Adjusting to life on the road

by Kim on June 7, 2012 · 49 comments

A tear for my career

I have been out of my job for a month now.  A whole month!  That’s just insane to me.

While I don’t exactly miss the day-to-day of work, I have found myself unexpectedly mourning my career.  It’s clear now that I didn’t fully understand how much I identified with what I did until I didn’t do it anymore.

I remember feeling a similar way when we sold our house. I took pride in owning a home.  When we moved into an apartment I had to collect that pride and redistribute it, point it towards that unchanging core inside of me. I had to learn that living in a house or an apartment or out of a backpack was just an external detail, my living quarters don’t define me. Likewise, my job is not who I am and I am not less of a person without it. 

The perception of time

Time is speeding by in a different way than it did when I was working.  When I worked, the days would move glacially slow but the weeks would disappear in a blur. When I looked back on a week it was hard to distinguish one day from another. With my routine: rise-work-run-work-home-dinner-bed, most days were just slight variations of each other.

Now, the days fly by.  Many days it’s 5 p.m. before I even know it and I marvel at how easy it is to not do much and let the day slip away.  My purpose now, still in Ohio, is just to spend quality time with family.  So I have long conversations over dinner.  I visit and laugh and reminisce. I itch to move on from Ohio and start exploring yet these moments are precious and I am enjoying every one of them.

Me and my dad

Relationship growing pains

The dynamic of Brian and I’s relationship is changing once again and we are having growing pains, trying to find that comfortable spot where we co-exist peacefully, trying to flesh out our new roles as we figure out who we are, individually and as a couple, in this new environment.

While we were in New York we had a ridiculous and intense fight in Times Square over a $3.90 cup of gelato (I wanted it, Brian didn’t think we should spend the money). I wasn’t angry about Brian’s opinion on the gelato but I was taken aback that he so passionately lobbied for the cause.

In NYC, mere hours before the gelato fight

I’m used to managing the money in our relationship, and I’m used to being the frugal one, so the role reversal threw me for a loop.  During the fight it dawned on me that, for the first time in our relationship, Brian and I don’t have our own pots of money. We’ve always jointly contributed to shared expenses but kept our own accounts so that we each had the freedom to spend our money as we pleased.

This shared money, it’s an adjustment so small it didn’t even register to me before we stumbled upon it, but it feels big in the moment. We’re in that phase where many small adjustments are revealing themselves all at once and we are bickering ourselves to death.

Missing Portland

In my quiet moments, usually right before bed, I ache for our life in Portland with an intensity that sometimes brings we to tears.  I miss our friends, I miss our quirky city, I miss running in the forest, I miss the mountains. Life there already feels so far away.

This too, I know, is part of the journey.  To love something and leave it.  To open myself up to the rest of the world, to risk the known for the unknown and to hope that there is meaning there. To embrace the many emotions that are woven together into the net I use to catch my dreams. To love them, even.

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel June 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

Did he get upset about the $8 beers? Shawn and I split our expenses until we got married. Once we started using a joint account, it got weird. I made more money, but I had more debt. I go out more, he drinks more of the beer. You wouldn’t believe how many fights we had over little stuff. But you’re right, it’ll settle down once you figure out your roles in this new scenario.

It should be easy to away from Portland right now as it’s pouring down rain and 50 degrees. It misses you, though. And by it, I mean me.

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm

No, he wasn’t upset about the $8 beers because he wanted an $8 beer! Or, rather, we were both upset about the cost of beer so at least we were on the same page.

I hate to say it, but I’m glad the weather is crappy in Portland. It makes me miss it less!

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Torre – Fearful Adventurer June 7, 2012 at 8:57 am

Gorgeous piece, as usual.

Maybe you should create a special savings-within-your-savings for the gelato moments? That way, you can have a certain amount of $$ for special indulgences—gelato, a nice hotel, a new pair of shorts, etc. Otherwise you’ll deprive yourselves of joy (there’s a lot of joy in gelato) and feel guilty when you spend on anything that’s not 100% necessary. Alternatively, you could spend your friends’ donated money on the gelato moments. A worthy cause, IMO. :)

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Amy June 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Such a well written and authentic piece. It is an adjustment a huge one. We used to have two accounts and in the last couple of years we opted to not do that anymore and to combine which has really really helped us see our finances as a team effort. One of still has to be the “banker” and call it like it is but it has really helped us be clear and not one of us is always the “banker” sometimes me sometimes not. Fighting over money isn’t worth it. I think Torre is on to something with the splurge fund. I think you will need to nice hotels, and nice dinners, and splurges now and again or you will feel deprived at times. This too shall pass.

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Yes, this too shall pass I know. Such a weird transition. I WANT to have my own money… maybe we’ll figure out a way to divvy it up as “his and hers” even though we make decisions about who to spend together. Who knows how it will work out…

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

There is definitely a lot of joy in gelato.

I think you are right, we do need to create a savings within the savings for splurges. I think it will happen eventually, once we figure out how to manage the money. It’s so strange right now…

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Trish June 7, 2012 at 9:09 am

Can I tell you how much I relate to this post? I read it twice saying”Yes, I know!” My fiancee and I are leaving for our RTW trip in September. I quit my full time job a few months ago and have been consulting until we leave which is why I can relate to the time sentiment you shared. Same goes with the financial part. And, I am planning a wedding and an around the world trip on top of it. Keep the posts coming. I love reading them!

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Trish! I cannot even imagine planning an RTW AND a wedding. Wow, you are a brave woman ;)

I’m glad you can relate to this. You are not alone (and neither am I)!

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Living Outside of the Box June 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

It certainly is an adjustment as you redefine everything, again! But in a whole new context this time! Congrats on venturing out and on the future of your entire lives!

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Thank you :)

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Luanne Zoller June 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

It is just anxiety over the big step of traveling. No big whoop!

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I like the way you think!

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Brad June 7, 2012 at 10:58 am

Kim, if it makes you feel any better, on a recent stroll through the woods some banana slugs arranged themselves to form out the words, “LET BRIAN AND KIM KNOW WE WILL BE HERE WHEN THEY NEED US.”

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Brad, what I love about you is that your sweet messages always come to us right when we need them- like your voicemail the other day. We are so blessed to have you guys.

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Amy June 7, 2012 at 11:47 am

Kim, you really are a gifted writer. You perfectly captured the turmoil that comes with shaking up your lives. It takes a while to work it all out but it will all fall into place. My husband and I bickered to death during our trip, but we emerged on the other end with a stronger relationship than when we started.

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Amy, that certainly is reassuring to hear. I’m pretty sure this is just the beginning of our constant bickering.

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erica June 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Another great post! Keep writing like this while on the road..
What you describe is exactly the fear that I have when I think about leaving in 6 months. You will both have to adjust to your “new you” now that you have really left. I am sure you will do great and become accustom to your new lives soon! Enjoy it while getting into your new vibes…

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Hi Erica, I really hope we do get accustomed to it soon. Those damn learning curves are tough…

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Hannah June 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Beautiful words from a beautiful soul. It’s such a joy to be able to share in the evolution of your new life Kim. No matter how many gelato moments you guys experience as you find your way, I have no doubt that you will handle them all with grace and dignity. And then please come and tell us all about them :)

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thank you Hannah :) It is an honor to tell you the stories.

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Cindy June 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

For someone about to set off in 3 days time, this was the frankness and honesty I needed.

It reassures me that the stresses my other half and I are experiences are normal and part of the traveling transition. I think in our case, with three small children in tow our ‘gelato moments’ started a little earlier.

Thank you I needed to read this this morning.

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Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Cindy, our gelato moments definitely started before that defining “gelato moment.” But, yes, I think it is normal. At least, I hope it is… it is happening for us and I’m sure for others (like you guys). Best of luck to you guys, and safe travels.

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Emma June 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I read this and thought I was reading my travel diary! My husband and I were the same while we were saving for our 2011 trip. We saved as much as we could and got jointly excited about that but we each had our own weekly “allowance” up until we stopped earning income. When we arrived in Santiago on the first day of our trip we realised that one of us had to be the ‘banker’ as you call it and it was very strange. He wanted to spend more than we had and I had to keep him in line. He often moaned about our tight budget and I had to reassure him that living cheaply in South America was still better than earning big bucks and being miserable in Australia. Now the tables have turned as we save for our next trip and he has become the ultimate miser! He thinks about every dollar and actually annoys me with his tightness sometimes. I think we have come full circle and look forward to letting him be the banker on the next trip. Also – nothing to do with money but we went into that trip an engaged couple who were mad about each other but had never really been out of our comfort zones together – and returned married and best friends, knowing we could do anything. That trip totally changed us, we are so much better for it!
Have a fabulous time!

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Kim June 8, 2012 at 5:29 am

Thank you, such a great lesson. Did you get married on the road? Yeah, this money detail is going to have to work itself out. It was REALLY hard in NYC especially. That place is so dang expensive.

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Emma June 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Yes we got married in the Cook Islands on the way back to New Zealand from South America. Very minimalist wedding but we loved it!

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Sounds AMAZING!

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Patricia GW June 8, 2012 at 5:30 am

Don’t worry, Portland isn’t gone forever, it will be there again when you visit back again. I know it hurts, and your family made such happy memories there; if you look at it from the other side, if you had stayed and never gone on this big adventure you’re starting now, you would have ended up regretting it. You’re opening yourself up to love more places, and create new happy memories. I hope you and Brian adjust comfortably to your new lifestyle, and enjoy some gelato together.

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

You are absolutely right. I knew that if we didn’t leave to travel I would always regret that we didn’t go. I mourn Portland but I am glad we made the decision we did.

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Jeff June 8, 2012 at 5:57 am

Travel is a huge adjustment and it will be full of more extreme ups and downs. But, this is where real learning and experience happens, and it’s so worth it.

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Lots of ups and downs! But these peaks and valleys are better than dull fold I was living in before…

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Ali June 8, 2012 at 9:01 am

I can relate to this in so many ways. I know you read my “one year of unemployment” post last week – can’t believe how much I defined myself with a job, especially since I didn’t even like mine. The money thing is weird too. I’m currently not making any significant income, but Andy and I have separate bank accounts. It doesn’t make sense, so I think I’m going to close mine, but it feels so weird. It causes me a lot of stress but I know I’ll get used to it all soon. I’m happy to be here and not in my old job, but I really miss my friends back home and even some of the routine I don’t have here. Sometimes I can’t find something in the apartment and I get so frustrated because some of my stuff doesn’t have a “home” yet like it did in Atlanta. Baby steps. You and Brian will both make adjustments and even out. The beginning of any big change is the hardest.

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I think it is important for us to remember that all things are a sacrifice. You like your life with Andy but you had to give some things up to have it. Change is hard and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, but it is important for us to give ourselves a break sometimes and let it be hard, you know?

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Rhonda June 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm

LOVE the sentence “the days would move glacially slow but the weeks would disappear in a blur.” OMG, it’s an exact description of where I am… endless, endless days that suddenly disappear into the next month. ugh, torture for sure!
But for you two, ahhhhhhhhh, growing pains on the road. I am sure you’ll have more gelato moments but you will get in stride and all will be well. I am sure there were some growing pains when you first moved to Portland together as well, just keep in mind it’s what happens with great transition.
I’m glad you’re appreciating your time with family and can’t wait to hear more once you’re on the road for good.
Hang in there guys!
Cheers, Jim & Rhonda

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm

There were A LOT of growing pains when we moved to Portland! That’s why I know we’ll get through. I hope the months fly by and you guys can be on the road before you know it.

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Darcy @SustainableFamilyFinances June 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Awe, Kim. Thanks for sharing your journey so honestly. I’m sure you’ll soon get settled into the new rhythm of you life on the road. Can’t believe it’s been a month already…time does really cruise. In less than two months I’ll be furnishing our beach cabins…right now I need to order the sleeper sofas and set up the website :-) Miss you.

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Yay for your beach cabins! Make sure to email me photos and the website when it’s available…

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wendy June 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm

dont worry. me and my quirky portland will be waiting for you upon your return…and you might even convince me to take a little piece of it abroad ;)

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I know you and Portland will be waiting. I MISS YOU!! Can’t wait to see you in August.

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Rica June 9, 2012 at 5:27 am

You write with your heart, Kim. :) I can’t wait to read more of your stories.

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thank you Rica :)

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Sarah Somewhere June 9, 2012 at 6:41 am

A wonderful, honest and insightful post, as always, Kim. And from the response you definitely touched a nerve with people! I think men struggle with not earning an income more than women, a HUGE generalization, I know, but men are traditionally providers, even if these days women make just as much. I actually love Brian for this, he’ll ensure you guys don’t break your budget, which is probably more important in the beginning stages of your trip! Go Brian!

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Haha, okay, I’ll give him that. We didn’t get the gelato, by the way, so I guess his thrift-ness won out this time!

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Jaimin Yoon June 10, 2012 at 5:47 am

I’ve had several occasions in my life in which I’ve been jobless, sort of drifting. There’s a wonderful freedom to not having to go in for the daily grind, but at the same time, there’s this terrible danger of letting the day slip away (in a bad sort of way).

With that said though, I think these moments are absolutely necessary, when one can take a step away from the things that he/she is “supposed to do” and reconsider what it really means to live, how short life is, and reestablish his/her priorities.

As you’ve already realized and will realize even further, life is so much more than making ends meet, securing a safe retirement, and doing the responsible thing–as defined by society.

Best wishes to you!

– jaimin

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Kim June 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Yes, yes, yes! That is exactly what this time is for: to step away from the things that we are supposed to do and reconsider what it means to live and what our priorities are and also to focus on the things we want to do.

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Barbara June 16, 2012 at 1:27 am

Awww, I fear to experience your same feelings when leaving for our RTWT. I know it’s part of life but that’s a hard part to deal with.

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Kim June 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I am happy to report that it has been a few weeks since I’ve written the post and it does seems as though things are smoothing out. It’s not an adventure if there aren’t a few bumps in the road (I’m sure there will be more!).

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