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by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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What I’ve been up to (the offline edition)

It’s been kinda hard to write here since we’ve been back from our travels—not because I don’t have anything to share, mind you; I’m filled to the brim with thoughts and ideas, and I’m eager to transfer them from brain to screen.

No, it’s been hard to hit publish here for one simple reason: we’ve had a lot going on in our offline life, the stuff in the 3D world I haven’t really shared. (You know—the real world.) And when part of me is filled to the overwhelm, I tend to freeze as a writer.

Don’t get me wrong—writing does help me process, and my near-daily journaling routine has been my salve. But my brain has been flustered, what with all that’s required of it these days. There is much to think about right now. And so, my posts these weeks have been safe and a bit distant.

Quite a few of you have asked how we’re doing post-trip, so this week I thought I’d share a bit more on our end. There’s still plenty I’m keeping under wraps, but I miss writing more openly, and I want my upcoming posts that will undoubtedly wade through a smattering of uncertainty to sit on a foundation of authenticity. (Plus, I’m excited to tell you what we’re up to.)

So, in this post, I share some news.

We’ve been back from our travels for a little over a month, and for the most part, we’re readjusting well to Stateside culture. (For those of you curious, reverse culture shock is a real thing.) These weeks have been spent with family and friends, just as we wanted for our return. It’s been good.

You might remember that we sold our house before our big trip, a decision made for the simple reason that we realized we’d put the house on the market even if we weren’t about to travel. It was a good move, but we knew what that meant about our return: we’d come back to our home country with no real place to call home. We’d have to continue our nomadic ways until we…. Well, until we knew what was next. We’d have to transition from a posture of world exploration to MLS searches and number crunching.

It’s been wearying.

kids in sri lanka
The kids earlier this year at the train station in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

And so, we’re still living out of the same backpacks we’ve carried since the end of last summer, with the same few belongings (plus a few new things—a fresh shirt or two brightens anyone’s day after months and months of the same three). We’re still nomadic, living with friends or family or in guesthouses. We left our trip’s last stop in London and returned to Oregon, stayed a week, bought a new-to-us car (I know!), then tested it out with a little roadtrip to Texas. We’re basically still on our trip.

A key difference, however, is this: we’re not exploring the sites right now. We’re exploring what’s next for us. We’re in a family transition.

Another reason we sold before we left is that we had a suspicion the trip would serve as more than a lesson in geography and culture. We’d wade in to the depths of who we really are, into our cores, stripped of usual dependencies like physical stuff and knowing where we were from and what we did for work. We felt that completely leaving our house would aid in that process of deeper self-discovery. And it did, more than we ever suspected.

We ended our trip unsure about the basic answers to questions like “where?” and “how?”, but were certain about one thing:

We want to run a guesthouse. Yep.

We want it to serve as a resting place for people who serve in difficult places overseas, almost never take breaks, and could use a respite.

We also want it to serve as a quiet space for fellow writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and other creatives to work on deadlines, brainstorm new projects, and re-light their spirits.

And we want it to be a family business. Our family’s next venture.

reed in zimbabwe
Our middle guy, doing his schoolwork this past February at our guesthouse in Zimbabwe.

So, this is what we’re up to—we’re in search of the right place. While we’re open to doing this anywhere in the world (literally), we’ve decided that for now, Stateside is best for our family. There are other specifics too, which I’ll share later, but we’ve narrowed it down to our two favorite home bases: Bend and Austin. Where our family already has roots, and where we can re-plant easily.

We’ll have news to share soon, and we’re eager to finally move forward. In the meantime, this has meant guesthouse living, a continued nomadic lifestyle, an inability to make specific plans for the future (“Sure, we’ll sign you up for music lessons… soon”), and dreaming of our own mattresses, still waiting for us in storage.

There is much, much to be said for everyday life, seeped in the quotidian tasks of soup-making and karate practice, and we’re eager for its soon return.

But for now, we wait. And make plans. We bond over the shared memories of worldwide adventure, dream about our next far-off trip (because you know we’ll always travel), and brainstorm the details of this upcoming guesthouse. Life’s a bit messy right now. It happens sometimes.

And if you’re in a messy, unsure, everything’s-up-in-the-air sort of season, too, know that I’m right there with you. I get it. I clink my glass of iced tea to you, and offer you this simple thing I’m learning from firsthand experience:

It won’t last forever. And you’ll have just what you need when the next steps are ready for you. It’s what I’m holding on to.

(If you’d like to know more details about our plans, I’ll share more in my newsletter. You’re welcome to join the collective of readers there, if you haven’t yet. It’s my favorite place to write.)

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