|A group of colorful bike racks in a Carbondale, Colorado city parking lot.|
I’m back in Oregon this week. I don’t just mean back from vacation, I mean as of this week, I’m really here, back from Italy too. This is the first week where the reality of our situation – living here permanently again – has really sunk in. A few people have mentioned to me that things seem to be going pretty well with our return. It’s true, they have been going surprisingly well. The adjustment has been much easier than anticipated in many ways. But I don’t think it was until this week that “reality” hit.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed this week:
Travel. For the first time in two and a half years, I don’t have a vacation coming up in the next couple of months. No visits to new countries on the horizon, no next trip in the works. Just a stretch of several months with no vacation time left at work and no firm plans yet for future travel. It is odd. I found myself hurrying at work to get something done before I left for… nowhere. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I’ve gotten used to working to that next deadline of time off. Even moving back, I had three weeks here and then we left again to visit Colorado. It’s not bad, it’s just different and something I need to get used to. This reminds me I need to get some plans on the calendar, if only for some weekend excursions. I love to travel too much!
Transport. We are down to one vehicle, living in a place where we’ve always had two. When we moved to Italy, we sold our car and had a friend keep our truck. We had always planned on buying another car when we returned, but several months ago I started wondering if we needed to. We had been living in Italy with one car, I could ride my bike to work (I used to commute by bike all the time), and our town is small enough to easily get around. Between bike, bus and scooter I figured we could get by. After returning home from Italy, we had a rental car for several weeks, which was returned the day before we left for Colorado. This week is the first week we are truly living with one vehicle. It’s a different feeling to bike to work because I have to rather than because I want to. It’s different to ask if a friend can drive because I don’t have a car. Not bad, just a little uncomfortable at the moment. Not to mention that I have discovered that my body is not in the best shape to go from riding zero miles to 60 miles (6 mile commute each way) in a week. I couldn’t quite make it through the week, I caught a ride on Wednesday to give my legs a break.
Finances. We’ve gone from a completely unique financial mindset in Italy (two years = no regrets), to a temporary mindset moving home (get our lives set up ASAP), to me starting a part time schedule next week. Back to reality, and getting ourselves on a long-term budget once again. We didn’t go hog-wild while on our assignment, but the “no regrets” mentality did change our handling of money. That can’t stay in place forever without serious consequences. I tend toward being financially conservative so my budget-minded, practical side keeps me in line, but my impulsive, emotional side is feeling the tension of restraint. Working part time is nothing new and living on a budget is nothing new… It’s just like the bike though, we’re out of shape and it’s a little uncomfortable at the moment.
So there you have it in a nutsell: Reality has set in. When first moving back, it was all about the physical changes that come with location. Now I’m feeling real changes that make me internally uncomfortable. I know I’ll get used to this new reality, but that doesn’t eliminate the discomfort of changing habits. It only makes it manageable.