One of the major highlights of being specifically, an expat teacher abroad is the extended time we get with our people back home, quality time that I’m not sure I could live abroad without. But going home is often eclipsed by the major low of actually getting there, the actual act of travel, the traveling. And since less traveling isn’t an option for me – unless I skip Christmas (which is just a hard no) – what is an expat to do?
Husband and I thought it was a cute idea after we had our first dog, Jersey*, for a year, to get him a buddy. When I found Olive* on the street, I scooped up her dirty, emaciated gray coat and she became the ying to Jersey’s yang. It was still cute, adorable even, when we moved to the Dominican Republic with both dogs in their little carry-on cases and I was 8 months pregnant. It became a bit less cute the first summer home with now an 8-month old baby and two dogs in tow. Bordering not really cute was the flight back after that first summer when I was now pregnant again and with a toddler and two dogs. But demolishing cute all together with a wrecking ball was when we flew home with an almost 3-year-old and a 15-month old and two dogs – one of which is now completely blind and somewhat deaf and the other who barks on the plane unless she swallows a tranquilizer.
I laugh as I write this for I believe this kind of traveling has to be the sign of someone who is mentally ill, no? Who would do this to themselves? (A blinking red arrow shows up above my head reading I’m with stupid.)
My my new anxiety of flying/landing aside (which is another post altogether), I have become one of those I Dream of Jeanie style travelers, the I wish I could blink my eyes and be there traveler. We will have to drag bags and car seats through the airport because apparently that is now the customer’s duty and not the airlines’ job, but I digress. We will inevitably be asked by a sympathetic stranger if we need help holding our children – furry or not – so that we could get through security with both kids, both dogs, a stroller, a diaper bag, several carry-ons (including the one with the laptop that must go through security in its own bin), all while not misplacing our passports and tickets and children (thank you squeaky shoes). But at least there’s no layover. (There’s always a silver lining.)
Obviously, the traveling part gets to me. It isn’t at all simple or stress-free like it used to be when it was just Boyfriend and I, so as easy as our short 4-hour flight home is (which is terribly easy and short in comparison to friends flying from New Zealand to Dominican Republic or Shanghai to New Jersey) it is still an all day, travel day with The Partridge Family – or The Manson family depending on which leg you’re catching us.
But here’s the thing… the travel part, the actual being there part… that part I love. We have learned so much about ourselves and about our family in the five years we’ve been abroad. Our views about ourselves and the world have opened and expanded and I wouldn’t trade being able to see the things we see for a life more ordinary or a life less traveled(ing) no matter how anxious traveling makes me. So while the act of traveling isn’t easy, it can be done… and it’s totally worth it.
The point is, don’t let the worry of traveling or the worry of anything being too hard cloud you. Don’t let it stop you because living a life less traveled(ing) is not an option.
* Jersey was coincidentally already named Jersey when we adopted him from North Shore Animal League, the country’s biggest no kill shelter located in Long Island, NY. I took that as a sign.
*Olive did not have a name since she was a street dog when I found her (on the same day we adopted Jersey the year before – another sign). She was named Olive after a Halloween when Husband and I dressed up as Popeye and Olive Oyl. Husband made a terrific skinny, lanky cartoon character.