Busses have not been a part of our lives since we left Lima, seven weeks ago today, but today Anna and Zeke got on the school bus for the first time since December. I think we are all excited about the beginning of school; for me, at least, it is another step in returning to “normal” life.
Of the (almost) seven weeks since our return, we have spent about two of those away from home – with Leticia’s folks, at Loomis and Weber gatherings, with friends in Rhode Island. That part – staying somewhere for a night or two or seven – seems pretty routine. It is the rest of the time, when we are at home with all of our possessions and responsibilities, that seems strange. Our house seems like a normal house, but it also seems like there should be ten to twenty other people living in it with us. It seems like we have an incredible amount of stuff – natural, I suppose, because (1) we are used to having our stuff fit into four backpacks and (2) we do (like most North Americans) have an incredible amount of stuff. It is one thing to walk away from the stuff, knowing you can come back in half a year, and quite another to actively try to get rid of lots of it. Nonetheless, I think having lots of stuff makes me feel less free, so I am trying to thin a bit.
People ask “How was the trip?” In a word, I can say that it was great, but to really describe it, I think I have to tell various anecdotes to build up the big picture. Better yet, I could just tell them to read the blog. (I haven’t.) At times the things we did (and the things we survived) are amazing to me. In general, we don’t try to bring up our January crash, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. And the looks on people’s faces as we describe it are a reminder of just how rough it really was.
People ask “Are you happy to be home?” I think that Anna and Zeke are. Zeke, who was missing his bicycle greatly the last two months, can ride circles around the yard for a long time. He is happier if someone rides with him, and so I have. The longer I ride, the longer he rides (Anna too), and so I have ridden as much as six miles at a time on the 100 meter loop that circles the clothesline, the pumphouse, the cars, the basketball goal, the locust tree, the teepee, the sandbox, and the pear tree. Anna is happy to have lots of books to read, to see friends, and to have her own space again. We have had lots of good reconnection with family and friends, made sweeter by the time away.
But Leticia and I still are not sure we wouldn’t rather be on the road. After all the time in South America, life in the United States seems less vital, less challenging, less … alive, in a sense. As I write this, I know that I do so as a member of an affluent society with a healthy family, a good job, a comfortable home, and no real money worries – not the case for everyone in the USA. And maybe I will feel differently once I am employed again (as of next week). Leticia recently said “I like my travelling self better than my home self”, and I may feel the same way. Do we want to live in South America full-time? Well, no. Our roots, our families (most of them), and our friends (most of them), are here, and being away for good is farther than we want to be. And yet we are both thinking about how we can take things we have learned while travelling and use them to improve our lives here.