Posted by: stacylynn12 | April 23, 2012

Touching Down

It’s a strange feeling, returning to one’s home country after an extended leave. An odd flip flop where that which has always been totally familiar is now absolutely foreign.

We landed in Philadelphia after a delay departing Cancun. Other than the fact that it would cause my mother (who was picking us up in Maine) some hassle I could have cared less if we were delayed, grounded for the indefinite future or sent home by way of Timbuktu. The reality of it was that I didn’t want to go home. Going home meant no more traveling.

Thank god we had the foresight to fly in and out of Maine. We now had 2 months to leisurely make our way across the country. This softened the blow a bit.

While waiting for our connecting flight we wandered the airport looking for something to eat. We settled on a pizza joint and Randy placed our order. The nice woman behind the counter said “Will that be all?” and Randy responded “Si”. Quickly realizing his mistake and with a thwap of palm to forehead in the spirit of Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!”, he changed his response to “Yes”. What were all these people doing… speaking in English. It was very strange.

In addition, people appeared to be actually drinking water from little spouting taps placed strategically around the airport. Didn’t they know? That stuff could be very dangerous.

After we finished our pizza, we made a bathroom pit stop before continuing to our gate for our next departure. My children were utterly perplexed. “Mom, there’s no basket next to the toilet”. Yeah, so? “So what are we supposed to do with our toilet paper?”. Oh right. We hadn’t actually flushed a piece of toilet paper in nearly 6 months. In much of the world, small baskets are provided next to the toilet to place your used paper in since actually flushing the stuff would cause some major issues with the system. At first it was a little gross but we quickly adjusted. Even now, a month after returning to the US, if there is a basket near the toilet the kids will throw the paper in it. 6 months is, after all, a large percentage of their flushing life. Habits are hard to break.

In addition to the language, the water and the toilets, we are also adjusting back to the safety laws here in the States. Seat belts and bike helmets for example, are something we have become accustomed to NOT wearing. We did our best to prep the kids for re-entry into our litigious homeland… where someone can successfully sue McDonalds for serving hot coffee and personal responsibility seems to be a dirty word. Well, technically two words. The kids are doing fine, not surprisingly. They squawk a little bit about the seat belts and Josh every now and then will take off on his bike without a helmet grinning all the while as if to say “just try and catch me” but Randy and I can’t seem to get as worked up about the small stuff. Before we left the country, if anyone in the van unclipped their seatbelt for even a millisecond the safety alarm sounded… imagine red lights flashing, siren blaring, parents freaking out and announcing “clip your seatbelt child before you get yourself killed!” No matter that we may have been in 10 MPH traffic, inching along. Now we glance nonchalantly into the back of the van and if something is amiss we calmly mention that they should clip back in.

We’ve always allowed the kids to “joy ride” or, to ride without seat belts when we are up in the mountains on a dirt road or really anywhere “out in the boonies”. The boundary of the boonies got bigger while we were away. While traveling, I enjoyed being able to make safety decisions for myself and my family based on my own judgement and ability to assess the risks associated with a given activity. In our world of lawsuits and blame games that personal responsibly is often replaced with blanket laws that are meant to protect (and often do) but in reality also remove our ability to take responsibility for our personal safety. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think seat belts and bike helmets are a bad idea it’s just that I enjoy the power to deem them necessary when I feel they are. I chuckle at the toddler riding a tricycle at the speed of a turtle, sitting a foot and a half off the ground, wearing a helmet. I mean… really. I wonder if Seattle’s bike helmet law actually applies to toddlers on trikes.

The good things about coming home? I loved going to the grocery store. The first time I went, I didn’t buy a thing. I just wandered the aisles looking at all the tasty things I’d missed. It was overwhelming and I left empty handed. In time, I went back and filled our cooler with organic strawberries, cream top yogurt, fresh veggies, pasta and other tasty treats that we hadn’t had in months. It was heaven.

It’s been nice to see our family. We’ve visited my family in Maine and Randy’s Dad in Indiana along with a host of friends from both states. We are all excited to get to Seattle and see the rest of our friends and family.

It was really awesome to get back to our clothes. After months of wearing the same few t shirts and ill fitting Peruvian pants, it was dreamy to put on my cozy, worn, torn at the knees blue jeans. I may never take them off.

We were all happy to get back into Bessie, our sweet ’86 Vanagon. After months of public transportation, it was a luxury to be in control of our locomotion once again. There will be no violent Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in our van.

Home again.

So far, the number one question people have asked is, “So, are you glad to be (almost) home?” It’s a complicated question and one that confuses me. I don’t really know how to answer it. It’s not accurate to say no. Of course I’m happy at the idea of home. I can’t wait to see friends and family and I’m ecstatic at the idea of getting back into my kitchen and switching on my espresso machine to make a mouth wateringly wonderful coffee. The garden will need some attention and I’ll have the bountiful season of summer in front of me for culinary creating.

Bodhi is excited to see his friends. I think he’s really missed them. Joshua is just happy in general. I’m not sure he cares one way or the other but I do know he’s excited to unpack some toys.

I posed the question to Randy and he’s so maddeningly in the present that he could only answer with I’m excited for the next 5 weeks and to be traveling on this road trip across the country. I’m not sure it’s dawned on him that we are going home. He seems to refuse to jump ahead to that point in the future for fear he will miss something in the present moment. How the hell does he do that?

Another way to pose the question would be “Are you glad to be (almost) done with traveling?”. The answer to that question is easy. No! I’m not nearly done! I feel as though I could spend months traveling across the country and after returning for a month or two to Seattle to catch up with folks and sip some tasty Joe, I’d be over the moon to get on a plane and keep going. Where would I go? I don’t know but the list of possibilities is long. Wanderlust is a serious affliction. It’s a big world out there and I have miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep…

(Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening)



  1. Stacy, Kate and I have enjoyed reading about your adventures. As our kids are around the same age gap, it makes me want to pick up and leave as well. Let us know if you’ll be driving through NM, we can give you some tips on what to see if you do. Other than that, we’d love to stop by and say hi early August on our annual trip.

    • Thanks Geoff. Not sure if we will make it to New Mexico, though we’d love to…it’s one of our favorite states. We’d love to see you and your family this summer in Seattle. Please do let us know when you are in town!

  2. Thanks again for blogging about your adventures. I’ve really enjoyed reading them. Much as I love my home, I ALWAYS have that aching pang to travel, so I can relate. Hope your adjustment home is smooth.

    • Thanks for reading along! I hope you get out on an adventure soon.

  3. Savor the rest of your time and know that you have set many of us to contemplating some of life’s deeper questions (as well as chuckling quite a bit!) with your reflections, Stace. We will look forward to seeing you when you get home!

  4. Hey Stacy, it’ll be grand to see you around again, but I’ll miss your personal & cultural updates from far-flung places. Really. I will. See you soon, probably at PCC! xo Jennifer

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