Coming home and Being home….two very different things

It’s strange to be home.  There really isn’t a way to describe it.  Even before we arrived I knew it would be.  I didn’t have a house to go to, or a job to go to.  Some of the things that made this part of the world feel like home, are no longer there. I was excited to see my family and friends. And that of course, was indescribably wonderful…but it lasted for about five minutes (well, that’s not exactly fair, but you hopefully know what I mean).  Then everyone understandably goes back to work, or goes home, and here I am….still homeless, still unemployed, and now not really connected to this town like I once was.  It can leave you feeling rootless and unsettled.  What’s more, this isn’t Brian’s home or his family and friends, so he doesn’t feel connected to this place as much as I do, and after four years on the road, he is even more restless than I.  And I can feel the pull of the road still tugging on him.

I had been gone long enough that my mind had filed away tidbits of information that I used to take for granted and replaced them with more current and relevant information. I can tell you all sorts of things about South America and even have a decent, basic conversation in Spanish now.  But I can no longer tell you the name of the street the Post Office is on without having to think about it first and dig into some memory vault for the name.

Brian and I spent the first week of our time in South Dakota with my dad and Fran. They spoiled us rotten with good food and drinks, and a comfie bed.  It was such a luxury, and we loved every minute of it.  I had made a mini-Christmas for myself by sending home care packages from all over the Americas, which I opened with excitement.  Harley shirts (remember, I’m from Sturgis…), handmade crafts, books, souvenirs, etc. from a dozen different countries.  And we celebrated my birthday just a few days after I got home both with family, and my sister threw a “girls night” with friends.  My step-mother had us over a wonderful July 4th family bbq.  So all the celebrations kept my spirits high.

Over the next couple of weeks I have a series of mini-reunions that keep bright spots on my calendar and keep me upbeat….I see my niece, and my grandmother, my sisters and other loved ones….and friends.  It makes my heart full.

After a week, we moved in to my friend Jennifer’s home.  She and her two cats, Bambino and Heidi, welcomed us with open arms (and paws).  Jen’s got a gorgeous home on a pine-covered hillside in Rapid City, the perfect place to land and recuperate.  Our room isn’t just any guest room.  It has an en suite bath, a walk-in closet and a fireplace.  She has given us the master bedroom of her home, lined her shelves with food and offered us this oasis for as long as we like, rent-free.

To say that Jennifer is generous is like saying the Himalayas are cute lil’ nubbins of hills…She has an enormous heart. She knows I’m thinking of writing a book and has another empty guest room which she tells me is mine for a writing room if I want it.  She knows we have friends coming through the area this summer and offers her home to be not just a place for us to crash, but our home…in every sense of the word. She tells us to invite friends, for a dinner or a drink, or even to stay.

See what I mean?  Generous doesn’t even begin to describe it.

From the beginning Jen has been a complete, unconditional and active supporter of me and my crazy moto-adventure dream. She was a sounding board and a helper, a co-hort and a devils advocate.  She flew down to see me on the trip, not once, but twice.  She brought Brian and I chains and sprockets and all sorts of things in Nicaragua, after a rugged and long journey by bus from Costa Rica (the closest place she could find flights to).  She treated me to a massage and a gourmet lunch that started with dessert first. And she came again to see me in Ecuador, bringing me more gear, and spending only a couple of nights with me as she had to get home to the United States to her job.  Imagine travelling all that way to give me supplies, and more importantly, a hug and some much needed girl time, but only being able to stay a couple of days.

That’s Jen.  I’m so lucky, and so grateful, to have her friendship in my life.

As we sleep in a few morning and get settled, I start to get a little restless.  Being in this town, and being off the road, makes me feel like I need to get a job and get back to being a contributing member of society.  I start reaching out to contacts for work.  One business world friend had offered me a job the summer I left, but I had to pass on it since I was at the beginning of the trip.  He said he would hold it open for me for several months, but I was gone much longer than that. He is one of the first people I reach out to, and the offer, thankfully, still stands.

The hotel company I used to work for is supposedly looking for a manager, having had a lot of turnover in the last two years.  Brian and I drive by the house that I sold right before leaving on the trip, and it coincidently, is for sale. Crazy to think one of my old jobs and my last home is empty as I come back to town.  Sort of feels like I could slip right back into my old life…even if that’s not quite true and isn’t at all what I want.

People had said that it would be strange to go home after being gone so long, and it is.  Not so much because everything and everyone is practically the same and time feels like it stood still.  But moreover for me, it’s because I don’t feel connected to it anymore.  I feel like I am somewhere between the life I had here before I left, and the life I made for myself on the road….but I’m not actually in either one anymore.  Time will change that, and this unsettled feeling, I’m sure.

I have ideas of what I want my new life to be, and with luck and hard work, and a little time…hopefully I can get there. In the meantime, I’m fine with this strange feeling, this awkwardness…I think it’s part of the process.  I’m glad I’m not stuck in the old rut, and have the chance to start from scratch…wherever and whatever I choose.  So let’s see what I can do with it…..And let’s see what Brian and I can create together.

Wish me luck.  No doubt I will need it.

For anyone who is reading this, I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read along. My blog has been a journal of sorts, for me to go back and remember the incredible two-year journey I was able to share with Brian. And I wanted to share it with family and friends, or anyone who wanted to take a peek at places that most of us never get to see.

I wish you each your own incredibly beautiful journey, whether it’s in your own backyard or the other side of the world.

Much love,



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  1. Hello Michelle, this is so beautifully written and you are a very lucky girl it seems. Wishing you and Brian all the best for the new chapter in your life.
    We’re still on the road but I love reading about the experiences of people coming home after a trip like this.
    Maybe we’ll see you again somewhere.

  2. from the bottom of my heart…thank you for taking us along on your journey…i look forward to the next one!

  3. You can always settle in Iowa! 🙂

    In all seriousness, it has been awesome to follow along with your travels and get your perspective of how the rest of the world lives – for better or worse. You are amazing and brave for stepping far out of your comfort zone to literally take on the world!

    Looking forward to that conversation so that we can catch up. In the meantime, lots of love sent your way from both Tara and me.

  4. Michelle, your thoughtful stories always touch my heart.
    I wish you find a right way for you, where you will feel yourself at the right place and do something which brings joy and fulfillment.
    And know, I’m waiting for you in Seattle, in any time of year – just send me a message to the Facebook. I guarantee a sofa, tasty food, and can guide you all around WA)


  5. Michelle,
    Thank you for the amazing story of your travels. I have spent the last month reading a few entries each night before I go bed. I have read through the whole trip from start to finish. You have done a trip I can only dream about. Thank you for inviting us to travel along with you!

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