Coming Back…Still living out of suitcases


Yes, we are back. It is a strange sensation really to be here and at the same point so very normal. We are altered and changed in ways we know and have yet to discover. We came home to an empty home, our master closet covered in cat pee, roots growing into our septic line that needed to be replaced, and more and more and more.

Somehow, I flowed with it all last week. I paused many moments in every day to reflect, look around or rest in the chaos. As the inevitability of living in the guest house with all our stuff for several weeks turned into a reality, we did our best to make it an adventure, just another one along the path of others we’ve walked before. I was feeling somehow incomplete that our trip was only 11+ months rather than the well rounded year, but now, I think we’ll be doing great if our lives are more or less settled by the time we pass the year mark.

We are still living out of suitcases!

We’re making it work. Yesterday, after no longer being able to take it, I broke out the cleaning supplies and went to town on the kitchenette and the bathroom back here hoping to make it all just a little more tolerable and a little less India-like. But who am I kidding! In India we had daily housekeeping that came with the apartment we rented so cleanliness was not an issue…here however, it just needed some strong elbow grease and with no housekeeper in sight, I tackled it myself!

Last week was actually pretty easy, especially all things considering. All around it was mayhem, dust, boxes and very very little space. Every day experienced appointments with workers helping to make the transformation from house to home. In the end, we got the kitchen unpacked and readjusted in the new more efficient way (glasses in a different cupboard!) and relocated to the guest house.

While we were traveling, we envisioned having a pool party this past weekend, thinking 5-6 days of being home and we’d be more or less ready to both host and receive our friends en mass. How wrong were we! The house is hardly ready, but perhaps it is just the outer manifestation of what’s going on inside. Perhaps it is the chaos of the physical that can allow the mystical inner change to do what it needs to do.

We almost went to a festival type thing happening in Topanga last Saturday night. It sounded fun in one way, local youth bands playing a concert for local youth and parents in a way that happens seamlessly in Topanga. What’s not to like about that type of event, especially with a teen now in the family?

In all frankness, nothing was to like about that for me. It actually, once here, the idea of that sounded like a unique type of hell. I couldn’t imagine mingling socially, not yet. Don’t get me wrong, I love people, but I haven’t really had to be engaged with friends and acquaintances for a year. My “Social I” got a long well-needed rest. That part of me is not my favorite part of Self anyway. Too easily it can become hard or fixated, in Buddhist terms, “reified.” If I were to go back into a social situation so quickly upon my return what would happen to that softened un-reified I’ve so enjoyed getting to know within myself?

Instead, I’ve been testing her out slowly, tenderly, acknowledging her newly formed skin. The biggest test was going to my family of origin exactly a week after our return. Perhaps because only 2 of my 7 siblings were there, I managed well. The overwhelming energy of the Bushnell Clan might have been my undoing, but instead I flowed, even expressed myself and my needs clearly when the opportunity arose to do so.

Even car shopping worked well enough. The details of that exploration is a blog in itself to come later! Suffice it to say, I went to 16 dealers in 3 days (10 of those on one day!). Finally, I gave up on the car idea, realizing that expecting myself to know which car is right for ME when I’m not sure who ME is, is a bit ridiculous! I’m borrowing for now and if I have to when my friend return wanting their car back, I’ll rent. Why build the idea up that it needed to be tackled to drive carpool. Seriously, we’ve only rented cars all year and it’s been great, easy and not a lot more expensive than buying/leasing when you break it all out.

All that said, the wave that I had been riding from the emotionally lovely arrival at LAX through this weekend that made it all seem like just another fun adventure…well, that wave started to go back out to sea and I was left wondering if I would have to tread water while waiting for another wave or if I might find myself a surfboard so that I could hang, in water-meditation-style, for the next wave.

As it became obvious that the fluid-joy-filled-everything-is-so-awesome wave headed out to sea my surfboard needed to be made from deep self-care. I noticed that I hadn’t blogged or even journaled once since being back and the only time I stepped on my yoga mat was when I took a miss step and my foot found it all folded up, ignored.

So tonight, I write. I miss it. On our trip, writing became a form of reaching out to others but perhaps more importantly, to myself.

This blog is a purge, but also it is a reconnection. I don’t really know how many people have been reading our blogs this year. Very few comment, if ever and they end up in people’s inboxes to be filled, archived or deleted, but when that happens, before or after reading, is a mystery to me.

A Topanga friend stopped by unexpectedly the day after we returned home. She told me that as she walked up our driveway she got a flutter like one gets with celebrities when you know all about their life from reading headlines and they know nothing of you nor do they even know you know their stories. She had been following along all year, more or less silently and had become a part of our journey. Really?

And, my father-in-law (one I pretty much knew was watching our every move) said that I needed to keep blogging so that he wouldn’t go into withdrawal as each morning, along with his cup of tea, he read our blogs or Facebook posts and view our photos.

So this blog is for me, but it is also for Dana and for Colin and for anyone else who enjoyed reading about our journey and would like to have a peek through the window of our re-entry. It has really just begun and as I realize the power of blogging for my own psychology, perhaps more will come…even after the airline miles ticking upward slow to a crawl and then to a stop altogether, the journey continues.

I continue to ask myself, “who am I now?” and “how have I been altered by this experience?” and more. Perhaps I’ll discover threads to some of these here, in the written word with an unnamed audience in the strange community of cyber-space. We’ll see.

About Dr. Britta Bushnell

is a writer, teacher, storyteller, and mentor who blends her eclectic training, years of experience, and areas of study into a unique offering for individuals, couples, professionals, and groups. Britta is currently deep at work writing her forthcoming book, Transformed by Birth: Illuminating cultural ideals to enhance the experience of childbirth.

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