I’m home

2 Oct

From the very beginning, this journey has been an adventure.  A big part of the experience has been the practice of being in the present moment while exploring multiple options for the future and seeing what unfolds.  And so it seems on this journey that just when I think the road is taking me in one direction, a new possibility presents itself and another path is considered.  Just four weeks ago I was in the countryside in France.  I had connected with various hosts through the website helpx in different areas of Europe with the intent of continuing my time in Europe.  And just when it seemed the next step was there to take… something would change.  I had considered various possibilities… house sitting on an Island in Greece, working at a Bed and Breakfast in Italy…. none of them it seemed was just the right fit…

Then about 6 weeks ago I got an email.  A new opportunity was presented to me… an opportunity that for now I will keep secret… but with that opportunity my travel considerations looked… different.  I followed up with the email.  As things began to unfold it seemed a new direction was emerging.  A new thought entered my brain in the face of this opportunity… Maybe I should return to the States for a bit… wow, that… is unexpected!  This presented a few challenges for me, the lightest of which was, “what will I call my website if I am no longer a wondering flower growing in Europe…”  Alas, I digressed and started opening doors to possibly return to the States…

I began with my trusted friend helpx.net and started sending off letters of interests to many different hosts in the States that looked inviting and welcoming to me…  An artist in Hollywood, a bed and breakfast on a boat in the bay near San Francisco, picking fruit in Hawaii.  I shopped hastily for cheap flights back to the States.  I had a time clock that was ticking… my commitment was to leave my current host in France at the end of August… the number of days remaining were getting fewer and fewer.  There was new possibility… but still no definite plans.

I eagerly checked my email daily, hourly, moment to moment awaiting news from possible helpx hosts who could provide me with a place to land in the States.  Simultaneously I was also considering a possibility to visit with a host in Northern Spain, an opportunity that was still tempting.  Days ticked by until… finally… I got a reply from a host in the States that seemed like the right connection.  A few more precious days passed until clearly I had an agreement with the helpx host in the States and I had a green light to purchase a ticket.

I used the search engine whichbudget.com and found some very affordable flights back to the States on just a few weeks notice.  And so, in somewhat of a daze I booked a ticket and it seemed I was going back to the States.

After being in Europe for 15 months with a mind focused on travel and moving forward, going back to the States was unexpected.  But I did the only thing there is to do on this journey… I walked step by step through the path and plans I laid out for myself.  I couldn’t believe I was going back.  Boarding the plane in Paris seemed like going through a wormhole… like some sort of time travel from one way of being to another that was familiar… and yet not the same.

My journey back was long enough.  I flew from Paris to Frankfurt Germany and then Frankfurt to Baltimore, Maryland.  In Baltimore I took a train to my destination and so I now  find myself… in Philadelphia.  The City of Brotherly Love.  I flew Condor airlines back to the States after discovering their great last-minute deals on International flights.  Oddly enough, there was a great deal flying from Frankfurt to Baltimore.

When I arrived in the States, I prepared to go through customs.  I showed my passport to the officer and he said to me, “welcome home”.  While I wasn’t exactly weepy eyed to return, it felt good to be someplace where I was a “member”, where the information on my passport communicated very clearly “you are welcome here!”…

It took about a week for my mind and body to more fully arrive in the States.  I stayed at first with a friend from New Orleans now living in Philadelphia who graciously offered me her futon, a place of refuge to relax a bit before beginning my next adventure in trading.  I walked in legs that didn’t feel like my own through the familiar strangeness of an American city.  It was joyful for me to be able to communicate with strangers in the streets after months of limiting conversation in the midst of foreign languages.  Even though I was in a new city, after negotiating foreign cities in Europe where I didn’t speak the language, finding my way in Philly was easy… and liberating. It took me a few weeks to get used to the idea that the people in the city around me did indeed speak English and that when I picked up a paper, magazine, or grocery item, I could read whatever it might say on the headline or package.  I woke up once in the middle of the night truly startled and unclear about where I was… “I don’t understand what’s going on…” I cried.  My kind friend immediately responded, “You’re in Philadelphia”.    Her words came through a thick wall… just a glimmer of information received while I put the pieces together and slowly laid down and went back to sleep.

After a week of much-needed time for adaptation, I connected with my new hosts.  I hitched a ride with my friend’s friend as she was heading just a few miles from my host’s home.  We easily connected and I hopped into her 1994 gold Mercedes and we were off.  A new adventure to begin.

Since I am back in the States, I must admit, I feel less like a traveler.  Sure I am in a new place and I have seen some touristy things like visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, very cool by the way.  But here, in the States, the syncopation feels more to me like… my regular life then daily living in Europe.  While I am here I have a little business to take care of… like renewing my driver’s license that expired some time ago and preparations for my new possibility more easily sewn from home soil.

And so I continue… my practice of being present in the midst of change and new plans unfolding.  My helpx hosts in Philadelphia are a busy family living in a sweet historic area just within the city limits called Mt. Airy.  I am happily placed in a private room on the third floor amidst a busy family, running a business from home and two young boys, ages 4 and 7.  It is a big change for me from the quiet respite of the French countryside.   Since arriving, I have found my way here in little ways… attending yoga classes at a studio down the street, meeting with my New Orleans connection for a Reiki exchange.  The neighborhood here is filled with regular faces who I am already recognizing as I make my way in their world… to the neighborhood street festival and local co-op.

I am doing a variety of things here as part of my help exchange.  I am using my design and marketing skills to help support their growing home business.  I also help with basic things around the house like keeping the kitchen clean and organizing places and corners in need of attention.  From time to time I am able to give my hosts a Reiki treatment and sometimes give an extra hand with caring for the children.

But here I am, back in the States.  Just another step in my unexpected journey.

And so, I leave you pondering one of  the deeper questions of life… what should I call my website now that I am no longer “a wandering flower in Europe”…  Any suggestions?

Photo of the Liberty Bell, up close and personal.

3 Responses to “I’m home”

  1. Jean Vegas 02/10/2012 at 03:51 #

    Call your website “Full Circle”.
    Welcome home Nancy. Thanks for sharing your adventure.
    Jean Vegas

  2. Cheap Flights (@WhichBudget) 05/10/2012 at 09:45 #

    Glad you had a good trip around Europe. And thanks for giving http://www.whichbudget.com the thumbs up! By the way, your link to WhichBudget is broken: you linked to “whichbudget.com” but the link should be “http://www.whichbudget.com” instead … just one of those funny HTML things. 😉

    • nancieteresa 05/10/2012 at 14:43 #

      You’re welcome! It was a resource that made a big difference to me in finding an affordable flight. Thanks for the heads up on the broken link!

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