175. Getting Back to Normal

Getting Back to Normal: As if we needed another major milestone to prove that you can quit your life for a while, travel the world, and come back to a better deal. As if getting engaged wasn’t enough. Or good new jobs. Or a really nice homecoming party. So today we bought a house.

Less than three months after returning home from seventeen months of homeless wandering, we have walls and a roof, a mortgage, something called a “drip irrigation system,” and even a tenant renting a basement apartment from us. We had every honest intention of renting an apartment for the next year, saving money and watching the market, but have you tried finding a reasonable one-bedroom in a nice location that allows pets, recently? It’s a nightmare. So we bypassed renting and bought a nice little three bedroom house that’s two blocks away from my favorite buffalo wing joint and four blocks away from my second favorite tiki karaoke bar. The irony of this entire process was that the apartment management companies we dealt with were far more suspicious of the gap in our employment and housing histories than the mortgage lenders. Everything has changed in the housing market. Nothing has changed in the housing market.

Normalcy has its divine moments. When we’re having brunch in the kitchen of sweet friends. When we’re walking hand-in-hand on sunny, familiar streets. Or when we want to drink water straight from the tap. But even in those best moments our minds wander. Little things bring memories flooding back. We were walking the other day and came across a local Chinese restaurant that had in its front window, a giant photo of the proprietor shaking hands with the Oregon governor when he once visited the restaurant. If you’ve been to China, you know to recognize each and every shop that Chairman Mao visited in his lifetime in this same way – a giant, near billboard-sized photo blow-up of an ecstatic tea shop owner shaking hands with a jowly Mao Zedong.

So now we dream again. We escape into our memories when deadlines get us down. We fantasize about long-term travel, like everyone else. But maybe not like everyone else, because we know how possible it is – dare I say how easy it is – to come home again and find nothing but good news.


  1. Sloan says:

    PS – I have lots of ideas but no decision on what to do with this web page. I like the idea of keeping a running travel log. And I like the idea of this existing as a discreet document of our trip. And I also have lots of surplus stuff from the last year that could still be added. So.

  2. I think you should keep it. I didn’t tune in until later and haven’t had time to read back from the beginning yet. And I’d like to some day. :)

    I’ve been checking in sporadically to see how you two adjusted back to normal life.

  3. Nick Calvin says:

    I don’t know either of you, but your stories and the various accounts of your travels have been very encouraging for me personally. Having just graduated college and now feeling stuck in my job and needing, badly, to escape from its restraints, this site has given me hope that it is indeed possible to get out and see the world without losing everything in the process. Just that is reason enough to keep the site.
    Also, I know that the post-travel experience is still very much a part of the travel experience as a whole and am sure that your views and lives were drastically changed by those months spent traveling. To read about how those changes effect your new-old lives back home would be very interesting and another reason to keep it going!

  4. laura says:

    wow – i found your blog earlier this week doing some random search on vw busses ( we just bought an 87 westy – not as much character as your 77). i’ve spent 3 or 4 sittings of reading through your entries, and i am in awe. i wish i could find a way to live that kind of life. alas, 2 kids, a husband, 3 pets, and a mortgage – they put a crimp in that dream. but you two lived the dream. i’m impressed by your determination, your writing and photography skills, and your insight.

    now that i have come to the end, i feel a little sad that it is over. i can only imagine how YOU must have felt.

    congratulations on your trip, your engagement, your new job opportunities, and your new home! much happiness to you both!

  5. mama Cass says:

    You should leave this site as is, but use #176 as an advertisement for your Starting a New Life as a Writer blog website. Right?

  6. The thing to do, I think, is to wrap this one up as the discrete tale it is, and segue into a new site about what you’re doing now. Makes it easy to know where the cut-off line is when you turn this thing into a book.

    Which you’ll do, yes?

  7. SportsFan's Daughter says:

    If you delete this site I will hunt you down and punch you in the throat. Okay, just kidding. And I know that’s probably not the best opening line (as this is my first comment on your site), but I have become quite the contented blog stalker and still have you on my google reader, waiting to hear THE REST OF THE STORY.

  8. sloan says:

    Did you just reference AM radio legend Paul Harvey?

  9. SportsFan's Daughter says:

    Sloan – I will neither confirm nor deny your suspicion until you let me know where I can read more of your writing.

  10. Kara says:

    Happened upon your blog today through someone nominating you as th best travel blog and couldn’t agree with them more. Amazing, amazing story your guys are living. I think everyone wishes they had the nerve to quit their job and “wander.” You don’t make it sound so scary. thanks for sharing your adventure.

  11. Resa says:

    Greet from China!
    This website is the coolest website that i ever followed.
    Congrats on your new life! I really wish you guys keep writing bout ur journey . =)

  12. Anonymous says:

    I read the whole Odyssey. No, not THAT one, (I'm a journalism major, not one of those bookworms.) No, yours and Amy's. Followed every episode. The whole thing. Better than LOST.


    (Now sobbing.)

    Ohhhhh. You've made me SO very proud, son.

    Have a great life together.

    Another check is in the mail.

    Jane Pauley

    ( WORD VERIFICATION? What's that…and what the hell is "brync" anyway? )