Blog Series: Returning Home and Family

“How does it feel to return home?” After traveling in Latin America on our motorcycles for nearly two years, my husband and I hear some version of that question often. Appreciating that we’re still in the homecoming process, I’m going to take a crack at describing what it looks like and how it feels in this blog series exploring my relationships, house, and work.

This is the first post in a blog series about returning home and relationships.

The Case Family

Missing my family and friends was the #1 challenge during the trip. I was anxious to reconnect with everyone as quickly as possible! I yearned for those genuine conversations with another human being who knew me, rather than the strangers we met along the way (even though they were amazing people!). Knowing a bit of a person’s history, brings a sense of connection that’s missing from the passing curiosity of meeting a new person. When we know each other, we can appreciate the meaning behind the stories we share, like reading an ongoing book rather than starting over at chapter one. I liked meeting new people, don’t get me wrong but I was out of whack. My life was 100% meeting new people and 0% being with people I know, like, or love. I felt a sense of frantic, desperateness for real connection with my peeps.

The trickiest factor in coordinating get-togethers was that we didn’t have a home base or a set schedule. After arriving in LA with our motorcycles on February 23rd, we bounced around until moving into a home of our own just before the 4th of July. (I’ll talk more about that in the “house” part of this series.)

Reconnecting with Family

Visiting both our families was awesome and strange. We kind of didn’t know what to do with each other. My mom and I saw each other for the first time when she picked me up at the Boise airport. Our eyes met, I noticed an odd look in her eye. There was a bit of an awkward pause then she said something like, “It’s so strange to see you in person!” We went through some version of that experience in nearly every reconnection scenario.

We gathered for family dinners and did out best to catch-up on the seemingly little things that went unsaid in the months of online conversations. It felt like our epic adventure was an elephant in the room. Keith and I didn’t know how to talk about our trip, hadn’t condensed the photos enough to share. Our families didn’t know where to begin with questions. They had mostly seen our Facebook posts and read our blogs so they didn’t know what they didn’t know. That’s not the scenario I expected.

The Matteson Family

In my coming home fantasy, I dreamed of juicy, long conversations snuggled in a warm, comfortable, living room with the familiar smells of my families’ homes. We’d have a cup of morning coffee or a glass of evening red wine and seriously catch up on everything that we didn’t feel compelled to say online. The reality was that most of them didn’t have time for this kind of connection. They had lives to live, jobs to do, routines to tend to, kids to run around. Our love for each other is absolutely not in question. Scheduling was the tricky part.

The other expectation I brought to these family gatherings was my new belief in Latin American style family values. I’ll give you of sense of what I mean. We stayed in an Airbnb in Quito, Ecuador with Felipe & Mila for a month. At first, we were complete strangers, but they quickly introduced us to their friends at a local restaurant, and invited us up for meals. We soon met both of their parents over dinner and drinks. One Saturday we were welcomed into the larger family. They invited us to go along to a family gathering at property owned Mila’s family, out in the country. I learned that they do this regularly, at least once a month. Plus, Felipe has lunch with his parents a couple times a week, and they live next door to Mila’s parents. I was surprised to hear they spent so much time with family. I admired them. They had real relationships with their families. I could feel their comfort with each other. They didn’t wait for holidays to get together, being with family was an everyday part of their lives.

I dreamed of having that kind of relationship with our families when we returned home. I count Keith and I fortunate to have such kind, loving, supportive families and, I want more of them. Yes, I appreciate that they didn’t have my Latin American family values transformation but I still want more of them!

In the spirit of learning,

Jalene

P.S. I'm happy to share that the coaching aspect of my business is growing. If you, or someone you know, would like support in crossing the gap from where you are now in life to where you want to be, I'd love to help. Let's schedule a complimentary session and talk about it.