Photo: Sokolov Olleg/Shutterstock

How to Know When You're NOT Ready to Pack Up & Go?

by Leigh Shulman May 31, 2010
It’s easy. Ask yourself these two simple questions.

I’m supposed to be writing an article about the different ways in which we measure ourselves, but I can’t concentrate because somewhere in the yard behind me I can hear Lila screaming at the dog.

Sometimes she laughs, which makes me smile, but it inevitably rises into a whiny crescendo. When the pitch reaches a particular note, I know without a doubt that soon the dog will nip, scratch or do something to otherwise offend her, and it will all end in tears.

Yep, there we go. She’s crying. This time, because he’s destroyed the intricate pillow fort she’d constructed for him. Instead of doing just what she required of him, he’s broken free, grabbed the leg of her pants and is now pulling hard. The two are twirling around in circles.

Sick-of-homeness arises from too much connection, and grabs me when I’m most frustrated.

I figure I’ve given her plenty of instruction on how to stop this little game, and there’s not much more I can do to help. So I sit here typing away, taking occasional sips of my tea and cringing between Lila’s shrieks, the dog barking, and hearing Noah intervene with “No, no biting. No biting.”

Excuse me a second. I have to deal with this.

Ok, five minutes later, and I’m back. The dog has been completely riled up, and I’ve just been accused by Lila of liking the dog better.

Am I the only one who wants to run away from home?

You know the feeling.

When all the things we now possess or maintain, when the weight of all the fragments of home life suddenly take on the density of star matter. Car payments, floor to clean, alarm to wake us up at 6:30 am which we then snooze because it’s winter, but you have to get up to feed the dog. They pull us in, and down, and hold us tight to suffocation.

It’s the flip side of homesickness: sick-of-homeness, if you will.

Homesickness often hits when you least expect it. At the supermarket when you realize there’s no peanut butter or maple syrup, or when you’re tired and haven’t seen a comfortable bed in weeks. It’s disconnection.

Sick-of-homeness arises from too much connection and grabs me when I’m most frustrated. It hits hardest on weeks like this one. Lila’s been sick, and we’ve barely left the house in seven long, repetitive days.

Friday passes into Monday which becomes April, May, soon-to-be June, and the only thing marking the difference is my weekly Tuesday morning Skype call with an education consultant in New Jersey, and Lila’s Friday afternoon horse riding lessons.

Daily life requires so much tedious maintenance, and i feel trapped. Washing dishes, putting away clothes, organizing… only to realize a couple of weeks later that it’s all a mess again and needs to be reorganized. It makes me want to divest ourselves of those new dishes – already chipping after six months of use – pack a couple of small bags and get back on the road.

I begin to devise my escape, but is breaking free what I really want right now?

How To Know When It’s Time To Go

It’s actually quite simple. Ask yourself the following two questions:

If my reasons for either staying or leaving lie only in the things I want to escape, then I have more work to do before making a choice. If fear guides me toward my decisions, it’s time to find another motivator.

As you evaluate the different parts of your life one by one, you’ll find each fits into one of these two categories.

Try it. Family. Friends. Career. Pet. Significant other. Volunteer work. Favorite pizza place. Access to clean water. Exhaustion. Frustration. Sublime happiness. Great biking trails. Clean air. Horses. Backyard. Children. Access to education.

As I assess the parts of my life here in Salta, I ask myself if there is truly something here for me, right now.

It’s taken over a year to find and settle in a new house. We have a dog. Lila loves her school – which is fabulous – and she has lots of friends. I’ve started teaching again, working with a group of children in a place where I’m able to make a real difference in their lives and in mine as well.

And I love Argentina. It’s a unique country with so much to explore and so many people to meet.

The frustrations of the day will pass, just as they would resurface were I to settle elsewhere or turn full-time nomadic again. Leaving my current home would mean abandoning the promise it holds, leaving questions unanswered and projects undone.

I am not afraid of departure, but I will regret that which I leave incomplete.

Eventually, I will move on. When? I have no idea. It could be a year or three years or more. But right now, my place is where I am, even with that damn barking dog and all those other ordinary everyday joys.

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