Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Wee Things I Miss....

After the question, Are you alone? and Where are you from?, “What do you miss most on your trip?” is one of the more frequently asked questions.  In the first few months, the list was small, actually nil, now 6 months later, it has started to grow.

Yes, there are a ton of restaurants in New Zealand, but I missed cooking, especially my favorite recipes!

I miss some small, insignificant things, such as food that comes in the form of weird cravings.  I didn’t realize how much I missed cottage cheese, for instance, until it caught my eye in the grocery store when I arrived in New Zealand and I had two containers back-to-back for lunch and dinner.  I missed chocolate all throughout SE Asia, but I quickly curbed that craving when I arrived here.  Before coming to New Zealand, I had missed conversations in English (Spanish or Catalan would have done as well) where you could really go more in depth and actually have an interesting or deep conversation without struggling with the language.  I missed seeing outdoorsy people, dressed in their rugged mountain attire wearing hiking boots, driving camper vans or cars with kayaks strapped to the top or bikes hanging off racks on the back.

These guys receive a postcard from me every month, I'm dying to see them in person though.
When I ask kids at schools what they think I miss most they usually say my friends and family.  Yes, they are one of the three things I miss most with my life on the road.  However, I'm used to living far from family and friends, I've been abroad for a little over 10 years, and away from home since college.  Usually I visit twice a year.  However, I worked all through last summer and missed my normal visit, which means February break of 2013 was the last time I had been home.  Since then, there has been a new addition to the family and I’m dying to see Owen, my new little nephew.  I Skype with them frequently, and now that my parents are here, it seems as though I just saw them yesterday!  We’ve been able to catch up, talk, and laugh telling funny stories just like any other one of my visits.  They haven’t changed at all, and neither have I, except for some stronger legs on me. 

Mom and Dad, nothing changes! It made my trip to meet them in New Zealand!

Once I have little Owen in my hands, I don't think I'm going to let go!
I do miss being around people who know me and my history and vice versa.  Sometimes I feel like I’m a broken record repeating my brief introduction when strangers ask about me out on the road. It does feel weird that my friends in Barcelona who were by my side for the past 10 years have suddenly taken on the title of Friends from when I lived in  Barcelona….. Just like the friends I have when I was in York, Alfred, and Oregon…..I do miss my family, but I’m used to being away from home.  I haven’t lived in Oregon for a loong time.  

Never had taught all sweaty in a bike kit before,...the kids didn't care and neither did I, we had a great time.

When I visit schools, I realize how much I miss my students.  After my school visits in Penang, I left with a feeling of longing to be back in the classroom, around those lively active minds all day long!  I would have stayed with the kids at Fairview International School and continued on with their unit in energy, or gladly helped out in Singapore where they had me talking about maintaining a healthy lifestyle looking at physical, mental and social health.  I enjoyed preparing those talks because it made me reflect on my trip in a way I hadn’t before and then I had to figure out how to communicate this to a young primary audience.  It made me eager to be back in the classroom and I started reminiscing about my years at BFIS.  In fact, two weeks ago, I found myself a click away from applying for a job opening at my dream school.  It was a real struggle to refrain and in the end I emailed the principal and luckily it had been filled.  I say “luckily” because if the position was still available, I don’t know if I would have been able to refrain from applying in order to continue my trip until the October 2014.  I have to remind myself that I have the rest of my life to teach, and I can’t say the same about this year.  It might not be possible or as easy to do later on.  

This is my current home

The third and final thing I miss might seem silly, but I’ve just recently started to notice it more and more.  I miss intimacy!  No, not in the sense of a companion or a relationship, per say, but privacy.  I’m constantly out in the public eye and exposed to the world on the road.  I can pull over and rest, stop at a restaurant or café, or find a field where I can camp, but it’s never truly my space to be alone,….somewhere that is mine, a place I’ve created and feels like home.  For the past 6 months, I’ve been portable, constantly on the go, and almost never in the same place two nights in a row.  Home tonight is a motel room, last night it was the guest bedroom at a friend’s relative house, and the night before that in my tiny little tent.  My possessions all fit in my 5 bags on my bike, and that might not seem like much, but right now, I wish I had half that weight as I struggle on this unforgiving terrain on the south island.

Yes I do miss these things, but I know that I won’t spend the rest of my life on my bike (or at least I think I won’t). Thankfully, I'm able to put this experience in perspective.  My day-to-day life on the road is manageable and fun because of my outlook on the whole experience.  I try to think in terms of each day and not always the big picture. One days turns into two, three, then 190, my current day tally, which will soon become 425 days or 14 months.  The Loong Way Home is a once in a lifetime experience, that I cherish each day because of all the experiences it brings.  From the sights I see, to the people I meet, and the different cultures I experience, it is hard for me to dwell on the things I don’t have or miss.  In fact it really amazes me that I can go this long without some of these things and still be happy, fulfilled, and motivated to continue pedaling tomorrow.

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