If that title confused you, don’t worry. It still confuses me too sometimes.
My husband and I travel the USA full time for his job. Full time as in we live out of hotels, most of our belongings are in storage, and we move to a new city every 3 -9 weeks. (You can see more about that on Instagram.)
Did I ever think I would be living this kind of a life? Um, no.
I was never one of those people who collected stamps from around the world, watched the Travel channel obsessively, or bought everything that had the word wanderlust on it. I’ve never itched to travel. I’ve always been perfectly content living in my home in the South with people I knew well in an area I was used to.
The closest I ever came to wanderlust was admiring pictures from around the world and thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool to go there?” But then I’d sigh and push that thought to the corner of my mind where I send all my other nonsensical thoughts. You know — ones like going to the moon, becoming a famous singer, making friends with a celebrity.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to travel. I just didn’t think that was something I’d ever do. Could ever do. Maybe not even be brave enough to do. Traveling, living on the road, giving up the stability of a permanent home — they weren’t even on my radar.
In fact, leaving my corner of the world in humid, sweet tea-drinking, yes ma’am-saying Georgia wasn’t either. Not until my husband and I moved to the opposite side of the country for a couple years did it really hit me that we could go anywhere, live anywhere we wanted. The world opened up to me, and I was mesmerized by both the enormity and the possibility.
While I’m not traveling the world, criss-crossing the USA in rental cars and Delta planes is its own adventure.
We left Oregon and became long-term nomads 4 months ago. Since then, my eyes have slowly been opened to the wealth of underrated places in this country. Places of beauty, cities of history, and communities of culture that so many pass over in exchange for an exotic land.
Our own nation is made up of so many sub-cultures, so much breathtaking scenery, so many inspiring landscapes and people. Seeing new parts of this country with my own eyes has opened up history for me — given me an firsthand look into our nation’s heritage and culture. I see with my own eyes how America truly is the melting pot I’ve always heard people say it is.
Moving from one end of the country to the other and traveling these past few months has not cemented my desire to stay in one place like I thought it would. Rather, it has given me a thirst to see more places, meet more people, discover new cultures — even within our 50 states. You could even say that traveling has given me a bit of wanderlust in my veins.
Because of our travels, I have. . .
Hammocked in a forest beside the end of the Oregon Trail.
Eaten authentic German food to live Polka music.
Watched Old Faithful in action.
Dipped my toes into the cold water of the Pacific Ocean.
Conquered my fear of driving on snowy, frozen roads.
Climbed to the top of the Gateway Arch at night.
Breathed frosty air from the rim of a lake inside a collapsed volcano.
Discovered my love for fried chicken and waffles, smothered in gravy.
Tried dozens of local coffees.
Watched the sun retire for the night from a perch above the Seattle skyline.
But what I remember the most is the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned.
I’ve learned that what works for reaching people in one area doesn’t work in another.
I’ve had a pastor who preached in hiking boots and shorts, whose unassuming nature and focus on Jesus taught me much about the simplicity of the Gospel and of Jesus’ love.
I’ve met people who have challenged me in my faith, inspired my zeal for life, and encouraged me in my struggles.
I’ve realized that everyone has something to teach.
I’ve learned time and time again that being scared to death of something does not mean I can’t do it.
And I’ve developed more empathy for people who are starting over in a new place.
I could go on and on. Exposing myself to so many new things has been so very good for me. It’s refreshing to remember how little I am in this big world yet how loved I am by the One who made it. It’s inspiring to see that people are people wherever you go — we all sleep, we all dream, we all bleed the same blood, we all want to be accepted as we are. It’s invigorating to realize that our way of living, of working, of ministering, isn’t the right way — it’s just the way we’re used to in our corner of the world.
Do I want to be a full-time traveler forever? Definitely not. I need a space that I can make mine, a corner (or maybe a few corners?) of the world that I can call home. We all have a place on Earth where we feel like we belong, more than anywhere else. My husband and I are still trying to find that place for us, and I have a feeling our hearts may be split between a few places. And that’s ok.
During all these travels, I’ve balanced a tension of wanting to discover and learn more, while wanting stability. I still flounder for an answer when people ask me, “Where are you from?” And I’m still grappling with what “home” looks like for me. But for now, this much is true:
1. Traveling opens my eyes to new worlds and new lessons — and I love that.
2. I never want to stop learning and connecting with people from all over.
3. Home, whatever its exact definition at this time in life, has much to do with wherever this man is.
For a deeper look into this unexpected season of traveling, read What No One Told Me About Full-Time Travel (written after traveling full-time for over a year).
This article was originally published on Proof Is In the Writing on March 23, 2018.