Before we set off in 2013, my husband and I talked about raising independent, global citizens, who are centered and understand the accountability inherent in freedom. What I did not admit at the time was that I still imagined them clinging to my skirts as I trail blazed new landscapes urging them to see the world around each corner.
It is safe to say, they left the comfort of my skirts the second they tasted freedom. Sure, I cook and clean and do their laundry in every port but in each country they have clearly become so much of who they were born to be. Landing back in America has driven that point home in a dramatic way. If anyone is clinging, it is me. My husband and I have been breathless trying to keep up with them trekking between youth hostels in New Zealand, up before dawn to get first tracks in the Italian Alps, and now traversing every angle of our new “village” of Bellingham, Washington.
We picked a college town for all the reasons we wrote about during our time in Salamanca, Spain. Bellingham has a youthful vibrance that has nothing to do with age. Around every corner there are artists, performers, farmers, mom and pop’s, and one stop shops. The coastal Native American tribal legacy provides both heritage and modern perspective to the richness of the experience on this land. Stately homes flank crumbling facades that nod to a layered industrial past that smells of coal, timber, fish and hard work. Steam punk is still a thing but so are burgeoning designers and cutting edge chefs all pushing the boundaries of their craft to our delight. The backdrop of this college town (actually city but feels more like a town) is truly the reason we are here. From Lake Padden to Oyster Dome, Boulevard Park to Bloedel Donovan, we walk, we bike, we chat, we hike. It is possible to ski Mount Baker and kayak in Bellingham Bay in the same day. In less than a half an hour we can be in another country which is akin to harboring a treasure chest in our backyard!
The other reason to settle here for as long as it feels right is because we have family and friends in Washington State and that adds a layer of homecoming that is familiar and comforting. Explorations Academy played a huge role in our long journey back to the Pacific Northwest. The kids were nervous about their decision to enroll leading up the first day of school. We sat huddled together as a family at the back to school picnic feeling tenuous at best. Although everyone was speaking English things felt very foreign. The themes for the curriculum were then unveiled …Origins, Endings, and Borders. We all looked at one another and doubt faded into the background as excitement started to build. Each new day is a beginning and an ending of sorts and the borders between those is not always clear. We are full of appreciation for this daily process of discovery.
Although we are home for now, we are committed and Mindful of The Traveler Within, “The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.” – Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth