My husband and I have always enjoyed various forms of travel as part of our life together: random road trips, camping adventures, family/friend events around the country, international vacations, or even “local tourism” (which we tend to do a lot). My husband even lived in a 40ft travel trailer for a few years before we started dating, and I participate in Japanese international exchange programs when I can.
We left Seattle/Tacoma to try out Eastern Oregon rural living a few years ago, thinking that we would probably settle down and start a family shortly thereafter. Our amount of travel started to dwindle except for large grocery runs out of town. We became small-town homebodies of a sort, and if there was ever a form of “adult nesting” out there, I think we were trying to practice it. We even rented a larger home expecting that the guest room would eventually turn into a nursery. All of this was completely great because it was a future that we both truly wanted — a family life.
And then life gave us a chance to turn it all upside down. We had a sister-in-law with cancer in California, a very good friend with cancer in Colorado, and a desperate need to experience different jobs/communities. The siren call of travel beckoned to us, if you will. My husband’s employment as a physical therapist meant he could sign on with staffing agencies that cater specifically to “travelers” and help them get contracts all over the country, even the world. November 2010 was a big month for us as we mulled all these choices over and decided to go for it. We would leave in December, spend 13 weeks in Colorado, then possibly another 13 weeks in California, and then who knows? Maybe Europe or Japan? Travel was back in our life again, and we were pumped!
Starting a family has been a huge dream for us, but what about our relationship and everything else?
Of course, it always gets interesting when you start making big plans — like that positive pregnancy test two weeks before we were supposed to leave. Suddenly we were faced with a bigger decision: with a baby coming into the picture, do we travel or do we stay? Starting a family has been a huge dream for us, but what about our relationship and everything else? My great-aunt Jan pushed us to go, and not sacrifice just because we were starting a family: “You’ll have time for all that settling later.” It also helped that months previously, I had interviewed a birthing center that I really liked in a nearby city, and the midwives felt comfortable with us traveling as long as we returned in time for the baby to be born. They would track us no matter where we went.
Onward then! We traded in our Saturn SL for a 2006 Ford Explorer and only took what we could jam-pack into the cargo spaces. This included Smokey the cat ( and litter box) and Lula the mini schnauzer riding on top of the belongings, somewhere near our heads. Everything else we owned went into two storage units and was left behind. We started calling this our “Adventure” to make it feel special. This helped me a lot mentally considering I was in early pregnancy (exhausted), caught a cold bug right before we left (miserable), and was upset that we were leaving family and friends two days before Christmas (depressed). These emotions passed in time as I faced the Adventure before us.
We have since driven through all the Western states (except Montana) at some point in the last eight months, moved house four times, saw three very different groups of prenatal providers, and got to know each other and our family/friends a whole lot more — and still have no permanent home. Of course I wanted the numerous baby shower parties, the nice home to welcome the baby into, the family, stability, and more. Did I need all of that? Not really, at least not all the time, I realized.
Because of all this, I also discovered that dreaming was key to me as a human being. It’s something I have to do constantly, to remind myself about what it is to be flexible in life.
All I needed in the beginning was heat (it was sometimes -10 or colder where we lived the first few months), good food, and comfort. Later on, a few pieces of maternity clothes and hand-me-downs got me through the growing, and spending time with our awesome friends who had a small child was more invaluable than any mountain of baby books I could have bought. I took the time to finally see a counselor about past family issues, and had the opportunity to develop new parts of the relationship with my husband during all the driving we did. All this because we decided to travel away from our small, rural town.
Because of all this, I also discovered that dreaming was key to me as a human being. It’s something I have to do constantly, to remind myself about what it is to be flexible in life. I kept having to recreate my dreams during all these changes we experienced. Our planned return to Eastern Oregon in June completely fell through after we spent the time and money moving back there. Jobs didn’t pan out, we lost the financing on a home we were trying to buy, and we had to live with family for two weeks while we figured out a new game plan. I cried a lot, and was disappointed in the failures, but I couldn’t help but think about all the possibilities that might now be available because things worked out the way they did. Our Adventure wasn’t over yet.
In the end, we continue to prepare for the little one’s arrival next month with lots of dreaming. We now live in a city that is three-and-a-half hours away from the birthing center I had originally chosen, and the midwives are totally okay with it. We still have plenty of worries and fears, but the dreaming really keeps us going. We’re looking at possibilities such as the military, or styles of living that would allow us to visit many people in different places.
I still dream about spending time over in Japan. He still dreams about building up his old 1975 Ford into our awesome family vehicle. Do we have any plans about when or where to settle down? No, not really. Just more dreams. Starting a business, building a house, sharing our new addition with the world. All things that will have their chance along our traveling the great Adventure.