(No, that's not Portugal - that is Salt in our very first pitch of the Aventura just outside of Laguna Beach, CA, August 31, 2011.)
We wondered when this day would come; the day when the pain of shipping everything over pales in comparison to the prospective joy of being home.
Although we are still thinking the return day is five or six months away, we have stopped telling people that we will be doing this for “a year or two, we have no plans” and instead have begun talking to each other about what our future looks like back in the USA.
I am not sure when it started, I did have that bout of homesickness upon arrival in Portugal, but I thought I had put it to rest. We could blame it on our British neighbors here at Touriscampo: They have been gone from England for eight months (“well, we fly home every six weeks or so to visit”—so unfair!) and are returning home within thirty days. Two sets of them. And it sounds so easy to just hop on a ferry, drive a few miles and be done. The enormity of shipping everything back makes me want to get started on it right now. (Once an “A” type, always an “A” type.) Although I am quite sure it will be much easier the second time around.
There is more to it than homesickness. Undoubtedly we are fortunate to be able to take this time to discover new countries in a way you just don’t get to experience when you are only here for a week or two. But the elongated time away has also provided a different perspective on home: We now see the importance of living in a community where you feel safe, valued and integral. I am not sure we have found that community yet; that will be part of our journey when we reach the US once again, and the start of that process is driving a lot of our desire to return.
Truth be told, we have discovered that this life, as interesting as it can be, is often quite one-dimensional. There is not enough intellectual stimulation (I can only practice my French so often) nor is there enough competitive stimulation. (Alas, SP refuses to play chess with me—something I think would solve two issues at once!) I miss club tennis and, (here it comes) the thrill of demo’ing software (not to mention the paycheck.) We both miss having interests outside of each other, The Noses, and the worry of something breaking down.
So now we have something to discuss when we are bored with our in-between stops, as we are experiencing right now. Still in Luz, Portugal, waiting for the doctor’s clearance to head to Spain for some hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The new time constraint, however arbitrary, is forcing us to determine where we want to focus our attention. We will be spending time in Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia (because so many people have recommended it) and hopefully Austria, Montenegro and Croatia before heading home. But that is quite a list and quite a bit of driving in five to six months. We used to think every country in Europe was so close together, but when your gaze lands first on the petrol prices, the countries appear much farther apart.
As to where to land on US soil? That is indeed the million dollar question. Given the time of year (winter) and our past experience in the snow, it will likely be on one of the sunnier sections of the country.