Why life on the road feels more like "home" for our family than anywhere else
“Mama, go home now?” requested The World’s Cutest Human today as we stood staring at the jaw dropping sight of a colony of hundreds of Northern Gannet birds nesting on Île Bonaventure off the coast of Percé in the Québec Maritime.
I paused and smiled. Home. That was the first time she referred to the trailer as “home.”
That simple word caught my attention because as we’ve been hiking and exploring Nova Scotia and Cape Breton over the past few weeks, I can’t help but notice that we pass very few young people and families. Perhaps it’s the time of year, but older retired couples who seem to be on the same adventure as us — just a few years later — and middle aged couples on vacation make up the majority of voyagers who cross our path.
When I pass those vacationers in soak-it-up mode on a trail, I can’t help but think back to the endless number of times in my life a friend or colleague returned from a trip and upon asking them how the voyage was, they respond, “It was totally inspiring (relaxing/rejuvenating/amazing/etc.)! But I sure couldn’t wait to get home to my own house and my own bed!”
I could never relate to that. That’s the chip our family is missing. We don’t crave a return to a permanent, static “home.” We’d rather home follows us and our nomadic wandering hearts.
Our lives in New York City during the past three years — professional and personal — happily involved a massive amount of travel. I remember once standing in the middle of the Miami airport (I mean in the dead center of the main walkway facing all the terminals; I could not have been more in the way or making more of a scene if I tried) crying because I didn’t want to fly home (okay fine, I was third trimester pregnant and therefore raging with hormones, but still). I can’t remember one time that we flew back to New York or New Jersey where we felt excited or relieved. We usually felt disappointed and depressed. Our family has always just been happier growing and learning on the move.
Sure, it felt good to climb into our bed at home after each trip, because our bed was crazy comfortable and there isn’t a bed in the world that compares (even at the Ritz, I tried). Our showers were equally rewarding. But now we’ve brought our bed, just as it was in Jersey City, on the road with us. And everything else we need.
I found home off the road to be little more than a mundane routine of chores and self-assigned responsibilities that passed the time. Though I tried to make some sort of adventure out of every day for the World’s Cutest Human and I — even if it was just a run to the park — it never felt satisfying. It felt draining, like a slow-chokehold on my soul and sanity. Though our apartment was big and beautiful, and I loved decorating it when we moved in and walking around admiring it for the next fifteen months, most of the time it was just a pretty big mess that I could never keep up with. So I mostly gave up, put on a pair of mental blinders and felt badly about myself and my abilities as a HouseMom. A poor stick by which to judge your self worth, if you ask the me that truly cares.
Conversely, I find that routine chores take up only a fraction of my day on the road, where we operate as a complete team. Hell, I can spit-clean our entire little trailer to a shine in a couple hours. Fewer physical things leave a lot of time to fill with experience. We’re also forced to keep up with the dishes and cleaning as we go along, or we quickly become paralyzed and unable to move around and function in such a small space. It’s a lesson in discipline with a reward in freedom, and it makes me much happier.
So for us, as fellow road warriors often say, “Home is where you park it.” Just as our little one finally acknowledged today, filling my nomadic heart with deep pride.