I’m 38 years old and single. Although there’s nothing super interesting about that statement, I suppose I make mention of it because I feel like I’ve always been a little behind the eight-ball in the typical “where I’m supposed to be” in life concept. For example, I didn’t find the career I love until I turned 30, and only about two years ago I bought my very first home. Owning a home was something I dreamed of doing for years. Although living with my mom was comforting and easy, I dreamed of having a place of my own. A place where I could have friends over and laugh around the campfire. I looked forward to cooking amazing dinners, decorating the way I wanted, and finally feeling settled like most of my friends. Plus, I needed a place to finally unload the many bins and boxes of travel trinkets & treasures I had collected for nearly 15 years of traveling the world.
Those who know me know I took on quite the feat when I bought my house. My stubborn streak made me look at a fixer-upper and think that I could do it all myself. Weeks and weeks of tearing up carpet, removing wallpaper, scrubbing tiles, pulling weeds, laying flooring, painting, staining, and more painting. In the end, it was all worth it. I finally had living room shelves that I could begin to fill. When it came time to open the bins marked “Erin’s travel stuff” it was like a time machine was whisking me back in time. Every time I unrolled some faded newspaper, I uncovered a precious treasure. Holding each item in my hand, feeling the fabric or the stone… it immediately put me somewhere around the world. I would close my eyes, smile and remember a memory, or shake my head remembering a particularly futile haggling experience at a market with a man or woman who could see in my eyes I was leaving with that item, even if I had to pay a few extra Euros, Bhat, Sol or Pesos.
I set my Chinese fan, my Thai wood carving, my Tanzanian batik and my Australian boomerang on my shelves with care. When the boxes were empty, I stood back and then immediately needed to sit down. All I could think was, Oh god. What have I done? I set down roots here in this tiny suburb… but my spirit still yearned to fly. To be fair, I knew that buying a fixer-upper house would put a damper on my international travel plans for a few years…. but I didn’t expect the surge of panic I had that night. I wish I could say that I immediately bought a plane ticket and planned an international trip- but I didn’t. I had promised myself to be more responsible than that. Plus, what did I have to be panicky about? In 15 years I had traveled to 35 countries on 6 continents. I had jumped out of planes, rafted down stunning gorges, hiked up glaciers, eaten strange food, pet tigers, camped under the stars, and partied under a full moon coated with neon body paint. I had done and seen more in 15 years than some do in a lifetime. But, I panicked. Was it all coming to an end?
Of course not. I suppose I wouldn’t be starting this blog if that were true. It was true that I needed a little time to settle in, learn the ropes of home ownership. And here I am, nearly 2 years later with tickets in hand for a 7 week summer adventure that will include more stamps in my passport and a collection of new moments to remember. In hindsight, buying my house was like stepping off a train platform in a foreign country for the first time. Instead of a backpack, I had a tool belt. Instead of a Eurorail pass, I had a Home Depot credit card. Instead of partying on the beach in Thailand, I sat laughing around the fire pit in my yard with people I love. I’ve come to realize that buying a house is just a different adventure with different memories to collect. Having a place of my own to come back to after weeks of travel will be new… but I finally realized that there’s no need to panic….I can have both roots and wings.