“What happens when we go home? Do we just work till we die?”
(October 21, 2013, filed under Shit My Husband Says)
For the past six months, I’ve lived in a perpetual state of flux. I’ve never known what the week ahead will bring, let alone what lies in store for us the next day. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with uncertainty, and now, it’s time to get used to routine again. To get up in the morning knowing, more or less, what to expect from the coming 24 hours.
I’m not unhappy about that. I could use some structure again. I want some of the conventional things that society dictates I should want, and I’m not ashamed to admit it: a steady income, a house of my own, maybe even a pet and kids someday.
What I don’t want is to sink into mundanity. The older you get, the faster the time seems to go, and I don’t want to lose precious weeks or days to a forgettable rote existence. I want to make memories, not just once a year, but throughout the year. A life that doesn’t warrant escape. One without the Monday blues. And I want this for both T and myself, with the knowledge that I’m much further along this path than he is, and that it’ll take work to craft that mutually happy existence.
If our priorities change, a few months or a few years from now, then maybe we could do this again. Work and save for a few years, travel for a while, then come home, rinse and repeat. Maybe we can craft a lifestyle where we work for 10 months a year and travel for 2. Or maybe we’ll choose the traditional middle-class route, and treasure the memory of the last six months like a precious stone, bringing it out every so often to admire, polish, and remind ourselves that once upon a time we were young and carefree with the whole world in front of us.
Work till we die, or work till we retire. Sound depressing? In a sense, it is … but it’s only a terrifying thought if we fail to make the most of life in between – in our careers, in our relationships, in our hobbies.
I think finding joy in the routine is a challenge that we all face – good luck to you guys in finding it as you return to “normal”.
I often find myself looking out the window all sorts of cliche and thinking “Is this all there is? Is this really what I’m doing for the rest of my life?” It’s awful. Not all the time, but for some moments… blarg.
You never know where your head will be in a few years. You may decide to take up a hobby or side hustle that doesn’t work well if you’re traveling a lot. You may end up really enjoying staying close to home or just traveling every five years or so. The best approach is to try to allow yourself that flexibility. Save so you can travel or take extended time off if you’d like to, but don’t manufacture regrets if you decide not to do it.
I feel that way sometimes even if I’m gone a week! I can’t imagine being gone for six months and having to adjust. But I’m sure you will. I also can’t believe it’s been six months. It seems like just yesterday you left. Looking forward to hanging out with you today!
My thing from the past 3-4 years of freelancing has been to work, take time off, work, take time off. I seem to follow a pattern of working (no matter how long or short), and then taking a year off. With baby on the way, that year will be a little more than a year.. more like a year and a half, but it’s a lifestyle I chose of what I think can be called “on-and-off semi retirement”, only made possible by my income.
Otherwise, finding a balance is very difficult unless you can live on peanuts.
That would be a hard transition! I was just texting with my friend today who has spent the last 8 weeks in South America and her transition home is going to be hard, but after 6 months of traveling! Yes, that will definitely be tough. We are in a stage of our life where we do one trip per year usually lasting 1 – 2 weeks. Right now we are saving for 2 weeks in Ireland and Scotland in the spring. While sometimes I feel envious of those who do extended travel I think I just value routine too much. I know after only three weeks in Europe I was itching to get back to my normal routine so I think that doing one bigger vacation per year and lots of little weekend getaways will be how we travel!
Safe travels home! Sorry again I JUST missed you in Chicago 🙁
I will miss the posts from what for many people is a dream trip, but definitely understand wanting some regularity in your life. As for what you do when you get back home, it’s all up to you. Just don’t let laziness and the TV get in the way of doing things that you want to do!
A while back, I read an article online (probably in the New York Times, but I don’t remember) that said that one way to make your life slow down as the years pass is to always be learning something new. Since my boyfriend and I are definitely not travelers, this is the route that we will take. I will continue studying Chinese and English literature and he will happily play chess and we will be awesome people.
There does seem to be a precedent for Kiwi’s and Aussie’s to do the travel cycle thing. Sometimes I wonder if you lot really have it all figured out because it sounds like a great way to make the most of life while you go through it, rather than waiting for the end to really live. One thing won’t change though – all the memories you made while you’re away!
That is one of the best quotes ever. It really resonated with me and is the reason I am so eager to get out of debt. I want to live MY LIFE and not be indebted working for someone else’s life. Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures and routine will be a nice comfort. Enjoy the ride!
I always feel like this at the end of a vacation (and sometimes in the midst of one) – I just get so bogged down by the mundaneness of life. It’s just feels so BORING compared to the way I feel when I’m on vacation. And this is only after a week or so – I couldn’t imagine 6 months of it!
But I also like routine and I like working and I like being busy. I wish I could afford to travel more and that my work gave me better paid time off options but America is just not built for stuff like this, I don’t think. (I get 5 days off total in my first year. 10 days in my 2nd – 5th.) Sigh. Jealousies you got to do something so wonderful and I hope you find the transition easier than you imagined!
The end is pretty brutal, when you get back changed and realize no one around you has changed. It is good to help you weed toxic relationships. Also, employers value overseas experiences. I thought I would be able to go back to 9 to 5 but no.
You’re right – it is only depressing if you don’t make the most of life outside of work. Even if you adore your job, it sounds depressing. I haven’t gone on a long term trip yet, but I hope to one day to that.
I remember reading your About section and noting that you’re an ISFJ. One of my best friends is an ISFJ and that’s why I remember that bit. Based on what I know about my friend, I can see you being drawn to the stability of a home and a regular job. It definitely sounds like you’re content with the situation, which is great. 🙂 I’d be interested to read about how you adjust to life at home in the coming months.