We’ve now been home two months, and now we’re heading off. I’ve been offered a job that is sending me to New Zealand for a week so we’ve decided to make a trip of it and we’re all going. One week of work in Auckland and then we’re getting a camper van and touring around NZ for 10 days.
Being home has been hard. We knew it would be. The kids have settled into school now, we’ve moved into our house and we’re both working again (our empty piggy bank is oinking ‘thank you’). But have we been glad to be home? In many ways, yes. But for me, truthfully, I’ve really struggled with it.
We’ve loved having our garden back, we’ve planted a lot of fruit & veg, and we can’t wait to start eating them. We’ve been harvesting our grapes and peaches and eating them with relish. The kids have been making the best use of our spacious backyard, something they missed in the European cities. They can often be found out there playing soccer, or just walking around looking at insects or plants.
One of the most exciting things about returning was to catch up with all the amazing people we love. This has been much harder than we expected. Everyone’s lives are so busy (including our own), and finding time to catch up is not easy. This has been a stark reminder of everything we were trying to escape in the first place, that we’re so busy filling up our lives with work, school, extra curricular activities, that it’s hard to make time to spend quality time with the people in our lives. We spent so much of the last year in Spain, where a day (even a work day) is organised around coffee or lunch with friends, or a stroll with family. Real connection between people remains a high priority and people listen with their full attention. Nobody seems to be thinking of where they need to be next or their long list of tasks to complete by the end of the day. This sounds like a harsh judgement of Australia, but it is intended more as a compliment to the Spaniards, who, even in this busy, digital age, have maintained this incredible sense of interpersonal connection by valuing it as a vital part of the fabric of their lives. This is not affecting the kids so much – I believe kids are better at connecting with one another than adults – but I for one am grieving for the community and society we felt so strongly in Spain, even as unknown travellers.
We’ve made a conscious effort to not fall into old routines, and that has been refreshing. We’ve made time to enjoy our family time together at the end of every day, although we’re all missing each other a lot. After 24 hours a day together for a year, I feel like a part of me is missing when the kids are at school or I am at work.
Heading off again is exciting, and I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to do it again so soon (thank you to a very well-timed work offer). Our bank account is bottoming out – our financial advisor told us the other day that he’ll have to start guilting us out of this travel-bug soon or we’ll end up unable to support ourselves in the long run. He added that we need to be careful that we have enough money to do the things in retirement that we’ve waited our whole lives to do. At least we don’t have to worry about that part – we’re not waiting, we’re doing those things now! But his warnings need to be taken seriously, we don’t have anything to fall back on, and we need to earn some money instead of constantly travelling to afford to live, but when the opportunities come up, we feel we have to take them if we can. We know that our wanderlust will have to be reined in as the kids’ education becomes the priority, but for now, we’ll take the ebb & flow of life and squeeze every bit of juice out of life that we can.
Checking into my flight this morning without Cass and the kids felt strange and unusual. Thankfully they’re only a day behind me and I’ll see them tomorrow in Auckland. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with that life I’ve been pining for since we came back home. Spending time with each other, being curious about the world, meeting new people and experiencing everything we can about this planet is much more precious to us right now than the minutiae of life. So that’s why after such a short time after coming home, we’re leaving again (even though we probably shouldn’t).