Iowa has been my home, bubble, social connection, and safe place for the past 30 years. I met my husband in high school (insert eye roll), followed him to college (stage 4 clinger?), married him eight years later, bought our first home in Des Moines, and began our careers amongst a supportive group of family and friends.
Fast forward seven years later: sold our first home, quit our jobs (some would argue career suicide), and are currently saying goodbye (see you later?) to many family and friends. I decided to quit my job over a month before leaving on our van trip. I knew there would be many (turned out to be MANY) last minute van preparations. I also knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could visiting family, friends, and my two beloved pets.
I told my brother-in-law leading up to the trip that since I was homeless (aka living between our parents’ homes and couch surfing with friends), I have been living out of a duffel bag for the past month. His response: “It’s better than a dumpster.” Yes it is and I have a feeling that statement will come in handy often during our trip.
Unfortunately, I know I will quickly learn just how much I have taken my tight knit group of friends and family for granted once I leave. Living in the same city has made home so much more fun. Both of our parents are just 45 minutes away. The amount of time we get to see them, even for just a few hours for dinner, I truly cherish and know that I am lucky.
Yes, technology is amazing and I will be ecstatic for every call, text, and video chat but a hug from family and friends is something technology just can’t replicate. I’ve had to say many “goodbyes” these past four weeks. Each time getting back into the car with tears streaming down my face. Yes I know we will be back but knowing that I can’t pop over anytime to see someone makes it very hard. No, Jason and I don’t have children of our own, but we do have 1 niece, 3 nephews and 1 niece on the way. As I was telling a friend, “Aunt Life is the best life” and I just hope those little ones still remember me the next time I see them in person.
This isn’t supposed to make you feel sorry for me, I know I am selfishly choosing this. I just realized as we were getting ready for this trip just how truly lucky I am for the time I have been able to spend with everyone. It’s true “the people make the place,” which is why I think Iowa is pretty darn amazing. To the few family and friends that no longer live in the Midwest, I am stoked to see you all along the way. Familiar faces in new places will be just what the doctor ordered for two homesick travelers.