Unwelcome Homecoming!

Imagine this:

BocasDelToro-14

Calm, serene… life is going at the pace it should. At YOUR pace.

Then imagine this:

homecoming

Creative Commons via Kaysha on Flickr

You have been off the speed train of “obligations” and “commitments” for so long and everyone expects you to run full speed in the States like you never left. Welcome to your homecoming.

Oh, and then trying to become a “citizen” again. Insuring the car, going through the bureaucracy of putting it back into our name, cell phones, passport pages, doctor’s appointments, getting Shaun set up with his new job, getting new insurance, oh look, the old insurance apparently didn’t cover everything and we have a collection agency on us while we were gone?

money. Money. MONEY.

There is a reason I’ve been putting off this post as long as I could. We have been back in the States for 2 months now and I’m just getting over what happened to us.

Oh there were tears. Lots of them – and a depression so deep I’ve can’t believe I pulled myself out of it.

You don’t really expect to be slapped in your face with disappointment when you get home.

  • Two people showed up to our welcome home party when 80+ said goodbye (half because we didn’t have cellphones 2 days back in Austin).
  • Being called “lazy freeloaders who take advantage of family” by an unnamed family member.
  • Or unnamed family members not even bothering to ask us questions about our trip and just pretending we were here the whole time.
  • There were so many times I asked myself, “What am I doing here?”
  • Everyone had moved on. We were no longer in their lives – and that was the hardest pill to swallow.

Luckily, two months later I’m handling being back in the States a bit better. I tried to put off this post for a reason due to the animosity and negativity I felt for so long. I’m able to see much more clearly now that things are looking up.

There are a few things that have helped me through everything:

I’m trying to look forward and not backward. I’m trying not to dwell on the bad. It is definitely something I’m working on myself.

I learned that I do not want to live in the USA for the rest of my life. I’m not getting into the politics of that but lets just say that travel has been eye opening. Now we just need to figure out exactly what we want to “do” with our time outside the States (besides the blog).

I’ve realized we are NOT living in Austin right now. We are just visiting for a few months. We aren’t currently paying rent. I’m just not sure my friends and family realize that yet. We aren’t staying – and while I’ll miss my family, I’m relieved that we can escape again.

Austin-3

I finally got to meet my new little niece who was born while we were in Colombia. She is by far one of my favorite things in the world. Seeing the supportive family was awesome as well. Lots of hugs to go around.

We did get to meet up with friends after a few weeks of us being here. I just wish we had more money to spend on things like that. It is expensive going out to meet people.

homecoming

I even got to hang out with Abby (The Jungle Princess)!

I got to be part of a friend’s wedding by being the photographer!

Shaun got a job at Bioware to help us save money more quickly.

homecomingWe bought a scooter so I can have mobility. Working at home was killing my soul when I was so used to working in different places while traveling.

I do realize that all good things do come to an end. Coming back from the voyage of our lives was enough to realize that.

-BUT-

I can say that another voyage is going to begin later this year. I can start looking to that next high, that next journey, that next step to feeling truly free.

I am so glad that you will be with me while I go through these adventures. Thank you for being my support system and cheerleader these past few years. I owe everything to you.

61 Responses to “Unwelcome Homecoming!”

  1. lissie June 11, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Friends and family NEVER want to hear about your trip – they just don’t care. The few that do will travel (or have already have) -but those of us that get are a tiny percentage of the population – and that’s speaking from a New Zealand perspective, where arguably more of the population travel than in the US

    Its not that they don’t care – its just they don’t undertand so they totally ignore the whole travel thing you just spent a year or more doing :-)

    To be fair though – I would say that I hope you are paying some form of rent or board – you can’t really expect to return and then get free accommodation – it stop working like that once you’re an independent adult

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      I didn’t expect to necessarily get free accommodation – I think I was just hoping for more fam to step up to host us while we figured things out. Especially since we were only spending a few months home.

  2. Pete June 11, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Ugh. Reverse culture shock. On our first return to Canada Dalene had to come home 2 months earlier than me. Lots of tears involved for sure. I have had people ask me if I run *freeloader.com* (not family members though) and yes the family members not even asking about the trip was a bit disappointing. But you get over it and just realize that they don’t see it the same way we do. We’ve gone back twice and knowing the second time how it would be it was a little easier. You learn fast who your true friends and supporters really are. We think we are heading back in August again, we’ll see how that goes…

    I am excited for you guys to get back on the road. I really hope we have the chance to meet up at some point. Have a great road trip with D&D.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      OMG I think I would have punched someone in the face about the freeloader.com thing. I’ve already had fam members talk about how we’re spending SO MUCH TIME in Europe (2 months) – which to long term travelers like us, is not a long time at all.

  3. TammyOnTheMove June 11, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Thank you for sharing such a moving and honest post. It must be very hard being sucked into the rat race again, and seeing friends and family not being able to understand what you were doing and why. But at least it taught you one thing, which is that you don’t want to live your old life anymore. Luckily you are brave enough to escape and I think part of the fact that your friends and family weren’t as welcoming was, that they were jealous because deep down they probably want to do something similar.

    I am excited to hear about your new plans. If you happen to visit Cambodia by October this year, do let me know and I can be your personal tour guide. :-)

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Thank you for reading it Tammy. I’m don’t think I will be in Cambodia in October but thank you so much for volunteering your time. There is a small possibility I will be in SEA this winter.

  4. Lindsey June 11, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    Erica, this sounds so devastating, and I’m glad things are looking up for you again! Thank you so much for the honest post – I think it happens to a lot of us, but hardly anyone acknowledges it or vocalises it.

    I can’t wait to hear where you’ll be headed next!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      It was to be honest. It was hard to even put it in words.

      I wish people were more open about how bad it really is to come home. I think that it would warn many more people about what you are really looking forward to.

  5. Michael June 11, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    I’ve been wanting to write a similar article for a long time. My old friends from before I left are long gone. I did write an article dedicated to my family members after I heard a rumor that many of think my mom has been supporting my entire trip all these years. Frustrating….

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      And I think this is why we fiercely stick together. We are always looking forward to seeing our blogger friends – the few that ask what is going on and we have similar philosophies.

  6. Sally June 11, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    Yikes! So sorry to hear your transition home has been so hard on you. I’m heading home soon, too, after more than five years outside of the country. I’m a bit worried about the same thing — especially about everyone having moved on without me. I noticed this the last time I was home — it was hard to make conversation as we were all in totally different places in our lives and didn’t have much in common any more. But, luckily, I’ve been out of the country long enough that my parents are actually excited about me coming home and freeloading for a while. (Well, maybe more excited about my coming home than my freeloading.)

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Hey Sally – thanks for stopping by! I think the next time we come home may be a little different. I don’t think many people realize we’re leaving again.

      I’ll send some extra good thoughts your way for when you go home. 😀

  7. Joseph June 11, 2012 at 6:08 am #

    Reverse culture shock for sure. I’ve experienced it each time I returned home from the US (or from any other place I’ve traveled for that matter). When I was working in Wisconsin for 3 months, 3 summers in a row, were the best times of my life. Then I returned home and the nastiness started – family member not caring at all about my trip, or the other extreme – counting how much I’ve earned during that time, the jealousy (they simply couldn’t comprehend the idea that I would travel so far from home), even accusing my parents of letting me go. But I didn’t care – as long as I had my parents support, everything was fine. Adjusting to the student life was hard. Jet lag, talking about my trip, reliving the awesome moments, the bone crushing depression – it was madness. And my “classmates” were calling me “the American” with a hint of sarcasm. Screw them.
    There will always be naysayers, but as long as you pick up the pieces and move on, not to mention relive those awesome moments, seeing the pictures, reading the stories, it will make it SO worth it!
    Looking forward to your next trip, and FYI, I hope to make to Austin this summer, in August – would you be game for a lunch and talk?

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      I can only imagine how beautiful those summers are! I think more than anything I really wish I had more people to share my happiness with.

      I think we all need something like that!

      As for Austin, YEAH! We will be there until late August so make sure to hit me up. I would love to grab lunch!

  8. Roy Marvelous June 11, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    Oooh the dreaded reverse culture shock. The worst part is people at home find it hard to understand!

  9. Carlo+Geneva June 11, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    So sorry to hear about your “unwelcome” home experiences. Funny how family sometimes put the worse damper on amazing experiences in your life. We chalk it up to folks being insecure and jealous. They could never do the things you guys are doing and they have to try to bring you down. Luckily you guys will be on the road soon :)

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      There are so many things I wish I could write that I have to keep to myself but I do agree with you for sure.

  10. Cherie @Technomadia June 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    *sigh* You know our feelings on this subject. Sadly, it seems to be part of the lifestyle. Glad you guys are looking forward, and so glad we got to connect during our respective visits to Austin!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      We always love to see you guys! Hopefully it won’t be as long in between visits next time. 😛

  11. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures June 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Awwwww you got to meet Abby!!!!!! Yay! :)

    Love love love the scooter.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      I actually got to see her when we went through Vegas in 2010. It is always lovely to have repeat visitors! 😀

  12. Kindra June 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences coming home. I just want to say that we really enjoy your blog, and living vicariously through your adventures. You rock, and don’t let the bastards get you down!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      Thank you Kindra! We should be on the road again and posting like crazy. I think I would go insane if I didn’t have our upcoming trip to look forward to.

  13. Mom June 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Erica
    It doesn’t just happen when you leave the states. We left TX because there wasn’t work there. Think we would have choose DE, of all places? When we come “home”, even owning a house there, we can see that others have “written” us off. We are no longer part of their world. But we keep trying, even if its once a year. Love you kids and I hope you will tell us about your trip (the things you didn’t write about) over dinner. We arrive 6/14.

  14. Audrey | That Backpacker June 12, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Sorry to hear it wasn’t the best welcome home. In my circles I’ve found that some people will ask about my trips, but what they really want is a short ‘it was good’. Maybe it’s just difficult for them to swallow because they see you’re doing what you love and they still haven’t found the courage to do the same…

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      I definitely have answered “It was phenomenal.” and people were satisfied with just that.

  15. Ali June 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    I hate that your return has been so hard. I can relate some though. When I was back in the US at the end of my trip, before going back to Germany, lots of people didn’t ask about my trip or want to see pictures or anything. Lots of other stuff I won’t get into here. But it was very weird. You’ve gone through a life changing experience this year, and most people can’t understand it. They don’t see what you’re trying to do and how hard you’re working to make your life look the way you want it to. Many people think you just had one big vacation and they’re jealous. And about the fact that you don’t want to live in the US, I can understand that. I’ve been living in Germany for less than a year, and even though it’s been a big stressful adjustment, I can tell I’m unlikely to want to move back to the US. Hang in there and keep pushing towards your goals. You’ve turned this site into something amazing in just a year, certainly you can keep that momentum going and do lots of other great things.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      I’m hoping for an amazing year. I’m definitely working towards it!

  16. Amanda June 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear the transition back to “home” has been rough. That sucks. I’m glad you’re starting to look on the bright side, though, and getting pumped for the next adventure!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      RAWR! And TBEX definitely helped with the momentum. SO NICE to meet you lady!

  17. dtravelsround June 12, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    You and I have talked about this, but coming home after long term travel is about the worst depression in the world. Your life has been awesome, everyone else’s has stayed the same — for better or worse. It’s so hard to identify with others, so hard to make sense of life as it used to be. You’ve gone through this epic, life-changing course of events … and no one else knows what that is like besides you. Here’s to the next chapter, my lovelies!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      And here it to yours! *raises glass* Cheers!

  18. Jarmo June 13, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    I agree with many of the comments above, it’s not easy coming back after a long trip. Things have moved forward, people have moved forward, and suddenly there you are, back in the old life, not on an adventure anymore. It hits you hard, and I’ve come to think, there is only one solution to it 😉

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

      We’re working on it for sure!

  19. Elizabeth June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    I think one of the hardest things is to discover that your family isn’t supportive of your actions, because many of us grew up with the idea that “friends change, but family is always there for you”. My husband and I just moved back to the Continental U.S. after living for 7 years in Alaska. I get that many of our old friends have moved on and living their own lives, but we got some of the same treatment with some family. After my son and I took at trip home, I called my husband crying a few times because of how I felt: friends were gone, some family didn’t care, and the idea was “you’ve been gone so long, why should we care?”. Mind you, we still took trips home every 1 1/2 years for the purpose of staying in touch with family!

    What I found was the biggest gap was that while we had been established the kind of life we wanted, our life was not the type of life that some of our family had or wanted. While we live pretty simply, save when we can, and work towards our goals, our goals were not the typical American dream goals that our family has. They would prefer to brag about the huge house and the 6 cars (all new) when we tell about how we gardened in the long days of summer and went moose hunting to stash for the winter, all the while learning about the Native Alaskan heritage from our new friends.

    But the people who are really there for you will always be there for you. Because it isn’t the house, cars, travel, dreams achieved or lost. It is the fact that it is you that matters the most. The people that really care about you are the ones who will support your chosen path. So let those people know how important they are to you and have faith in them, because they have it in you.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

      I think it is just that I was hoping that certain individuals were going to be part of the friends that stayed in my life – ya know?

      And good for you embracing and loving where you live. It sounds amazing.

      I’ve already given them a heads up that we are more than likely moving abroad.

  20. Stephanie - The Travel Chica June 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    That’s pretty rough, but it sounds like you guys have been strong and worked past the really bad part. And at least you get to cruise around town in that cute little scooter until you leave again.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

      My scooter is so incredibly cute. I feel so alive when I’m “scooting” around town.

  21. Waegook Tom June 16, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    That sucks about the unsupportive family members. It seems that they’re not really grasping the whole concept of, you know, “family.” I feel really lucky now in the respect that my family are naturally very curious about whenever I go somewhere and are always asking questions.

    I can’t wait to follow where your adventures will lead you next, and I’m glad that you managed to pull yourself up and away from the animosity and negativity you were feeling. It does sound like reverse culture shock – and it can be difficult sometimes. As long as you surround yourself with positive people, then you’ll be just fine. And everyone that reads your page loves you guys and thinks that what you’re doing is amazing, don’t forget that!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

      Finding positive people is a lot harder than you would think!

      I try to accept my fam – it is the only one I have but I definitely love adopting other ones as well!

  22. Kieron June 16, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Yep – been through this a few months ago. It’s amazing how little things have changed after you’ve been through so much, most people are still doing the same old crap they were before you left. And people not giving a shit about our trip, that killed us at first but eventually we realized that they just don’t care for travel and it’s not our problem trying to force our passions on them.

    It does get easier though, good luck with it all and most importantly try to keep yourself busy and entertained!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      The thing is that I love people’s normal day to day life. I think that people should relish in the life that they chose. It is so hard to even get people to talk about THEIR adventures when they feel overshadowed by ours.

  23. Cam June 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    We went through a similar experience – it seems to be quite normal after such a life changing adventure.
    It took me about a year to finally welcome old routines and weave myself back into “normality”. The important thing that we realized through the emotions was that at some point every trip must end. That inner turmoil is good because it means you are preparing for something great. You left for a reason, to change. And you achieved your goal, but change isnt always easy when the music stops and the party’s over – life is about to get very interesting again!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      I think people need to hand out pamphlets, “So your bestfriend/sister/daughter is coming home from a big trip.” info thingies.

  24. Ayngelina June 19, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I pretty much went into a depression when I came home last summer and it was really bad. I couldn’t relate to any of my friends, some of them resented me for turning my back on a life they were pursuing and I had no idea what I would do next.

    I wrote about it too and realized so many others went through the same thing. It really does get better and you find your groove. Now I balance traveling with spurts of home and it’s much easier because you don’t expect people to care when you go/leave and so you aren’t disappointed.

    I will say this, one of the things I learned was that I was being a bit of a jerk. I wanted people, who I had left, to just drop things and make time for me when their lives had moved on. I had changed but what I didn’t realize was they had too.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      One of my theories was that people were angry that I was “rebelling” against the lifestyle people worked so hard to achieve. The whole dynamic is really interesting for sure.

  25. Camels & Chocolate June 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Ugh, reverse culture shock is sometime the worst! I look forward to reading where you guys land…eventually…

  26. Christy @ Technosyncratic June 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    We’ve been “home” about a month now and have faced some of the same stuff — people rarely wanting to talk about our travels, and a lot of people making snide jokes about how we just spend all day goofing around and how easy our lives are.

    Yes, we’re SO lucky, but we also work while we travel and that shit ain’t easy. We got to change our homebase and explore a new city on our time off, but we were still logging tons of hours at the computer and feeling super stressed all the time trying to fit it all in. A lot of people just want to keep their assumptions and joke about how lazy we are instead of actually listening to our experiences. It gets annoying.

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      Yeah – the worst was when we were laughed at when I said we worked a lot. /sigh Some people will never understand.

  27. Danyelle Franciosa June 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    I think there is no other place like home, maybe you are just depressed because you will leave your friends from the place where you were having so much fun. I was also experienced like that sad but happy as well.

  28. Abby June 20, 2012 at 1:06 am #

    I looove that photo of us!!! And you look so gorgeous at that wedding. STUNNING. Man, I wish I looked half that skinny in a hammock… I mean, I wish I were lying in a hammock. Sigh.

  29. Sebastian June 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    The reverse culture shock!! As many already mentioned, it is so normal all the emotions you felt and the reactions of friends and family. I’ve been traveling since 2006 and neither my family nor friends have asked me how the trip was, if they can see the pictures or whatever, I got used to after the years but I remember it being a big shock when I first returned home after living abroad for a year!!

    Look forward what is ahead and ignore the negativity around you!!!

    • Erica June 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Going to try my best to ignore!

      Sometimes it is SO HARD.

  30. Greg June 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I read this a week ago and decided it was worth pondering on before joining the conversation. Some thoughts:

    1) There are 2 types of animals: solo and pack. People, all people, firmly fall into the category of pack animals. There are certain rules to how a pack animal thinks and one of those is “to keep all the members of the pack in line.” Throwback to our survival instincts.

    (yes, it’s possible to fight against these instincts but that’s a different essay 😉

    So when a pack animal (read: human) sees another fellow animal doing something that isn’t normal in their experience (read: like y’alls lifestyle) they actually attempt to “correct” the abnormality. This isn’t usually a conscious thing, it actually happens on a subconscious level. Which leads to my second point:

    2) Reading the things you’ve had to endure it appears to me that what your friends and family are doing has very little to do with you and a whole lot to do with them.

    Why does this matter? Well, it has helped me to remind myself when exposed to similar situations that the person in question isn’t talking to me, or even about me. They are talking about their “rules of life.” Not God’s rules and certainly not mine, but theirs. Typically people, all people (self included) think we should all play by the same rules. We don’t. So others can either accept that we are playing by different rules or they can allow their rejection of this fact to obstruct their ability to be in a relationship with us.

    Which then allows us the freedom to spend more time with the people who accept us and help us grow. so –

    3) As long as you keep being who you want to be either
    a) the person will accept you and your relationship will grow to your mutual benefit
    or
    b) the person will cut off the relationship leaving you with room for a better relationship with someone who fits into the “a” category above.

    It hurts in the short term but in the long term Erica, you win either way. It can be a long journey and sometimes lonely, sometimes emotionally shattering but in the end when you look around you, the people in your life will amaze you.

    (I believe the internet meme here is “haters gonna hate” but I prefer being more verbose.;-)

    • Erica July 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

      First off,

      You made me cry. Damn you. In a good way.

      Secondly,

      Thank you so much for this thoughtful post. I really needed to hear this, and I love that it comes from you guys. Thank you. <3

  31. Emily July 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I would have gone to your party if I had known about it–promise!!! :) I can’t imagine how disorienting that was to come back and things be so different, and family not being supportive. But I’m glad your travels taught you guys about what you do want for yourselves, like not living in the US. Much love!

  32. jessica July 6, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    It really sucks that your friends and some family weren’t there for you when you came back to the states. Although I haven’t done really long term travel yet i’ve experienced at least a little of what you talked about. How is it that when people ask how your trip was and you say amazing..they are satisfied with that? I love hearing travel stories, even if its just to Disneyland! I ask tons of questions and want to hear every detail.
    So thank you so much for writing this post, I hadn’t really been thinking what is was going to be like when we come back to the sates to visit, especially since we are planning on being gone years…it does make me sad that we will probably be cut out of a lot of peoples lives, even with all of the technology that could keep us connected. I guess we will find out who our real friends are. I hope things get better for you, and that you are able to feed your travel addiction soon!

    • Erica July 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      You would be surprised at the lack of interest people have for our travels. Amazing is much more than they want to hear and many time the conversation steers another way – which is hard for us since that is all we lived for a period of a year. WE ask questions to people – because I know they want to talk about it, but people don’t ask us.

      Best of luck visiting! Just be prepared.

  33. Jaime July 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Ahhh I am so sorry you had to go through all that. It must have been tough. You know I am a short FB msg or tweet away. I like that mentioned that travel has been eye opening on the way you see the US. It really has been for me too and I don’t know if I wanna live there when I get back. I am glad though you have the trip to Europe around the corner. You will back on the road before you know it & this will all be in the past. Forward is the only way you can look and move on out & up from this. You have us the travel community to lean on. We love y’all.

    • Erica July 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I could go on and on how I have some people in the travel community to lean on…

      Just remember the same goes for you when you make it home. It is hard. Like, really really hard.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Coming Down Inspired - June 21, 2012

    […] Over the weekend, we embraced many new (and even silly) things in order to shake up our brains. We joked around a lot. We’ll never have Ben’s signature pose, Jodi’s unique perspective, Kirsten’s photography skills or Abby’s ability to orchestrate getting a photo from the most flattering angle (check out Caanan delivering major “broken down doll” realness), but we like to learn more about ourselves from dabbling in friends’ worlds. Others fueled our: obsession with Mexican food, addiction to music, love of theater, appreciation for Portland and our counterculture tendencies. […]

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