October 1-November 1
It’s hard to know how to capture the story of our time in Wenatchee completely enough to summarize it. As expected, it was a whirlwind of happy, fun activity. We spent great quality time with close friends and bumped into acquaintances at the grocery store. We had meals around tables where we’ve sat dozens of times before, and we slept on couches after eating too much sugar and watching too many movies. We went to favorite restaurants and coffee shops, attended live theater performances starring our friends, and took note of all the things about Wenatchee that have changed since we’ve been gone. We were welcomed back to our village with varying responses; everything from “I read every word of your blog,” to “what is it you’ve been doing for the past year?” We interacted with some people who wanted to know about every detail of our life on the road, and others who asked zero questions. When we were asked questions, they very often centered around 2 main inquiries:
1. What have you learned during this year on the road?
2. What does it feel like to be back in Wenatchee?
The answers i gave to these questions varied based on how I was feeling at any given moment, and how late I was to my next social commitment. But these are huge and complicated questions, the answers to which I think I will still be sorting out for years.
On my first day back in Wenatchee, a very wise and wonderful friend asked me, “What are some of the things you’ve learned this year…but before you answer that, do you feel a pressure to have grown or changed?” And the answer to that is definitely YES! So I do wrestle with a desire to come back after a trip around the country with some kind of new insights to share, and I wonder if my desire to impress makes my life lessons less authentic. But on the flip side, when I turned the question around to many people, “What have you learned or how have you grown this year?”…many were at a total loss. So yes, maybe I’ve TRIED really hard to pull lessons out of the last year because of our opportunity to have this adventure. But wouldn’t some motivation to pursue and notice growth in ourselves be good for all of us?
It’s maybe impossible to succinctly express what we’ve learned as individuals or as a family in our 14 months living at various locations in Stumbo. It feels more natural to me at this point to just be aware of the many gifts we’ve received through the experience; immense amounts of quality time with the girls, an enriched marriage, self-confidence that doesn’t come from the roles I play in my community, reconnection with numerous friends and family members, the feeling of freedom that comes from living life in an unusual & intentional way…just to name a few. I have realized many of these gifts through talking about our experiences with friends around dinner tables this month. I’ve been trying to frame these experiences as gifts and foster an attitude of gratefulness, instead of feeling too burdened by specific lessons learned or accomplishments, although there have been some of those as well.
And as far as the experience of being back in Wenatchee…I don’t know. Maybe it’s too soon to have the experience figured out. But I would say it didn’t totally feel like home, but it also didn’t NOT feel like home.
This image came to me the other night – that the first time we drove away from Wenatchee in August 2016, leaving our community felt a little bit like uncorking a bottle of wine. It was slow, careful, painful; there was some prying that had to be done. Coming back to Wenatchee kinda felt like putting the cork back into that bottle of wine. We still fit, but it’s just different.
And as we drove away from the same campground this morning, we didn’t have the knocking-knees of beginners; we had 14 months of experience under our belt. We didn’t have 4 weeks worth of campground reservations; our destination was an rest area on I-5 in Oregon and beyond that was TBD. Leaving the Wenatchee Valley this time kinda felt like grabbing that crooked wine cork with the palm of my hand and simply wriggling it free.