Thursday, August 21, 2014

Everywhere and Back Again

I am officially back. Not just at home, but BACK: showing up for this life, in which I am many things--sensitive and smart and mentally ill and also brave.

Summer in north Florida doesn't actually end until mid-October. But down here, everyone goes back to school in mid-August. Because what else is there to do, really, in this heat? So as of this week, my summer is officially over. And it was a big one.
Japan, 2001

Summer 2014 was my most ambitious since Summer 2001, in which my long-distance boyfriend (now husband) and I graduated from our respective colleges, toured Asia for five weeks, and then moved to Maine together, with no jobs. It was awesome and also awful. All of these crazy transitions kicked my anxiety and sensory issues into high gear, and at the time we didn't understand the symptoms or know what to do about it.

This summer I was on the road for around five weeks, spread between five different trips. The biggest adventure was 10 days in South America (Colombia), immersed in one of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. It was my first international trip in eight years (Cancun doesn't count), and our first with the kids. The kids also came with me on a roadtrip to North Carolina, and we closed out the summer with beach and family time in southern NJ.
Colombia, 2014

So how did we do, with all this travel and stress and excitement? Overall: pretty damn good.

The kids were interested and excited and generally flexible. They managed to eat and sleep well in many different settings. I kept up with exercise and took my meds and napped and went to bed early. I practiced telling friends and travel companions what I needed to stay sane, even when it seemed lame. On the road trip I was able to bring my weighted blanked ("heavy blankie"), 15 pounds of awesome that helps me feel calm and sleep better. My stress-related ailments were limited to a brief emotional breakdown, a round of cold sores and some extra hair loss.

Yes, okay, my body is calling "time out" on travel. But it was all very worth it. We came home physically weary but deeply refreshed.

The whole thing was a victory, really. A triumph over the previous six months of physical and emotional pain. And though it is hot as hell here, I can still feel the cool breezes of the Andes, the evening chill in my parents' backyard, and the salty cold of the shore.