“Navigation, you see, is not just a problem for sailors. Everyone must go adventuring sooner or later, yet finding one’s way home is not easy. Just like the North Star and all its whirling, starry brethren, a person’s idea of where “home” is remains in perpetual motion, one’s whole life long.”
- Maryrose Wood from “The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book II: The Hidden Gallery”
Two years ago yesterday, we left on our adventure. I am a big believer in celebrating important anniversaries and events, and January 4 has been come quite a significant date for our family. My friend Alexandra asked if we still think about the trip often, and my answer…. every day. Truly, every single day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of home lately. What makes a place home? The house? The people? The community? All of the above…and yet…I think the most important thing about home is that it is a place that sits in your heart. I freely admit that I was quite unsettled when we arrived back home. There was too much pressure on this one place to be everything. And finally, I’ve stopped trying to make it be everything. Why can’t home be in more than one place? Yes, our little town in New England where I sit right now is home, and I love it. But Sweden is home too. And some days, I long for Istanbul, or Kyoto, or Capetown or Luang Prabang, or Wellington. It isn’t that I want to move to those places (well, maybe sometimes), but that I want to connect to that little piece of my heart that lives in those places.
A flight to places known (and unknown) isn’t in the cards at the moment, so for now I’ll watch our “Around the World in 4 Minutes”, just for a little taste of the perpetual motion that was home for us in 2011. Join me?
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
It would be a lie to say we haven’t cried because our big adventure is over. But we are now firmly moving into the next phase of our journey – sharing it.
This past week we “presented” our trip for the first time. We were in the meeting room of our local library, and the room was filled with friends and neighbors – the best audience you could ever ask for. We had so much fun showing pictures, sharing stories, answering questions, and bringing our friends on the journey with us.
In preparation for the meeting, we created a 4-minute video answering the question, “where did you go?”
Click here: Around the World in 4 Minutes
I hope it answers a little more than that.
- Edward in “The End of the Beginning” by Avi
One year ago today, we left on our big adventure. A year ago. I vividly remember what it was like that morning – finishing our packing, wrapping up the house, and saying goodbye with butterflies in our stomachs. So much unknown ahead…so much exploring on the horizon.
So I ask myself now, “where are we today?” Besides the obvious – at the kitchen table (Sian), in NYC (Per), at school (the girls), I still find it hard to say where we are on a deeper level. If you think you are tired of hearing me say, “I’m not really sure”, imagine how tired I am of saying it! But it is the truth. Last January, I wrote a blog about transformation. People kept saying, “this trip will transform you”, and I believe it is true, but HOW?
Therein lies the biggest mistake. The question is not, “how did the trip transform you?” The question should be, “how is this experience going to change you moving forward?” What is transformation if not seeing things from a new perspective?
So instead, I ask myself, “what next?” We will write a book. In complete honesty, a book has been in the back of my mind since last January, but I’m still struggling with what it will look like. But now I’ve said it out loud to you all, so I’m committed. As we know from the very beginning of this crazy idea back in 2008, accountability keeps us motivated. I am also designing a curriculum enrichment program so we can take this journey into middle schools. The richness of our adventure came from experiencing it with Linnea and Kajsa. Kids have such vivid imaginations, an incredible sense of possibility, and an inherent ability to find fun. If sharing our experiences motivates just one child to have their own adventure, I will be thrilled. Again, I’m not sure what this program will look like, but darn it, I’ve said it out loud, so be sure to keep me accountable. I am open to suggestions, ideas, and help of any kind.
This past weekend the four of us had lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant, and I posed this question:
“If I told you we could leave on another trip around the world in 2 days, would you go?”
The answers were, “yes, yes, yes and yes”. Enough said.
It’s been almost a month since we arrived back at home. The first few days were all about reconnecting with our surroundings, and reconnecting with friends. As homecomings go, we couldn’t have asked for more. We were surprised by friends at the airport. Our house was clean and decked out with “welcome home” signs, flowers, food, and care packages. Per’s car, which had decided to stop working (I think it missed him) had even been towed to the repair shop, and was waiting for us all spiffed up and ready to go. Our life was completely filled with hugs. Yes, we felt very, very welcome when we arrived home.
Then, once the high of arriving home shifted into the routines of living at home, we found ourselves spending a lot of time processing the trip, and processing the transition. And by processing, I mean sitting on the front porch drinking too much coffee and moping. A lot.
We knew there would be questions about the journey, but I hadn’t really prepared myself for answering the big questions, nor had I even thought about what those questions would be.
“How was the trip?” Yes, that question was expected. The answer? “Great” doesn’t do it justice. “A dream”, though true, sounds a little hokey. So far, the best answer was suggested by our friend Denise, who said, “outrageously awesome”. In truth, I think the biggest struggle with this question is addressing the enormity of the answer in a succinct way. I hesitate to say, “the experience of a lifetime” because now that we have lived this adventure, we want more! How about, “beyond our wildest dreams”?
“What was your favorite place?” Nope…can’t really answer that one well either. Every place we visited offered us something new, something to think about, something to enjoy. We’ve talked about it as a family, and though we might rearrange the way we spent some of our time, or change the time of year we visited some places (summertime in southeast Asia and China is HOT!), we would gladly visit everyplace again. For real.
Now for the hardest question, “Aren’t you glad to be home?” I find this question to be totally unnerving. The answer is “no”. But the answer is also “yes”. Let’s go with, “yes and no”. Sometimes being home feels like being wrapped in a comfortable blanket. We have amazing friends, live in a wonderful community, and truly appreciate the gift our life here is. But we also find ourselves longing for the road. Just one more country…just a few more weeks…just a little more time together…just the four of us.
This question gets to the crux of the challenge of our transition. Our trip was an incredible snapshot in time. Not just all the cool countries, historical sites, and awesome food. It was an 8-month period of time when we had our girls all to ourselves. We had each others undivided attention. We did everything together, and though that is not always champagne and roses, it is very, very special. I discovered that I am still madly in love with my husband, and that he is my best friend. We got to know our children as people (not just as our children), and you know what? We really, really like them. How cool is that?
That leads to the last question, “how is the transition home going?” For the girls, the adjustment happened incredibly quickly. They hit the ground running, and though there are moments of missing our adventure, they are happily settled back into life at home. For me and Per? I think we need just a little more time.