August is promising to be a pretty eventful month, with the impending arrival of Baby Twenty-Something Travel and all. Before that emotional and physical tsunami hits though, it seems important to remember and remark that the beginning of August also marks my two year anniversary of living in Seattle, after nearly half a decade of nomadic living.
Two years! Two years of steep hills, rainy days (and beyond beautiful sunny ones), and mountains in the distance. Two years of shopping at the local farmer’s market and buying luscious $5 bouquets. Two years of lying down in the same bed every night and waking up to my own desk, my own books, my own stuff.
Granted, sitting still looks a bit different when you are as obsessed with travel as Mike and I are. The past two years have taken me across oceans, to foreign places like Sri Lanka, Japan, Portugal and Spain as well as domestic destinations like Hawaii, Alaska, Boston and my old favorite Milwaukee. Mike’s work has taken him to South Africa and Germany among other places. We’ve done local trips too, to Portland, the San Juan Islands and Vancouver. We are already planning several international trips with the baby for next year.
But the majority of the time we are here, in our lovely two bedroom in Seattle. We have the cutest dog ever, furniture, a social life, even a gym membership. I think it’s the best decision we could have made for ourselves.
From the outside it’s hard to see why anyone would want to give up such a glamorous lifestyle. Living and working nomadically, traveling the world, having constant adventures and totally neglecting the banalities of day to day life at home. It’s a dream of many, and for awhile it really did feel like a dream, but like so many things, reality was more complicated.
A lot of nomadic travel writers I know have gone through very similar struggles in the last year or so and started to look for a home base somewhere in the world. Trying to balance travel with work and having a fully actualized life is hard.
My friend Dave (who recently house-sat of us during our Japan trip) just wrote a really honest article that exams a lot of the reasons why life on the road started to lose it’s luster. The bottom line is that while constant travel is fun, it can start to feel very one dimensional. Your life starts to revolve around nothing but your next destination, and other important parts of a full life- like a social life, your health, your non-travel hobbies, just totally fall by the wayside.
This really hit us when we were living in Sayulita in 2014. We were basically in paradise, just a few blocks from the beach, with plentiful cheap tacos and abundant sunshine all winter long. It was amazing, but it all was totally under appreciated as we sat at our computers 10+ hours a day trying to make ends meet. We were bored with being workaholics, we were lonely with only each other for company and we knew there was no way we could start a family under these conditions. It was a beautiful time in many ways but also a really stressful one.
So we made a radical change. Mike got his wonderful job with Woo, we traded flip flops for umbrellas and moved to a city we barely knew, but liked the general look of. We rented a tiny apartment in Capitol Hill and waited to see how this new set up might work for us.
Since we’ve been in Seattle life has changed a lot in certain ways, not so much in others. We have access to nearly every kind of cuisine imaginable, and my passion for cooking has deepened now that I have a kitchen and pantry of my own. I have a legit social life and live less than a mile from my best friend (what a luxury!). I have Leo and soon, a baby, the most life changing thing of all.
BUT, I still get to write all day, and spend lots of time with my awesome husband. We still explore and try new foods and new things. We still travel, and when we do it feels more like a vacation than a chore- which still feels super precious.
Adventure is great, but stability has a lot going for it too. The trick is finding the right balance between the two: incorporating travel into a full life that also includes work, family, friends, passions and canine cuddle time.
I’m still working on that, and I’m sure it’s a balance that will need extreme re-calibration going forward, but I think that’s healthy. And while we love Seattle I’m not convinced it will be our forever home- we still have a lot of the world to see, and now that we have EU citizenship in our reach, there are a lot of possibilities just waiting to be seized.
Who knows what the future holds, but we will stay here until we’re not happy with it anymore, then we’ll do something else. In the meantime life keeps on changing, which is wonderful. Whether I’m traveling or not, the one thing I never want to do is stand still.