Home— and It’s Complicated

I wake up and I don’t know what to do.

It’s not just that I have a choice that is difficult, but I honestly, on my first day home, have no idea what I should do. I wander around the apartment and look at the boxes that need unpacking, the suitcase with laundry and papers spilling out, the mail I picked up. Someone sent me a damn Christmas card.

I sit on the sofa and play a game of Candy Crush– self-soothing. Then I begin.

Where to begin?

In the shower, I don’t know where to set the water handle. Having lived in this place less than a week before I went to Peru, the faucet is less familiar than the one in my hotel in Lima. Then I get dressed (and those who have travelled with me will understand the significance of this) in clothes that are not green. I make coffee and start making a list.

Looking from a distance, travel may seem complicated, but the day to day is very simple. There is usually a schedule of where to go and when. Decisions are immediate and small. What to wear, based on the weather and the very limited selection in the bag. How much to take out of the ATM, and do I go there before or after dinner? Should I buy this souvenir?

At home, the list just grows and grows. Contact the property manager about the leak. Find out why I can’t log on to my internet provider’s website. Let the insurance company know that there are sprinklers inside the apartment. Call the bank about the education funds. Buy groceries. Unpack the boxes. Get rid of excess stuff. Decide if I’m going to get out any Christmas decorations.

So many people I want to see in person, now that I’m home! But they have schedules and obligations. Sixty kilometres by road is harder to navigate than 8000 kilometres electronically.

What will my life look like, going forward? So many options. So many possibilities. So many roads, and how can I choose one when I can’t see further than the first curve?

All you can do on the trail is go forward.

I think back to the Inca Trail. Wake, pack up, eat, and then walk. One step at a time, one path to follow. I was only on the trail for four days, but I start to see the appeal of the longer trails that people walk. El Camino de Santiago. The Pacific Crest Trail. The Basho Wayfarer. Torres del Paine.

Facing the abyss of my open-ended future, I also begin to understand those, like my (ex)husband, who try to manage uncertainty by attempting to keep everything the same. Don’t change jobs or retire, don’t move, don’t disrupt the schedule. If forced to, try to get back to as close to the original as possible. Go on holiday to places you have been before. Soothe anxiety about potential, inevitable change with equal parts denial and routine.

I take a breath and move forward. If I take the wrong path, I can backtrack. Perhaps new paths will appear once I turn that first corner.

Wherever this leads me, however complicated it gets, I will be OK. I will be brave.

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