We aren’t home yet. We preemptively gave ourselves a soft landing back to the states and are bumming around Maui for a couple weeks, avoiding Seattle’s relentless winter chill as long as possible. To be honest, we’re both ready to be home. It feels like a sin to be homesick in a place like Maui. I’m sure anyone reading this from a cold climate (or anywhere that’s not Hawaii) wants to punch me in the face. I understand. But after months of living out of a few bags, we are both longing for familiarity, of arriving a place and not having to feel along the wall for the light switch or open all the drawers in the kitchen to locate a can opener.
In the past 4 months we’ve stayed in 8 people’s homes, 10 air b&b’s, 2 hotels, and 2 hostels. We’ve slept in beds of strangers homes, a tree house in the forest, the loft of a barn, a tiny home on wheels, a covered porch-like area of a farm in the Maui jungle, and the unforgettable spider-infested house-truck. We’ve been recipients of incredible generosity and immense kindness from people who have opened their homes to us, fed us, and given us a place to rest our tired, traveling bodies. Our trip has been overwhelmingly highlighted by people and relationships, by the meals we ate together and the stories we shared.
The most interesting parts of life, to me, are the in-between moments. They’re the moments we forget to sit around and share because they don’t fall into any sort of category (embarrassing, funny, heroic, etc). For instance, some things I think about often and rarely have a convenient place to share: I can always remember the way California smelled to me as a kid; I love the commentary people add in the silent space between previews at the theater; My dad used to take me to lunch every couple weeks as a little girl and we’d eat breadsticks, drink sodas, and talk about nothing; I pretended to be a huge Star Wars fan to impress a guy I liked in middle school (all I knew was how to make a noise like an ewok).
Our life is an accumulation of these little things, the nuanced connecting points between here and there. Yet we’re too busy talking about and fixating on “there.” In-between moments get lost in a world of highlight reels. We’re sharing our curated lives, the moments we’ve been preconditioned to believe will elevate our impressiveness: engagements, babies, promotions, new homes. Defining moments. We’re capturing our lives for everyone to like, comment and validate, leaving little room to simply live them. Sometimes I’m afraid of the parts of life that feel mundane because it’s in these moments where my mind is finally still enough to worry “am I doing enough?” It’s easy to feel like there’s a place for you in this world when you’re doing something productive. It’s just as easy to forget there’s still a place when you’re doing nothing.
I had a thought about a year ago. I wondered what would happen if I saw every mundane, seemingly inconsequential part of my day as an opportunity to be mindful. The hope is to start seeing the connecting points as key moments instead of wasted space. It’s hard to do, especially when culture tells us we should be hustling, doing more, and climbing ladders to get ahead. But we’re exhausted from this kind of existence. At least I know I am. I think we all want to be known for who we are and not what we’ve accomplished (or are trying to accomplish).
The last month we spent a lot of time getting from one place to the next, piling our lives in and out of our car and moving onward to see the next beautiful designated spot. A lot happened in that space between checkpoints, a lot of real, unglamourous, UN-instagrammable moments. In all honesty, even while we were in some of the most insanely beautiful places in the world, some of our lowest points of the trip happened in the last month. And it's an interesting tension to hold, acknowledging how you're truly feeling instead of how you think you should be feeling. To not apologize for your reality, and somehow, in the midst of difficulty, remember that it's a part of your story.
I could list off all the major places we saw and the activities we did, but that sounds horrendously boring to me, like listing off the ingredients to a recipe. Instead, I’d rather give you a taste of where we stand looking back by sharing some of the in-between moments. Hopefully these memories can bring some different shades of color to how the end of our trip looked.
- The day after leaving the farm, we spent a couple nights at a house on a cliffside facing the expansive ocean. It downpoured all day so instead of walking to the ocean we watched old movies and did laundry. The only place the clothes would dry was in the bathroom, which was poorly designed and we had to complete an obstacle course to get through the clothes to the toilet. Super fun.
- Lyndal sent us away from the farm with a bag of food from the garden. I ate a raw beet like an apple in the car and thought this is the strangest road trip food I’ve ever eaten.
- We really liked our kayak trip (thanks for the rec, Dave). Our guide was a tiny fellow with a smile that covered half his face and he had a wealth of random facts (I learned jellyfish qualify as both plant and animal and there’s only one jellyfish specialist in the world).
- FaceTiming our friend in Norway from our tiny home in Queenstown. Lots of belly laughs and fun to connect with someone waking up to start their day as we were about to go to sleep.
- After spending 2 full days in the car (with a 4-hour ferry ride in between) Char and I were not the nicest humans to each other. We knew the one thing we needed most was the thing we couldn't get: space.
- We got to the airport to leave New Zealand (after 3 months) only to find we got the dates wrong and we didn’t leave til the next day. Thankfully we had friends save us and we were able to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.
- We ate some bomb Thai food in Sydney with friends. In the car on the drive home we talked about conspiracy theories, whether we believed in evolution or not and Jesus’s grace + goodness.
- Listening to the Lala Land soundtrack while walking through downtown Sydney.
- We spent 3 nights on a farm on Maui with a friend’s dad. His home is a glorified treehouse jetting out of a hillside with a steep set of stairs running from the river at the bottom of the hill to the dirt road up top.