Six months on the road and thoughts on homesickness

by Kim on November 14, 2012 · 31 comments

It’s been six months since we left our life in Oregon and three months since we left the U.S for South America. We’ve visited the Galapagos Islands, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and canoed down a river in the Amazon Jungle. Our trip so far has been an amazing whirlwind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I feel supremely lucky.

But I would be holding something back if I did not tell you that there are times when I am incredibly homesick. I miss the small comforts of home. I miss having a home. I miss familiar food in the grocery store, I miss walking my dogs in the autumn twilight.

Brian and I with our dogs right before we left Portland

I miss the small things that I used to take so much joy in: A run through the forest with friends, a bonfire in the back yard, even a clean house. Yes, I admit it, I miss cleaning my house, the satisfaction of finding everything in its place again.

I miss my sisters and my parents in a way that I never did when I lived in Oregon, though they lived thousands of miles away in Ohio. I miss the little things that make up a life: Lunch dates and birthdays and Christmas stockings. Back patios and neighbors and gardens and bookshelves.

Me and my Dad

I don’t mean to imply that I want to go home or that I am not enjoying traveling. I love seeing the world and I know our time to go home will come soon enough, even if we end up traveling for years. It’s just that traveling has shown me what matters to me back home. I don’t think I would have been so sure of these things had I not left them. It’s a gift that traveling has given me.

So this is the paradox of my life on the road: Intense moments when my heart aches for home and other moments where it aches just as intensely to move on to the next place and the next place and the next. I am just as divided as I have always been.This eternal itch has served me well, but I wonder, will I ever feel completely satisfied? (This reminds me of one of my favorite poems which you should definitely read here).

I can’t help but think that perhaps after all this wandering the road will lead Brian and I back to our families and that maybe, for the first time, I’ll be okay with that.

In the meantime, though, there is a whole world left to see and I am anxious to explore it. 

So here I am, checking in at the six-month mark, and traveling has been so much more of a journey than I thought it would be. As Miriam Beard said, ‘Travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.’ This has certainly been true for me.

Six months on this unbelievable journey and I wish for us many, many more to come. It is a diverse, gorgeous, complicated planet that we have the fortune to live on and I feel incredibly blessed to roam it.