485 Days Since We Last Spoke
It’s been awhile (ok, over a year) since you last heard from us. Several times we attempted to reignite the blog, but ultimately Ken summarized it supremely -- “after reading about trekking through jungles, I don’t think anyone cares about our weekend trip to Home Depot.”
So we’ll be brief and summarize a few snippets of societal reintegration from the past year:
#1: Got jobs. Neither of us really wanted to, but ultimately we decided for our long term stability we should have income. Ken was shocked to find that the law of diminishing returns applied to television viewing so he stumbled upon a great job leading West Coast Client Services at Turn, Inc (thanks Chris!) -- or as Ken says, “working for the man.” And I started working at Stanford Hospital and Clinics (thanks Busby!)
#2: Answered the question, “Where was your favorite place?” in a genuine but brief way (we call it the Travel Elevator Speech). Quick answer: Rwanda and Thailand.
- Went shopping and bought stuff! (doesn’t really matter what we bought, but it’s better that we really didn’t need it)
- Only referenced travel when prompted, “this one time in Tanzania...” gets really old
- Painted the house green, planted a vegetable garden, enjoyed the stability of always having a bed at night
We came back meandering, trying to redefine our lives. It took us months (staring at each other: what are we supposed to do now?) of learning some lessons along the way:
We had to stop comparing life to “how it used to be” and be happy for the moments we are currently living in. Because let’s be honest, comparing traffic jams to drinking Singha’s on the beaches of Thailand, just can’t compare.
We questioned American culture; we started judging ourselves. When we first returned we were convinced living with less was a priority, but within three months we were shopping for a BMW. Then we felt guilty for wanting the BMW. Ultimately, we’re still trying to find a balance between nomadic austerity and luxurious excess.
We are so grateful for the fabulous year we have had in San Francisco. Our abbreviated list of awesome adventures since our last blog ...
Visited family in LA, Wisconsin & Iowa
Camped/hiked at Yosemite, Marin Headlands, Big Bear, Big Basin, and Donner Lake
Travelled internationally for the Calgary Stampede and Shelley/Jeff’s Costa Rican wedding
Hosted visitors to San Francisco: Margie, Myron, Sheila, Roy, Chuck, Donna, Steph, Brian, Theresa, John, Amos, Donna, Lou, Roop, Andy, Jordan, Jim, and Jesell (apologies if we missed anyone)
Witnessed friends’ marriages (Emily/Kyle, Mike/Mahasa, Shelley/Jeff) and Ken even officiated a wedding under the Golden Gate Bridge (Patty/Lex)
Held on to the tradition of TPN - Turkey Poker Night (Vegas - Binu, Daisy, and Andy)
Spent the winter skiing at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows (got our first season passes!) including renting a house with Chris/Brett/Megan/Steve
Sailed on the San Francisco bay
Revisited the site of our marriage - Evergreen Lodge (we love it there!) and Maui/Kauai again (our home away from home)
Started classes at UC-Berkeley Extension for a two-year Certificate in Health Advocacy
Reacquainted ourselves with our favorite American stores (Whole Foods, Costco, Bed/Bath/&Beyond, REI) and nestled back into our comfy home (single cup coffee makers, Alhambra water service, king beds with clean sheets, washer/dryer).
Now that we’re back we love quoting “first world problems” as we experience them and fondly remember our year away as if it were a dream. (Did it really happen?) Whenever we recognize our first-world-dramatic tendencies, we cheer “first world problem” and high-five each other! We welcome you to join our new tradition of ridiculousness.
- Ken: my high thread count sheets are too slippery
- Hillary: my new food processor has too many accessories
- Ken: the new SUV has a built in DVD player and I don’t even want it
- Ken: why does the cleaning lady have to move everything in the house?
- Hillary: we have too much food in the refrigerator
- Ken: the locker room at the private gym is under renovation. Now I have to change pool-side.
We can’t lie, there are some things about our year away that we seriously yearn for:
- freedom to see and do whatever we want
- living with less, no expectations
- having time to read books, scuba dive, or just be
- meeting new international friends
Now that we’ve happily stabilized we can look back fondly and remember our lessons learned (advice we wished we had known)
- travel beneath your means - you’ll experience more
- get out of the cities, allow yourself to be unscheduled, travel light
- be overtly kind (overcompensate for the American stereotype)
- help others along the way
- be respectful of when and how you take photographs
- don’t allow fear of the unknown (or work) hold you back
- never forget that 95% of the world lives under drastically different conditions than in the U.S.
- go to fewer places, immerse in the culture, stay longer