When people find out what we are planning to do, there are a few questions that come up very regularly. One of which is: “How can you leave your family and what about your grandchildren?”
When we decided that Vagabonding and traveling the world was something that we wanted to look onto more seriously, our family is the first place we sought input.
On Thursday nights at our house, we have “Family Dinner”. It is something we started when all of our kids were still in school. We decided that no matter how busy we were as a family that we would eat together as a family at least one night a week. That was one of the best things we have ever done. It is a tradition that keeps on to this day. All of our kids are grown and have careers and most are in serious relationships growing families of their own. On Thursday nights however, everyone still comes to our house for a free meal and the company of family.
It was at one of these dinners that we shared our excitement and an idea with our kids. We told them that we were thinking of getting rid of all of our stuff and then spend an undetermined amount of time traveling and exploring the world. We explained that we wanted to know their thoughts because it would also affect them. We may not be available to for somethings. We may not be able to fly back from where ever we are at to attend birthdays or maybe even weddings. We shared with them the vision we had for exploring the world while we were still young and not wanting to wait for someday. They were more than encouraging! They told us to go for it and to be sure that we are in someplace awesome when it was time for them to vacation.
We realized at that moment that our kids had assured us that our life was ours to live. They have always supported us in whatever crazy idea or adventure we wanted to do. We have also come to realize that they are adults and have their lives to forge. They have shown us that no matter where we go, that we have created a closeness that can span any distance, ocean or continent. With today’s technology we will still be able to talk and see them (albeit online) all of the time. Our family group text will not suddenly stop and we will not be away from them really at all.
Last night on our way home from a church event I began reflecting on something else. There is something that we are going to miss a lot and it will certainly leave a hole. we are speaking of what we will call community.
This is going to be hard to explain, but we will do our best. Life is made up of a few groups. the biggest two are the ones we will speak to. Of course you have your family and your closest friends. This is the core group of people that you allow close to you. Your parents, children and closest friends. These are the people that we most thought of when planning our trip and who we wanted to know how we could change the dynamic of that relationship to weather the challenges of distance. That is pretty easy and we discussed some of that already. Those close relationships will always be there. they are stronger than distance and will simply adapt. The group we want to talk about really is what we would call our close “community”.
For us, that community is made up mostly of people from Church with some spattering of friends that we may not call “close”, but we certainly cherish the time we do get to spend with them. Community is a very important part of all of our lives. Community helps shape who we are, how we view things, and can support and nurture us emotionally and physically. Community is a large crowd full of familiar faces. Each face and person has a place and we look forward to individual interactions with them. We may not see the individuals every day, every week or even every month, but when we do, it is always something to look forward to. Those even occasional interactions make up our community relationships.
Last night at an annual church gathering we realized that our community was going to change drastically. With us abroad, contact with our existing community will have to be on purpose. There will be no happenstance meetings. There will be no just bumping into someone in the grocery store or in line at a coffee shop.Getting together for dinner a few times a year will not be possible. (unless you want to come visit!) Having a real conversation with someone we know and just ran into in the church lobby will not happen. This is one of the things we will miss most. We will miss our own personal community and the relationships we have forged over the years. Of course we hope to keep communications open and to stay in contact but, the reality is that it will change. We still have a year left, but we are really cherishing every interaction until then.
It is funny how as we get closer to leaving and experience some of our “lasts here in the States”, that the reality of our choices becomes more clear. It will certainly be an adventure and we are so very excited!
We are excited to meet new people and experience new things. We are excited to forge a new community and hope that if you are reading this that you will join us and stay apart of our lives.