I am adjusting to life at home again. After my trip to Hawaii I am home without work for two months. My first few days have been bewildering, not because things have changed but because they have not. The same issues and difficulties I had before leaving still remain, the routines, both good and bad are exactly the same. It seems from my perspective that so much has happened and I have lived so much, yet at home it has been stasis.
I should be comforted that in my abscence my wife kept things running so well and without disruption, but instead I am put off and feeling uncomfortable. Not that I am displeased or ungrateful, to the contrary am very happy, just...as I said bewildered. I feel this way whenever I return home, but ususally I am only gone for less than a week, this time it was nearly a month and it strikes me harder when that happens. I think it is because I have changed. On the road my life is a flurry of work accompanied by recreation and pleasure. At home everything is slower, I have many chores but they are not loming things with pressure and deadlines. Likewise there are pleasures and recreation, but they are the mild and quiet sort that one enjoys with the family not the wild and loud things that one enjoys with friends, when the responsibilities of home are set aside.
When traveling it seems that the only stability I have sometimes is McDonalds. That is a never ending constant. Sure it varies a little here and there. In Anchorage for example they serve Big Macs with quarter pounder patties and call them McKinley Macs, In Honolulu you can get Spam and Saimin noodles, but for the most part they are much the same and I take comfort in that. Not that I go there often, in fact I try my best to avoid it, but still when I go it makes me feel somehow grounded.
At home everything is stable, which is not always a good thing, my wife does a good job of maintaining things in my abscence, but not at fixing things. It is as if all of the troubles wait for me to return and solve them, or not depending on the troubles and my ability.
This time is a particularly intense transition. I have gone from, living in the tropics where the sun is shining, the ocean is warm, happy hour starts at eleven in the morning and the nightclubs don't close until four AM. I have returned to cold and rain, broken cars, and bills that need paying. Away the company takes care of my lodging,transportation, meals, and even some of my recreation. At home it is up to me to care for all of this.
I am not saying I am unhappy to be home, I missed my family and have had pure joy, playing with the kids, taking them trick or treating, attending their parent teacher conferences this morning, and just being a family man again. It is not unhappiness that troubles me it is adjustment. It is approaching eleven o clock right now and part of me is thinking about calling friends and going for lunch and cocktails. Of course I am not. I am instead taking a moment to blog, in between paying bills online, repairing my wifes van and taking my daughter to ballet and my son to wrestling. This is all to the good but very strange feeling. After Christmas, unless I am called to other work I will be back on the road, first to Seattle then all around. There is even talk I may join some friends working in Minnesota though I have not yet been asked to. When that happens I will go through this same adjustment in reverse, I will be just as bewildered, and I will be feeling that empty ache when I am not driving the kids to activities and helping with the household chores.
It is my hope as it is every year that I will soon be able to take the family travelling and share these experiences with them first hand, rather than through phone calls, stories and photos. Unfortunately my life currently suffers from the familiar old dillema of either having the time but not the money, or the money and not the time. I do try though and one of these days I will find myself ahead of the game, and we will once again enjoy a true family vacation. For now though, we have the pleasures of hearth and home, Thanksgiving is around the corner then Christmas. There are to be dance recitals, concerts, school carnivals, and wrestling meets. All things that, mundane as they are, I love far more than exotic locals and wild nightlife. At heart I am a family man and it is the family which calls and fulfills me, yet it is if my life is schitzophrenic and it is always difficult to transition between the two versions of me.
Doug French reviews ‘Testament of James’
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