After 11 weeks, 7 States, 5 beds, and approximately 60hrs of road tripping, I am Home Sweet Home. Chris & I estimated that we spend about 4 months out of every year traveling. Sometimes it feels like weeks before I've caught up to myself in all the travels-- like I don't quite know who I am anymore.
Not that I'm complaining (okay, sometimes I complain). I enjoy the fact that my job takes me to Africa, London, the Rockies, Florida, and of course, back to my family in Southern California (I try not to think about the fact that I have to pay for all those travels). It even works out pretty nicely that during the cold, foggy summer months of San Francisco, we can rent out our apartment to a friend and bask in the sun all summer (well, this summer, I was mostly in an air conditioned class room with no windows, but it was sunny & warm on our bike rides to the classroom).
One benefit of traveling so much is that it transforms my tiny, cramped, loud apartment into a palace-- a haven. Coming home to this Rubik's Cube of a home, where everything fits just so, is the most wonderful, comforting feeling in the world. Sleeping in my own bed is a slice of heaven, putting groceries into our refrigerator is bliss, even cleaning feels good (for the first few days). The feeling of padding around the house in your PJ's, with only the dog & hubby to see you (and the homeless guy looking through the window)-- the feeling of having your own space-- is a luxury beyond compare.
It's always an interesting to notice the things that I miss about home. Last summer, I missed my bed terribly (as I was sleeping in a hammock). This summer, it was food, diversity & culture that I was hungry for-- and (oddly enough) dogs. I bordered on scary stalker lady every time I saw a dog. Very strange.
Most evenings throughout the year, Chris & I come home tired & hungry, and all we want to do is shovel food into our faces and plop on the couch... but this little 60lb mutt always foils our plans. He needs to go out, and almost every evening I groan & try to think of some way to get out of our daily walk to the park.
Strangely enough, though, it was those walks that I missed the most this summer, while Gavin spent his time guarding the in-law's house, and we were away in Colorado. I realized just how much those walks nourished me-- helped me to unwind after a tiring day, gave space in our marriage to talk & reflect, created opportunities to be outside, and to gain the comic relief and plain old fun of watching dogs happily wrestling each other.
After about a week of breaking our evening routine (for lack of a dog), I noticed how cranky & unsettled I was. I felt antsy and tired all at the same time-- restless & sluggish. I can't remember what prompted me to go for a walk, but I do remember the revelation it was to just be outside, releasing my mind to wander wherever it pleased. Sometimes Chris came, and sometimes I was alone. Sometimes we even traded our walk for an evening bike ride, watching the sun set over the mountains, and coming back after dark. I was always covered in mosquito bites, but somehow felt a little more alive, better connected to myself.
We've been home for 3 nights now, and have taken Gavin to the dog park each evening. Ironically, after having happily patrolled the suburban backyard all summer with his playmate, Champ, he's terrified of the variety of the dog park. He always takes a while to readjust to city life, and seems to jump & start at everything. For myself, though, it feels so good to be home-- connected to myself through the familiarity of my own home, my own things, and that dreaded (but therapeutic) daily walk to the park.