What’s it like to be back?
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T. S. Eliot
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Portland was the pits. Rainy, very cold, expensive. Drying out wet gear in bus was impossible. Fighting the mold. Shelby kept breaking down. But ya know, living the dream! We checked into a cheap airport hotel. I kept filling the cleaners bins with rubbish from shelby and felt guilty. The flight to Auckland simultaneously dragged on forever but also felt too fast. I was accustomed to covering land at the speed of the bus, flying felt uncomfortable.
We arrived on Kawau Island the next morning. I just stood there soaking it up…. the clear green ocean water and its gentle waves. All the spring and summer flowers are blooming. There are butterflies at the waters edge. Palms and ferns and songbirds. The warm sun. Whats next? A harp player. Rainbows and dolphins. Probably. But seriously. People actually live in these little houses at the waters edge? This is us for the next 3 months! Are you kidding me? It was unbelievably beautiful, and I was seeing it all with new eyes. Home sweet home. I’m never leaving.
One of the hardest aspects of life on the road was lack of hot showers. It was easy at first – seemed laughable in comparison to our new found freedom. But after months and months sporadic showering, you start to dream at night of while tile bathrooms. Do you know what long term van lifers talk about around the fire? People who have been traveling for years? They talk about their dream bathrooms that they are going to build someday.
Here at Kawau, next to the caravan, was a brand new wooden outdoor shower. Clean, hot, great pressure. I pulled the curtain, felt the sun on my body and stood under the water. I looked up at the flowers in the tress. Thank God. I don’t have to google where to sleep tonight. Thank God. I can shower.
We arrived back in the mount and I was surprised how chilled out New Zealanders are. I guess I’d forgotten. Everyone is so nice! Even at the doctors office… I didn’t know an answer on the new enrollment form, “make something up” the receptionist said. Then “Oh just sign your husband’s signature.” Yup, I’m certainly not in America anymore!
“When going back makes sense, you are going ahead.” Wendell Berry
Life on the road was exciting and challenging … and we could have kept going, kept living in the bus. We could have driven south to Mexico and then on and on through Central and South America. But we didn’t want to. Why? Because we wanted the kids to have a base … to feel a sense of belonging. And so did they.
So it is good to be back.