With a week on US soil now under our belts, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our suburban life. We’ve talked a lot about the things we love, the things we’ve missed, and the things we aren’t quite so sure about. We certainly missed our families and our friends and we try hard not to take for granted the amazing support network we have here in Utah. The simple possession of a refrigerator suddenly seems pretty incredible and eating cold yogurt seems like a luxury.
We’ve been out on our sleek road bikes quite a bit, and I’m still not over just how amazingly light they are. I had worried that when I sat on top of my ultra-light machine, I’d feel like I had less control over the light frame, but instead, I feel a bit reborn, suddenly more confident on a bicycle than I’ve ever been before. I can fly around corners that used to require cautious braking and sail down hills with far less anxiety than I did just three short months ago.
Things here seem somehow different than they were before. We spend a lot of time wondering whether it is our childhood home that has changed, or whether we are just somehow different. We fly up and down the awesome trail system that backs our home, now noticing the beauty of the farmers’ fields, the grazing cows, and long stretches of tall grass spotted with wildflowers that we never noticed before. We’ve been marveling at the insanely beautiful expanse of the skies here…did they always look this incredible?
I took one last week off while Ben went back to work so that I could spend some time getting us settled in and taking care of some loose ends that were left over from three months ago. Essentially, this has translated to a week crammed full of dealing with managing our material possessions. I’ve been working on car repairs and registration, getting our gear and equipment cleaned and mended, washing and scrubbing everything from dishes and clothing to toilets and countertops and weeding the flower beds. Even with no work commitments, just finding the time to get some exercise has been a little bit tricky.
At the end of every day, I’ve collapsed into bed, exhausted from the labors of the day, still wondering why on earth I have so many things to attend to in the first place. It’s frightening to me to think that I own so many possessions that I can spend an entire week working on taking care of them, and that this would be considered normal. We survived happily for three months without any of these items, so why do we need them at all?
While on the road, we were content if we had enough food, a place to sleep, and some good scenery. There was no pursuit of the “finer things” of life. We didn’t want for a nicer, bigger, lighter tent. We never shopped for new components for our bicycles (unless it was absolutely necessary, such as when my brake pads went out). Our initial impulse going into our cycle tour was gearheadedness in that each of the items we purchased had to be the lightest and the strongest and often not the cheapest. While this proved useful for certain things like our bicycles and tent, by the time we were out a week most of that no longer mattered. Who really needs space-age ultralight composite sporks anyway? By the way, our sporks broke before a month was up. We eventually replaced them with two metal spoons from a Venetian convenience store for 89 cents a piece which worked splendidly – we didn’t even notice the extra weight.
Having been disconnected from day-to-day media for 3 months, it is kind of overwhelming to come home and be bombarded by advertisements, debates about why politicians not getting anything done, and news about what all of the celebrities are up to. We’re suddenly re-connected by phone to almost everyone we know nearly 24 hours a day. Sometimes we just miss the quiet of the open road.
Some things about suburbia we are really enjoying, though. Our garden, which Bree’s brother Colton and his girlfriend Miara have started and painstakingly tended, looks great. It feels great to be connected to the earth, something so simple and timeless. It is also great to know that no matter how hot it is outside our bicycle rides can, if we so choose, always end in a cool, dry building. Rain, snow, wind, and heat are no longer such devastating forces.
Regardless, though, we have to find some balance in suburbia. We don’t have any answers on how to do this yet, but we are trying to take a good hard look at what is important to us, and what quite frankly is just pointless and trite. Until then, we will have to settle by reading travel books of other places we would now like to visit, visiting the farmer’s marketing ,taking several loads of stuff we don’t need to the DI, and of course, spending time replacing the ignition switch in my car which blew almost immediately upon our return.
Ah, it’s good to be home.