Wanderlust Versus Homesteading: The Struggle is Real
My sister-in-law and I were chatting a while ago during one of the rare family functions that I was actually in town for. The conversation went something like this:
“So, what are you up to these days?” -Her
“I’m racing tomorrow, then Monday I’m home, Tuesday I drive to Arrowhead for the XC meet I’m coaching, then I drive to NJ to see my parents for a couple days before I head to Vermont for Bittersweet, then I come home. After that, it calms down.” -Me
“Molly, you’ve been saying it was calming down for FIVE YEARS.” -Her
(My mother-in-law nodded along to this.)
Last weekend, our friends asked us what our plans were for the summer.
“Are you around?” Scott asked.
“Gone for a week in June but then mostly around the rest of the summer,” I said.
He just laughed at me.
At first, I was a little annoyed: why ask what our plans are if you’re going to assume that I’m lying that we’re going to be around? But, in all fairness, after that conversation with my sister in law, when things ‘calmed down,’ we were home for about 3 weeks before leaving for nearly 5 months for Costa Rica, New Jersey, California, Spain and Arizona. Sooooo… Fair enough. (I remember in even in high school, my co-editor on the newspaper wrote a random diary entry about me on livejournal (UGH I am OLD) that said something like ‘Molly will be gone for a day and come back having met some guy from Miami at a show and somehow she’s already made friends with his cousin from New Hampshire…’ so this has been a bit of a lifestyle for me.)
When we’re home, I start dreaming about making our van more efficient and heading out on #vanlife adventures, or I start talking about running FKTs or backpacking in Europe. When I’m not home, I count the days until I get home again. I’m a contrary human.
Working on this post now—picking it up after a few months of languishing in drafts while I sorted through my actual feelings on the subject—I still have up and down feelings on the subject! I’m home now, and have been for almost 2 weeks. Before that, I was home for a whopping 6 weeks, a record for me in the last decade (for real). We’ll be on the road for a bit of June, but I’m realizing how much I prize my time here in our apartment when I have it. We’ve had options to add in races or travel days, and I’ve said no to all of them. I’m partially just beat from the book launch and focusing on a few key events in June instead of making every weekend a circus, but part of it is that I love days at home. This weekend, I was considering a 25K race about 2 hours from the house. It was that or a 22-mile trail run on my training schedule. I thought about it and the idea of a long run out the door versus driving 4 hours to race seemed so much better—the old me would never turn down a race start!
A lot of this comes down to FOMO: when I’m not home, I think about all the things I’m missing out on in my community, and the fun of simply chilling at home by myself or with Peter (ahem, I am an introvert). When I’m home, I think about all the adventures I could be having. (I often think about if this is why I’m a writer—when you write, you get to inhabit different worlds, either in writing fiction or even in just doing things like interviewing people in different places and careers!)
I wrote recently about how I’m starting to see that an optimized training environment—like Girona, Spain—might be great and have its applications, but in a lot of ways, it can’t beat being in one place and having a daily routine packed with familiarity. That’s why so many pro athletes opt to live in areas like Flagstaff, AZ, where they have that optimal training environment year-round, and a lot of the athletes that I see who are struggling to maintain fitness/avoid burnout/get through sickness and health issues are ones who travel to both race and train. It can be really hard on the body and spirit!
Both lifestyles can be so cool: being home means a chance to brew kombucha, bake sourdough, make my space look the way that I want it to, not kill a houseplant, meet friends for tea and/or wine, go to the actual library, not the digital one, and tons of other things like that. And then, there’s the allure of being on the road and seeing new places and old friends, meeting new people, trying new adventures like thru-hiking and bikepacking… the list goes on.
What I think I need to work on now isn’t necessarily picking a lane and staying in one spot or renting our condo and hitting the road. I think the bigger thing I need to work on this year is being content where I am in the moment, instead of thinking about where to go or what’s happening next.
Anyone else feel like this? I know a lot of you travel a fair amount for work or racing, so share your experiences!