How do I say this?
I’ve been staring at the screen a good few minutes looking for a word that hasn’t been coming.
I started to write, “It’s good to be back ‘home’.” But we’ve been full-timing long enough that I can’t say that. ‘Home’ is our coach; it’s where we are most relaxed. We’re most comfortable there/here — it’s the right size for us, it fits us like a shoe, we’re embraced by it’s coziness and we spend the most time here. “Home” exists without traffic jams and without politics.
“You lose sight of things…
and when you travel, everything balances out.”
– Daranna Fidel
Should I say, instead, that it feels good to be in ‘familiar surroundings’? Somehow that isn’t what I really mean, and each year when we return familiar isn’t quite as familiar as once it was.
So many changes! In the last three years the interstate system has been partially revamped; our daughter and SIL have remodeled an old factory; many of the things we have known simply are no more. Three years ago when we first returned to Milwaukee as returning RV’ers the Milwaukee we knew was no longer ‘home.’ Our coach had already become home — that comfortable place that stays where we are. But Milwaukee still felt sort of comfortable.
Each year when we return (and this year we will have been here twice — once in March for medical reasons) it’s less familiar and perhaps a little less comfortable. We can’t just hop in the car and instinctively know where we’re going. We have to stop and think about how to get there, and just where it is that we really need to go. Yet, we will eat foods we haven’t had access to most of the year (sometimes because we didn’t know they were available, but other times because the ethnic background of the populace didn’t include what we wanted). We’ll shop at stores that we know used to carry the kinds of products we want. Sometimes we’re surprised that has changed, but most of the time our memories are rewarded. This game we play as full timers learning at each new location where we can get what we want can be exhausting at times. Milwaukee is familiar, but the only thing that doesn’t change is change and this city is in the midst of huge change.
We tend to visit during the nicest times of year. We keep ourselves in our temperature comfort zone. Perhaps it’s an illusion of comfort and the reality is that we’re just here during the warm weather and we can forgive almost anything. We have always spent a lot of time walking — getting out in the air — and as you know I like the fresh air— especially near the lakefront. Veterans Park, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, The South Shore Yacht Club (not that we were members) and Grant Park, those are our old stomping grounds. I’m sure we’ll visit them this year too.
We love these places because people congregate there: they walk and bike and skateboard and rollerblade; they play music and fly kites. We know the area enough that we know there will always be those people in those places. In other cities and other states the people may be in similar places but we don’t yet know they’ll be there — or even where those places might be.
The massive roadway reconstruction seems not nearly so bad because the people are a constant — even when they are different people: they are doing the same things. That is part of the difficulty of RV’ing-to-find-a-new-home. The people are different and the ‘things’ they do are different. If you look around long enough you’ll find some intersections — for example, people always like to be by the water. There are always people who love to be seen — and who make that exhibitionist out of themselves so BE seen. But our goal isn’t necessarily to find a place like Milwaukee. It was originally to find a place that is comfortable. Milwaukee already exists; there’s no sense in going to look for another — if that is what we want why not stay here? It is what it is because of the weather, the population, the economic base, and the traditions. And that why not is a really good question.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
We’re comfortable here, but our search continues. Is there another place that we might like just as much? Or enough to set down roots? So far we haven’t found it. But we’re still looking.
Perhaps that’s the real lesson from our travels. Like Bill Bryson said, travel keeps you worked up so that you are forever incapable of taking things for granted. I have been commenting recently about our Norcold refrigerator — just about the time life gets to be ‘regular’ something happens — like that refrigerator — to keep things mixed up and uncertain. To RV is to learn to love being vulnerable to life’s uncertainties. If you can’t love surprises this isn’t the life for you.
On the surface we make our annual return for regular physicals. But returning to Milwaukee also serves to remind us what we left behind. I guess you could say it’s a way of anchoring ourselves. Family, familiarity, comfort. Every place where we have RV’d we have been comfortable. If we weren’t happy/comfortable then we moved on. We might have found some familiarity had we stayed long enough. But the locale didn’t speak strongly enough to us to want to do so. Family would not find in new places — though we could make friends! In this world of great mobility many folks have made their friends into their family. But with a wonderful family that we have we’ll never replace that.
It’s most likely that when we tire of travel we’ll simply return to Milwaukee where we have all three. (if they don’t change too much) For now, we have a month on the ground with family and friends. We’ll get some projects done — the new satellite receiver’s in Milwaukee waiting for us. The Thermistor is to arrive Thursday afternoon/evening. Either we’ll get the fridge running right or we’ll replace it. We have a family member to visit, a couple rv parks to scout out — we have our hands full — in a good, retirement sort of way. And when we’re done, we’ll move on.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.