This weekend, we will head out of town for the sixth time in ten weeks. This will be Alida’s fourth wedding, and unfortunately, I’m having a hard time getting excited about it. I feel bad because I want to look forward to it. I want to be excited to meet more of Jonathan’s family. I want to enjoy visiting a new place.
But, I’m tired.
It’s hard for me to even put this into words because I love traveling. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I’m thankful that we are able to see our friends and family more than most. I’m thankful that our trips take us beautiful places. But, traveling all the time also has its drawbacks.
When I first started to fly, I didn’t have any control over my life. I flew when they told me to. Because of this, I missed out on a lot of things. Anything that required regular attendance was out of the question. And once I got a little flexibility in my schedule I started taking advantage of my flight benefits. I mean, what’s the point in having them if you aren’t using them?
During this time, though, there were major changes happening in my life. I left the church community I grew up in because it was unhealthy. I was finally single after years of on and off unhealthiness. I had moved back to Atlanta after 8 months overseas and was out of touch with loved ones.
Traveling didn’t help any of this.
I had difficulty finding a new church because I was never home on Sundays. I missed out on a lot of events with my family and friends because I couldn’t plan anything and was gone all the time. And try dating someone when your off days are Tues-Thurs. (This is one reason people date within their industry.)
Fast forward five years. I’m married and living in Vietnam. One of the main reasons we moved there was to travel, so we did. And while I managed to establish several relationships in Saigon, I know I missed out on a lot by not having a consistent presence in the city. Even among the pilot group, it was difficult to really get to know people unless you traveled together (which we did when we could.)
Now we are back in Atlanta. Because of my pregnancy, we didn’t travel very much in the winter. We started attending church regularly, but didn’t really make friends. We thought of joining a small group, but since Jonathan’s schedule is always changing, we never did. I was able to do several things on a fairly regular basis (prenatal yoga and serving chili to the homeless). Jonathan joined me when he could (chili – not yoga.)
Slowly, I started to connect to people around me. I attended a ladies brunch at church and met a few people. I made friends with a girl in yoga. I started catching up with old friends.
Then Alida came, and everything got thrown into disarray. And about a month later, we started traveling again. Now it’s all I can do to keep up with my family – much less my old friends or any new ones. I can never plan a week of meals. All the herbs I’ve tried to grow have died.
Occasionally, I browse the archives of my blog. Whatever month it is, I pick that month every year as far back as I can. Looking back recently, I found a post where, in the same breath, I envied and pitied people who sleep in the same bed in the same city every single night. I still feel the same way. Part of me craves the consistency and stability of staying at home, while the other part of me is planning the next trip.
Now that Alida is here, I’ve been thinking about it even more. She is getting to the age where it’s possible to establish routines. I don’t want her to have my terrible sleeping habits, so I’ve been trying to learn how to help her. Everywhere I look, it tells me “be consistent.” But I’m not sure how to do that. I don’t know how to reconcile the fact that we are a traveling family with our need for routines and regular bedtimes.
Now it’s time to head to the airport. What are your thoughts? How do you balance the need for consistency with the demands of being active people? How do you plan meals and budgets when you spend half the month on the road? Is it just as hard to keep up with people when you’re local?