was feeling suffocating and overwhelming.. not comforting at all.

And then the first grocery shops - so much selection and such nice looking food - the sense of abundance, bountiful! And to have our kitchen again and be able to fill it with familiar foods - it felt good to be able to control our own eating and make sure the kids were eating a healthy meal!  (Liam pretty much lived on Hamburgesa y Papa Fritas for year!). But then the incredible sense of discrepancy between our quality of life and what we had been witnessing in our travels in Central America hits and the emotions get complicated. It  hit me hard in the first weeks back that we live in such a consumer culture - it's hard to escape it (the trip to Costco with the giant size shopping carts didn't help!-but really.. those carts are ridiculous!). The warmth and sense of belonging that we were so happy with when we first returned home started to mix with empty and bland feelings that the consumer world creates (in my opinion). When we travelled, the sense of humanity was so tangible, it was everywhere around us, but it seemed hidden here... hidden in homes and cars and buildings. And as the "settling in" continued, I realized that in our society, connecting to people and life takes more effort - like you have to sift through the stuff to find the realness. (and you have to schedule everything to connect with people.. in seems to come in time allocated connectiveness).

But we are settling in, taking the bad with the good, getting back into the grove, and shifting back to the gear that matches the pace of our society. I found myself racing through the grocery store with my cart and had to do an abrupt slow down (if there was someone right behind me, they would have been annoyed) as I realized I didn't know why I was rushing - I just was. Our lives are now consumed with decisions about what needs to "get done" - garage roof needs repair, car needs new brakes, driving Liam to soccer games and practices, and Sean to and fro from cooking camp, groceries that need to be bought, laundry done, etc ect. We are BACK! ...  and most days it feels great- kids are playing with friends, Bbq get togethers with friends, ice cream treats after Liam's soccer game, Sean's enthusiastic re-telling of what he did at camp that day, enjoying a morning coffee with Eric in our own home -  it's all good -  it's all great really. But then this newer perspective, this clarity on the larger society around us, shifts into view and it gets complicated and conflicted  (I have a hard time listening to the news now - it really saddens me). And maybe that is really what settling back in is all about - getting used to complicated again. Our 365 days of "shifting gears" was an opportunity to slow down but also it was an opportunity to live simply - with just a backpack, the four of us, and time.

And now on the eve of my return to full time work, a new layer will be added to our day to day existence and the re-entry will soon be cemented. The amazing, special, unique year now in the past.. (which I find myself reminiscing about quite a bit.. a grieving of sorts I think.)

But onward... and though we are shifting back into gear and settling in (being "absorbed" as our neighbour called it),  this still feels like a transition phase ...  I don't think our new reality, post-trip, has emerged quite yet.

Thanks again for everyone who followed along on our journey in whole or in parts. And for family, friends and neighbours that welcomed us home so warmly.. it meant everything to us - Thank you!

(here is a quick year at a glance slideshow... about 8-12 minutes I think)