So I'm back.
After 6 weeks of travelling through North America with Nic, we're back at home, back at work, soon to be back at Uni.
And I'm not going to write about the trip (This is a lie. I write about the trip, but not in a Day 1:... Day 2:... sort of way, but much more fragmented) because it would take too long, and be too vague, or too mechanical- I'll distance myself and make it about the facts: We went here, we saw this, we ate that... rather than everything else it was.
I tell people it was full on. And it was.
We drove a couple of thousand kms on the wrong side of the road, through ice, snow, sleet, pouring rain and glorious sun... we stood in countless airport queues, removed our shoes, got patted down, fought for seats, and had four to ourself on the flight home, so we stretched out and slept.
We took 2 ferries... no, 3 ferries! We played cards, watched Criminal Minds in a dozen hotel rooms. We made jokes about the sheer ridiculousness of King sized beds, and how we lost each other in them. I cried over dinner, we taught Bananagrams to our family. We met cats, horses, a llama, dogs, eagles, otters, children, teenagers, brothers and sisters-in-law, friends and random people in airport lines. We searched for moose and didn't see any. We ate breakfasts, stole bagels for lunch, shared dinners and had terrible service because of it. We ate about a hundred bagels between us.
We shopped for boots. So many boot shops.
I lost a magnet that I then cried over losing. Then I found it. Then I lost it again (and still haven't found it again). We walked cobbled streets, J-walked, ran, hunched against rain and wind, sunk in snow, slid on icy trails, went under and overground. I took about 57 photos of squirrels, fat, thin and white. And about the same amount of photos of seagulls.
We saw landmarks but didn't pay for the privledge of entering them. We did a lot of things by the cheap, for free, or just refused to pay (honestly Parks Quebec? We're not paying). We discovered the joy of included breakfasts and still had oatmeal. I became thoroughly addicted to coffee. We ate national or regional 'specialities' - Poutine in Quebec, Tim Horton's all over Canada (best doughnuts ever), a 'butter burger' in Madison, WI, deep fried cheese curds (also Madison, WI)(and OMG delicious), a Criff dog in NYC, bagels in NYC, falafel in NYC... in fact, we just ate a LOT, in NYC. A&W burgers in Canada, pretzels and canelonis from the Green Market in Union Square (again, NYC)...
We contemplated the future as we knew this was our 'scouting trip' of where we wanted to live one day. We watched as our plans for Montreal and QC went down the drain as we intensly disliked the province, and contemplated Vancouver and BC.
I metaphorically fell down, Nic metaphorically picked me up. I planned, Nic fixed. We were barely a moment apart, and if we were, it was in clothes stores where we'd meet up in change rooms with the catch-cry "Bananas?!", people be damned if they think we're weird.
Then we came home.
And we rearranged the lounge on our first day back, after 36 hours in Transit (SEA-PHO PHO-LAX LAX-AUK AUK-MEL Sky bus, train, drive home). After all, what keeps you awake and active like a bit of unpacking a bookshelf, sliding it to every available wall in the loungeroom on towels, finally agreeing on a place, and re-packing and arranging it? We visited kittens. We tried to sleep in, but woke up at 5.30am as our body-clocks figured it was 8.30am (very strange time difference). We tried to get used to being home, to walking Mallei, to shopping at the supermarket again... to not having somewhere to go and something to do and see every single day. To unpacking, sorting through photos and trying to select those which would best represent everything that we'd seen, and the more I uploaded and selected, the more I felt the trip condensing down into those little moments- the moments which probably meant least of all. They weren't the first glimpse of mountains as we drove up the Sea to Sky highway, or the moment Margo and I saw each other through the window of the Moroccan restaraunt, or the mad attempt to navigate Boston's freeways, or me layering up in literally 6 layers of the warmest stuff I could find just so we could go for a Post-Thanksgiving walk in -10C Madison... They were snippets of time, of scenery that I could fit in a frame... And it's not that I don't love the pictures I have, but I suppose I wish they were more. Maybe I'm just too used to them, having gone through, edited, gone through again and flagged, gone through to upload, to show Mum, to show Nic, until I forget about the rest of them...
And we've been trying to get used to being us again. To not relying on one another in the same way. To not looking forward to every single day the way that we were. To having no money, to paying off credit cards and bills, and going back to work and not being together all the time. We got a kitten last wednesday (08/12), so we're trying to fit this ball of fluff into our routine. It's proving more difficult than I thought because she's adorable... so we have to be careful not to ignore Mallei... which means we end up zoning out from each other. And that's been really hard. But we're ok- we admit these things to each other, and then we feel better. I feel in a way that we should have waited to get the kitten, Reya, but she's perfect- she's exactly what we wanted from a kitten, and hopefully she'll grow up to be what we wanted from a cat! It just means that our 'going back to routine' has been interupted and changed...
It's funny because I thought on the trip that being on the trip would be the hardest part for me and Nic. The stress, strain, and constantly being with one another would be bound to cause a fight. And it didn't. Not once. I got so tired once and was being picky about what to eat that we got annoyed at each other in the supermarket and that's when I cried... but it was ok. In the grand scheme of things it was absolutely nothing... It's been coming home, settling in, being 'normal', not adventuring that's been hard.
I've been reading APW a lot lately from work, and there's a lot of discussion about weddings and the marriages that follow... And I think it's probably similar, in a way. You have such a huge lead up to this amazing, fun, incredible event, then you probably have a Honeymoon, which is great, and fun, and amazing... and then you go back to 'the real world', and deal with work, and finances, and stress... and you have to get through that and make it work. That's what's happening now.
And I'm still in two minds about this wedding. I would love to have my idea of a wedding- the fun, relaxed, outdoor, breezy, tree-surrounded event with family and friends smiling and dancing and singing around a bonfire... but I don't feel that much love from my Mum's side of the family right now... and Dad's side are everywhere in Australia, and Nic's family are just -everywhere-, and my family won't meet Nic's family until wedding time, which isn't that big a deal I suppose... And then I don't feel like I have enough close friends. I have friends, sure. And I'm sure they'd be happy to come and have a good time... But I read so many posts on APW about this great community, about everyone so happy and so happy to experience our love, and it's like an overflow of love, love love love.... and I just worry I won't have that.
When I met my sister-in-law-in-law-to-be, I told her that she, and Nic's brother (her husband) are the only married people I know. I thought of one other couple. And that's it. They are literally the only married people I know. Is it that I haven't experienced enough weddings to know how this is meant to go? Do I just feel insecure in my friendship circle? It's a lot about that, I know it is, because I feel like I've fallen out of touch with a lot of people, and after a while they just become FB status updates. I feel like I want more friends before I have a wedding.
When I have more time, and I'm back at Uni, I'll work on making that happen, somehow.
Maybe I'll truck along to some of those APW book club meetings! (Much to Nic's dismay)