Hard to believe when we walked through the front door of our house that the eight months were over and we were finally coming home. Thirteen countries. Countless flights, train rides, rental cars, hotel rooms and Airbnbs. Many museums, tours, adventures and stories. There were loads of laughs and frequent tears. It was scary, exciting, interesting, boring, lonely, invigorating and thrilling. We are endlessly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to hit the pause button on life and head out on this adventure. We will always treasure this time as a family where we learned so much about ourselves and each other and really learning to swear like pirates.

But now we’re home and time to get back into the business of real life. How do we do that again?

Everyone said “you’ll be happy to be in your own bed.” But after eight months of bed-hopping, my bed didn’t feel like my bed anymore. Nights are filled with vivid dreams processing all the things we did and saw. For the first few weeks, I dreamt of the bush every night.

Shifting gears to a different, not quite slower pace has been weird. We enjoyed the breakneck clip we were tearing through our travels. The busy, scheduled days cramming in as much as we could. The endless art, history and culture that we could only do our best to try and absorb like sponges with so much dripping out of our pores, unable to take in any more. Now we’re home in a lovely, but quiet city. History here is a building that was built in the last 100 years. We appreciate being back in our home and native land, but all of us once unpacked and settled started to feel the pangs of missing our adventure. The good and the bad.

So here we are, all unpacked and back in the swing. Kids are back in school and finding their way. Monsieur and I set with the task of “now what?” are working on determining what we want to be when we grow up. Its not an easy endeavour. We gained some insight into our needs and desires for our future career paths while away, but in the lens of a smoky Vancouver fall day its a lot more obscured than we had hoped. But that’s ok, there’s no rush and there is time for more exploration.

In the meantime, we reconnect with our lovely friends and visit with our dear family. We anticipate the arrival of our long-awaited puppy as we put future travel plans on the shelf temporarily while we let the dust settle and remember why Vancouver is our beloved home.

Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. For all the tough days were balanced by so much more. The day that our kids told us that “just because something is different, it doesn’t make it weird” we knew it was all worthwhile.

We started our journey in Hawaii, at the peak of the largest Covid wave yet. Three out of four of us caught it and we had to stay on for two extra weeks. Sounds more wonderful than it actually was.

We stopped back in Vancouver for a short two week break to get everyone boosted and re-packed before we left for Europe. Our arrival in France was at the tail end of their largest Covid wave, restrictions still in place across the country. Within weeks, health restrictions would be lifted across Europe paving the way for much easier travel for us gratefully, but yet another sizeable Covid wave – this time mask and restriction-less.

Shortly after the arrival in Paris, Russia began the war in the Ukraine. We were now faced with a decision. Should we abandon our plans and head home to the relative safety of Canada? The headlines were terrifying and it was all a bit surreal when the headline in Le Figaro was explaining how the pharmacies across France were selling out of iodine pills as residents worried about the fall-out from the nuclear threat (bomb or another disaster at Chernobyl). We looked for ways to help as Ukrainian refugees were fleeing across Europe.

As it started to grow clear that the situation in the Ukraine was not going to end quickly and was headed for a long, drawn out conflict, the headlines turned to Monkey Pox. Another potential pandemic and the possibility of travel restrictions returning. Talk of twenty-one day quarantines coming into play, we decided to wait a bit longer and see what would happen as we discussed the possibility of packing it all in and heading home again.

The state of the world, a constant worry – effects of Brexit, the election of the French President, Paris almost always seemingly on the brink of a riot or a strike etc etc all swirling all the time – we forged ahead with our plans. We managed to avoid the worst of the crazy airport/ luggage drama of the spring and summer. We kept pretty healthy, seemingly avoiding another run in with some new Covid variant. We managed to find a way to fight through home sickness and loneliness.

I look back on the eight months, with all its ups (mostly up) and downs (not as many as it may sound) and feel lucky and grateful. I will treasure this time when I had my family all to myself, our teen and pre-teen at such pivotal times in their lives. We had such great talks over long dinners and drives, sharing wisdoms along with our hopes and fears. Would I do it again? In a New York minute!

Just a casual walk in a field in the Cotswolds, England

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