Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Is Where I Want To Be

I want to be in South America traveling in the Yoda Van! Allison and Matthias, you guys are my heroes! So many of us talk about traveling for a year with our kids but you guys are actually doing it! Look at you go, woooohooo! These photos are from your first blog entry, I hope you don't mind me stealing them - they are so great!

Allison is American and is married to Matthias who is from Germany. They have two wonderful bilingual boys. We got to know them in our local German language playgroup, Kinderstube, and quickly became friends. Perhaps it is our mutual die-hard hippy perspectives that brought us together? We both drive VW vans (ok, we don't actually DRIVE ours right now since it is broken down but one day we will drive into the sunset again with our Vanagon!) and they used to drive a Eurovan but sold it for an air-cooled VW van (the Yoda Van) for their year-long trip. Way to go hippy friends! Drive on, drive on!

When we heard they would be quitting their jobs, selling their Eurovan, purchasing an air-cooled VW van, and driving south through the Americas for a year with their two sons, we were in awe. What a fabulous thing to do. This is the kind of experience that can define you for a lifetime, for many lifetimes! How envious I am of you guys. You are actually living your dream.

I remember travels in our VW Camper Van when I was young. Those are some of my most wonderful memories. It isn't really any of the actual events that stick in my mind, it is more the overwhelming feeling that overcomes me when I think back on those trips from California through Mexico. There was something that felt like total freedom, the unknown unfolding before us, even though I was only a child. I remember wind in my hair as we drove along the desert roads and drawing pictures of what I saw pass by on the fold-out table in our VW. This is a taste of travel and freedom that has stuck with me for my entire life and has helped to define who I am inside and out. This may even be the source of the joy that I feel each time we take our road trips from Seattle to California and back.

I long to see what Allison and Matthias are seeing, to smell the saltwater, feel the sand and sun but most of all, to simply be there, that place which is different and so foreign. To live, even for just a little while, in the unknown can be so eye-opening and the world can take on new meaning. And knowing that for the next year, the world is your oyster, all yours for the making.

However, I also cherish my home and knowing what each day will bring. I guess in the end what I want is to have both worlds (between worlds again). I want to have my home, my income, my security half of the year and then the other half, I want us to have the freedom to travel, to roam, to see the rest of the world, to live without having to plan out tomorrow and the next day and the next. Is this too much to ask for?

Unfortunately, my husband and I haven't figured out how to make this happen for us. In the meantime, I will travel vicariously through the lives of those who are winding their way through the unknown, like Allison and Matthias. Maybe Rick Steves will contact us and ask us to travel the world for his "family vacations through the back door!" Here we are Rick, give us a call! We can be packed up in an hour, I swear! And no, I'm not kidding, give me a call!

Make sure to check out "Travels of the Bay Family and the Yoda Van" here: blogs.bootsnall.com/TheBays. Enter a comment, say hello from wherever you are! They will love it!


Jennifer Lee said...

I know what you mean. Being an ex-pat is really both worlds -- being out and adventuring and not knowing what will happen, while also having your own familiar space. That's why I really do enjoy being an ex-pat, being able to hold onto the familiar things that I need and yet feeling unburdened by so many expectations and pressures.

Corey said...

Jennifer: Yes! You are so right about this. I hadn't thought about how that can automatically create the best of both worlds. In fact, I remember when we got back to the US how sad I felt coming back to the US. It all felt so mundane, so boring, so me, I guess. Actually, those feelings turned into absolutely HATE to be here. I begged R to "take me back to Germany" after we had been here for a few months. I now LOVE Seattle but boy, that first year was tough. I know it probably all has to do with reverse culture shock and all of that but I think it had a lot to do with having truly become a part of another culture, another world, and the specialness and (as you put it) the unknown of it all. Like riding a rollercoaster but knowing that unless the whole thing falls apart, I am fairly secure in my seat.

Thank you so much for your reply. Between your reply getting me thinking and a great recommendation from Jean-Marc Dewaele (Aneta Pavlenko's contribution in JMMD on codeswitching and emotion in parent-child interactions) getting me thinking, I am just spinning with so many ideas, thoughts, considerations and more that I hadn't thought of before. I mean, what really makes me want to raise my children in German? Shouldn't it feel uncomfortable? I have always felt I needed to justify this for some reason since it doesn't fit into the usual "wanting to use native language with own children." And what made me feel so fully comfortable in Germany (ok, not all of the time but much of the time) but not necessarily in Galway, Ireland? Ok, I have a lot to think about now. ;-)

I love, love, love your pieces on Printculture (the one you recommended and your most recent one)!! I need to go back there today and read them through completely... with kids on my lap I didn't make it through them all of the way.

Alice in Austria said...

what a neat and courageous thing to do!!! I'd totally love going on this kind of trip as well. Only I wonder whether I'd have the courage to quit everything for a year. I know some people in my acquaintance who did this, taking off a year to go to Australia, for instance ...

Juliet said...

That would be so much fun to try! Unfortunately, I don't think our l ives would ever allow it. :-(

Corey said...

Juliet and Alice: Yes, I'm with you on that lack of courage part and that not seeming to find a way to do it part. But I'm big on the whole "dream it and you can make it happen" part as well. I guess I just don't know whether things will fall into place for us to do this someday.

The only catch that I find is that there seems to be this innate priority list that comes into place in terms of things I want to make happen in my life. The things at the top are most likely to come to fruition while those at the bottom just don't get the focus they need to actually happen. But maybe one of these days it will, right? :-)

christina said...

That's so cool. My parents also had a VW van when we (I and two younger brothers) were little. As well as doing a lot of camping all over B.C., we once we drove down to California from Vancouver to go to Disneyland. What a wild trip. No car seats (this was the early 70's) and some of us weren't even wearing seatbelts! Eeep. We all survived though and had a wonderful time. Fond memories indeed.

Corey said...

Christina: Yes, that's what I'm talking about! I forgot about the lack of seat belts. Of course! I'm starting to think again about America and the quintessential road trip experience, especially for those of us born in the 60s and 70s (I was born in 1968). I have been contemplating this for a few years now: the influence of the "road trip" on the development of our consciousness and its influence (if any) on our life choices. And is this an American only experience. If not, why is the American consciousness so imbued with it? And not the road trips of necessesity.. not the movement of peoples for financial and social needs. No, I'm thinking the road trip as its own means unto an end.

On a totally separate note... I have found that some of the people I have had the most in common with are those from the Canadian west coast, Vancouver area in particular. By the way, I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in California.