Twice in about 10 days I misplaced items of perceived value. One item was Nicholas’ bum bag with his DS and some games in it. The other item was the keys to my car in the US and my house in Australia. Both times I started to panic a little. With the first item, we were getting ready for our trip back east and I thought Nic would enjoy using his DS along the way. I searched for about an hour, with my energy tense, affecting the rest of the family who were trying to enjoy getting ready to go. When I finally just let go of having to find it…when I realised that if it was gone, we were still quite ok, and if someone else had found it, I hope that they enjoyed it…when I no longer felt any attachment to it…I decided to check the car one last time and, as if I was guided, found the bag right away.
With my keys - I was with the kids down on “the strip”. We had walked a long way and, together with the heat and the noise and the crowds, we did not feel like walking back to the car. So we caught the bus. When we sat down on the bus, I went to get my keys out of the backpack so that we could go straight to the car and get out of there. I could not find them. I have a little bell on my keys so that I can always find them by the jingle jangle sound. I searched every pocket. I started to panic and felt sick thinking about the inconvenience and cost and how long it might take standing in the heat waiting for a locksmith (it was the only key to the car - I couldn’t even call Cary to come and help us). Then the thought of how we would get into our house in Australia after traveling for 24 hours was not appealing either. I thought about backtracking to try and find the keys, but we had been to so many places and were frankly quite ‘done’. The backpack had been opened so many times to get water and snacks out, that the keys could have been in Venice, Paris, New York, (even though these were casinos, they could have well been in those actual places), or several other casinos or on the sidewalk along the way. Going back was quickly ruled out. In the space of about 4 minutes, I was able to turn myself around from feel sick, to feeling capable of dealing with whatever I had to. Again, I let go of my attachment to having to have the keys. And then again, I was guided to exactly where they had fallen down the back of the pack (I was sure I had checked there though!)
These were great lessons for me in non-attachment and also in mindfulness and staying aware. I think they helped me to prepare for the next level of detaching - leaving the USA. A place I used to live, but where I knew I was just a visitor this time. Quite an odd feeling. Will we be back? I don’t know. If so, I don’t know when or for how long and if we’d be living there or just visiting again.
We went to the USA with two suitcases and two carry-on bags, and returned with four suitcases, three smaller bags, and four carry-on bags. It took me a long time to pack it and then I looked at it and wondered what the heck was in there? It seemed excessive. We had acquired some extra clothes and shoes, and I bought things for the kids to use while we were here - books, toys, pencils and paper and colouring books, DVD’s, DS games etc. Not knowing if we were going back to the USA, we took most of it with us. And I also bought a few things for the house that are cheaper in the US - sheets and towel and some kitchen items. But for someone who loves simplicity, traveling with all of those bags did not feel simple.
Cary helped us check in at Las Vegas. Some of the bags were overweight so we reshuffled some stuff and he took some things back to the car to bring over when he comes. We had to collect all of our luggage in LA and take it to another terminal to check in for the international leg. I paid an airport worker to help me with that. It felt really strange to be leaving. Exciting and sad with a lot of uncertainty ahead. Constantly reminding myself to stay present and aware of each moment. Allowing myself to feel each emotion and explore it.
We all got a little bit of sleep on the plane ride over the Pacific Ocean and arrived in Brisbane to a crisp winter morning. I was told that the daytime temps lately have been in the mid to high 20’s C (82 F) . Lovely! We cleared immigration, got our bags easily (although Summer was having a huge meltdown after spending most of the flight watching movies and fighting sleep), and went through customs with no problem. We then caught a train to the Gold Coast and a maxi taxi to our house. The kids all fell asleep on the train and when I woke Nicholas to get off, he started screaming and crying, which he did not stop until we got to our house. It was nice to walk into our place but I was aware of a totally detached feeling. I opened up all of the windows to get some fresh air through the place - the air smelled so good! We checked our garden and I started a mental list of things to do out there.
Our cupboards were almost bare so the next thing to do was to get some food. Only the car wouldn’t start so I called the RACQ from a neighbours house as my cell phone was flat and had no credits anyway. (We don’t have a landline.) Got the car going and then took it for a run on the motorway for almost an hour to charge it up well. Got petrol and groceries and credit for the phone…but the phone doesn’t seem to be working yet. A little unpacking and an early night finished the day. We were going to go for a walk to the beach, but Summer fell asleep about 3pm and didn’t wake up until the next morning.
The kids, and I, all had moments of delight and surprise as we rediscovered things we had here that we had totally forgotten about. But if we had never come back to this house, they would have remained forgotten and that would have been ok too. When I left here 12 weeks ago, I felt attachment to this ‘stuff’. Traveling reminded me that it is not the things we have, it is Who We Are that is important. And in any moment, it is our connection to ourselves and others that is the only thing that matters.
I know that the kids will enjoy playing with the things they brought back with them from the USA, and it will help them to remember the time we had there.
Summer was very emotional yesterday after we returned. She enjoyed being able to have her own room again, but was overwhelmed by the things she has in there. She was crying and saying that she doesn’t know where “home” is, where she belongs. She has spent most of her life living in the USA, and three months there was long enough to feel like we were putting down roots there again. If it had just been one month, it would have felt like a vacation the whole time. We had time to visit with friends quite a bit and to connect, but then to leave was hard. She and I talked about this and I validated all her feelings. Then we spoke about not where we are, but WHO we are, and if we can be truly comfortable with that, then we will feel at home anywhere. Sure there are places we feel a stronger connection to something greater than us, but when we feel comfortable within ourselves, we can feel comfortable in any situation.
I looked around at the 'things' in this house and knew that any attachment I had felt, I no longer did. I had thought that I was ready to settle down, but now I'm thinking that I'm ready to keep traveling. Wherever I go though, I know I'll be Home.