The Home Stretch

And then, both at long last and far too soon, exactly five months and one day after we left San Francisco for this crazy around-the-world adventure, we were packing up our bags and heading to Burlington airport for the final flight of our trip. We were going home.

I felt a lot of feelings about the end of the trip. Part of me, of course, was ready to be home, in my own house, in my own bed, in my own neighborhood. Ready to be done with the near-constant packing and unpacking, the travel days, the eating out, the cooking in unfamiliar kitchens, the often tiring work of acclimating quickly to new people/places/languages/foods. Ready to see friends and settle back into familiar, comforting routines.

But another part of me was, to be honest, kind of dreading being home again. Don’t get me wrong, our lives in San Francisco are amazing, but they’re also, you know, real life. And while there were plenty of real challenges, emotions, setbacks and disappointments on this trip, they all happened pretty apart from anything that felt like our everyday existence. Coming home meant going back to work (and while Dan and I both really like our jobs, it has to be said: Not working is just plain better than working), getting Fiona started in kindergarten at a brand-new big-kid school (!) and getting truly moved into the home we’d only lived in for a few months before leaving for so long. It meant making choices about what to wear beyond what fits inside a little suitcase and washing bedsheets and recycling junk mail and going to dentist appointments and putting the new registration sticker on the car. And when you’ve been gone for nearly half a year, that real-life stuff tends to pile up. So there’s that.

Anyway, after bidding a fond farewell to our Vermont family, we enjoyed largely uneventful journey home, punctuated by some terrible food and an on-the-tarmac delay during our layover in loathsome Newark. We also lucked into some pretty sweet seats on the flight to SFO: Dan had booked what he thought were seats in regular coach, but were somehow actually in United’s Premium Plus cabin. Which meant big comfy seats and more legroom and larger-than-average seatback screens. We don’t know how or why it happened, but we were stoked it did.

Approximately three movies later, we were landing at SFO, which (and I swear I’m being objective here) is one of the very best airports in the world. After deplaning, luggage claiming and cab queuing, we were home at a perfectly reasonable time of evening. And it was… pretty weird. Two sets of very responsible friends housesat for us while we were gone, so our place was in great shape, but it still gave me this odd mix of vibes: both familiar and unfamiliar, welcoming and a little eerie.

But then we went to bed and woke up and went about the business of getting back to our lives. We unpacked and ran errands, yes, but we also walked around and caught up with our neighbors, hung out at our favorite cafe and played at our favorite park. And, most importantly, we hugged our friends and swapped our stories from the last five months. And we pretty quickly remembered why we love where we live. Even in this complicated country at this fraught point in history, this exact neighborhood in this exact city makes us feel like there’s no place else we’d rather be.

The wide world is still out there. And we’re eager to get back and see more of it again soon. But for now, we’re happy to be home, catching up on real life (and our blog posts!) and feeling incredibly grateful for the adventures we’ve had abroad—and the life we get to live right here.

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