Dear Travel Mates,
We just spent a month in Arizona, and since I tend to write these posts only after we’ve left a place and I gain some perspective, you’re only hearing about it now.
Staying put after 4 months of moving around was a huge shift for us. But human nature craves routine, and within a week it was as if we’d lived there for years- misplaced throw pillows, workbooks strewn on the tables, stocked fridge, and all.
And once it was time to leave, I realized what the Best Place is. More on that at the end.
But first, here’s how we settled into our suburban Arizona life:
- We spent a lot of time outside
One of our goals when setting out on this trip was to be somewhere warm for the brutal month every New Yorker dreads – February. Arizona delivered. Yes, we were disappointed the pool wasn’t heated, but apparently most of them aren’t. It isn’t worth the huge expense for just one month of “winter.” But gazing at a body of water was calming nonetheless.
- We baked cookies
Actually, the kids learned how to do it on their own. And I didn’t complain when they ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They made their own meals right? That gets an A in this teacher’s book.
- I played more basketball than any mama should
With more time to scrutinize the kids’ school schedule, I came to a realization. Call me Columbus, but I “discovered” that the kids need a true, outdoor, active recess in the MIDDLE of the day, not at the end of it. But that meant it fell on me to do it instead of my husband who usually takes them at the end of the day. As it turns out, I’m no LeBron, but I’ve got height going for me.
- I Dove into work
For the last 4 month I’ve been keeping my business afloat, doing classes from all kinds of crazy locations and connecting with my audience when I can. But this pause gave me a minute to assess the colossal shift that my business has taken from being an in-person service to completely online. During this month, I went from wanting to throw in the towel to jumping head first back into that non-heated pool. #Entrepreneurlife.
- We bought stuff
Nail clippers, hiking boots, face cleanser, Machi Koro (we love this game,) books, clothes that fit. It felt like Hanuka all over again. Minimalism is quite satisfying. But so is having the world at your fingertips.
- I made soups
Winter calls for soup, even in 70 degree weather. But cooking and baking are not conducive to traveling. There’s no car space next to the sanitizer, hats, and guitar for baking soda, bay leaves, nutmeg and coconut milk, so I went soup happy. My faves were this broccoli soup, and this wild rice mushroom soup.
- I had a night on my own!
Yup. You heard me. My husband actually took the kids to Tucson for A WHOLE NIGHT and I had the house to myself. And the craziest part? I was considering not going. Huh?
After spending most of the year with my family NON STOP I had a hard time separating. I actually cried a little! This is the mama who used to snatch every minute of alone time I could.
My attachment issues lasted for an hour and then I got into it. I wrote a song, got a massage, talked to friends, read a book, watched TV. But the first thing I did was clean the house and do laundry. Moms will be moms.
- We went on a couple dates
My husband and I haven’t left each other’s side for 11 months. And yet, I had no idea that his team at work was dismantling, and he had no idea that I had instated the crucial recess and have a plan for next year brewing. We needed to sit face to face over whine-free nachos to truly reconnect. Luckily, my eldest is our babysitter now.
- We got hair cuts
We really needed them. Especially this kid.
As our time in Arizona came to a close I wondered if we still had it in us to do our roadie routine – the packing, unpacking, adjusting, driving. It’s amazing how cemented in our routine and location we felt after one month. But by the time we piled into the van and our old friend Williie Nelson crooned “On the road again,” I was excited to move on.
Traveling reminds me of how I felt when the kids were babies. They changed so rapidly, each day showing more personality and independence. At every stage I remember saying to myself – “THIS is the best stage. I hope it stays this way for a while.” And then everything changed and the baby grew, and I said the same thing all over again. “Oh THIS is the best stage. I hope it stays this way for a while.”
I didn’t want to leave Arizona. We were all so comfortable there. But then we got in the car and I wanted to keep driving. And then we got to Palm Springs where we stayed for a few nights and I wanted to keep playing tennis with the kids at the hotel courts.
Adjusting to new homes is not a simple thing. We walk into a place and immediately need to reimagine our lives and lifestyle. We have to find new places to work, the kids need to plop down on a new couch, we have to reconfigure sleeping arrangements, orient ourselves to a new hood. And the kitchens – the make or break of a place. Do they have decent pots? Can the knives cut through more than a bagel? Is there be a roasting pan? Does the coffee maker work? And the mother of amenitities – does this place have a smoothie blender?
But so far this trip has taught us that it doesn’t take long for us to make a place our home. Not only that, things that make our heart drop as we walk in the door might even become something we love about the space. For instance that frigid pool in Arizona. It eventually became my David Hockney lake and I was sad to leave it.
So which is the best place? It’s like my grandma used to say when we asked which grandchild she loves the most “Whichever one I’m looking at”.