We arrived home on Thursday night from our adventure around the world and this weekend has been a rollercoaster of sleepless nights, early morning wake up calls from our sweet excited pup, lots of sitting on our couch contemplating our return while trying to stay warm by the fire and cooking fresh, healthy delicious food. Either this is the most I’ve been affected by jet lag during our ten months traveling or I just can’t slow down my brain long enough to actually stay asleep for more than three consecutive hours. I am finding it a bit challenging to reflect on the last ten months, while also trying to assimilate back into our lives in United States. I am not too surprised by this though, when I have constant memories of our time biking across Spain, hiking through the Pyrenees in France, camping across Southern Africa and of the shoeless, dirt covered sweet faces of children in Uganda. Our time traveling has been so rich with experiences and emotions that I have actually found it difficult to constantly reflect throughout our entire journey. Because we have been continuously changing and adjusting to new countries, cultures and cuisines I don’t feel like I have had adequate time in between each new experience to fully appreciate and digest how I was feeling. Looking back I think it was sometimes just easier for me to just be present where we were at the moment, then to be constantly thinking about all that we had done and seen. I am not sure how I thought I would feel after returning from nearly a year of traveling but I know that how I am feeling is continuing to evolve and change.
When we first arrived back in the United States for Christmas I felt completely overwhelmed, worn down, exhausted both physically and emotionally and like a total stranger in a foreign land. I definitely needed to regroup, rest and build my immune system up again. Christmas and the weeks following were challenging but were also absolutely wonderful. After returning home it didn’t take long for me to recognize how much I took for granted prior to traveling. Things that used to be mindless tasks such as errands, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and going to the gym are now very exciting for me. Picking up the phone to call my mom or my sister, meeting a friend for a bubble tea, playing Settlers of Catan with our best friends, walking our dog, going to church, wine night with my girlfriends and lazy nights cuddling on the couch watching a movie with my husband…these are things that I thoroughly enjoyed before, but now I truly cherish them. With that being said there are definitely things that I am going to miss about traveling.
Lately, I have been longing to stay in one place, to have a routine, to know where I am going to sleep every night, to not be flying internationally (well let’s be honest to not be flying at all), to eat food that I know will not make me sick, to take a shower without flip flops on, to spend time with our friends and family and to retire my backpack for awhile. But now that I have all those desires met, I find myself already reminiscing on the simplicity of my backpack and the things I had inside of it. I know that I will quickly miss the freedom of not having a routine and the excitement of finding new and different places to sleep every couple of nights. I will miss exploring new cities, traversing beautiful mountains and discovering delicious local cuisine. And although the international flights were usually fairly stressful for me, I will always have fond memories of sitting beside my best friend, grabbing his hand when the turbulence would arrive, being way too excited to be watching movies in English and being intrigued by each and every item on the food trays that would arrive in the middle of my Benadryl induced sleep. I most definitely will miss meeting interesting, fabulous people from all over the word. I will miss hearing new and different perspectives about life and learning about the different parts of the world that people come from. We have met some incredibly wonderful people over the past year, many of whom I hope to keep in contact with and travel to see again in the future.
So where does all of this leave me and where do I go from here. You might think after a year of time off, I would know…but I definitely don’t have everything figured out about life and I am okay with that. I may not be anymore clear about the meaning of life and exactly what I want to do when I “grow up”, but I think I at least have some ideas. Many people are wondering and asking about what is next for Wes and I, where are we going to live, what jobs are we going to take, what life is going to look like, ect. There are still very many unknowns, which is a bit scary but because I have gotten pretty used to the unknowns over the last year I find it kind of exciting. We are planning to stay in Oklahoma City for now and to live in our house that we have rented to Wes’ dad over the last year. Our favorite furry friend, Moby is back home and seems very happy to have us all to herself. As far as jobs…well just before we left I finished Pediatric Nurse Practitioner school and luckily after traveling I still want to work as a PNP, therefore I am currently looking for a job and am getting very excited about starting my career as a PNP. As far as what life is going to look like, well I think it will be a bit of the same as before but it will also be different…because well we are different now.