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Homebodies and Rolling Stones
June 4th, 2010

For those of you who are fellow bloggers you are familiar with the site swap.  For those of you who do not blog, permit me a bit of explanation.  While I write this blog for myself – to satisfy my own curiosities and explore the things I find interesting – I would be lying if I said that the feedback, insight, and sense of community I’ve grown to love from my fellow bloggers wasn’t also a big part of my affinity for writing, and more specifically, blogging.  Over time we come to know snippets of each other.   And while sometimes names, hometowns, and other identifying details are conspicuously absent, the heart of the matter (whatever that matter may be) is always fully explored. 

Kristen at Motherese is one such fellow blogger whose words I look forward to and whose insights I value.  And so today, I’m honored to post her words here, so that you may get a glimpse of her perspective on life.  In turn, a post of mine is up on her site, so when you’re finished here, stop by her place for my post.  And stick around and pilfer through her archives.  I know you won’t be disappointed.

Homebodies and Rolling Stones
by Kristen @ Motherese

Flying home on a Sunday afternoon in January after another week away, I was actually a bit sad to see the trip come to an end.

That is unusual for me: I usually prefer to stay home than to travel.  I enjoy planning vacations and mapping out an itinerary, but, as often as not, I find myself counting down the days until I can return home once I am actually on the road.

I traveled a lot as a kid and as a young adult.  I’ve visited almost all of the states and many countries.  I’ve had my breath stolen by natural wonders and by man-made structures.  I’ve biked on glaciers in Alaska and gulped apple wine at Oktoberfest in Offenbach.

I treasure these experiences, but sometimes I feel like a collector of memories – more interested in tucking them away and looking at them in pictures, rather than in living a trip as it occurs.

Feeling somewhat nostalgic for this recent trip that was coming to an end, I happened upon two bits of literary inspiration – one lofty, the other not so much – that helped me name these phenomena.

The first came through the typically direct words of Olive Kitteridge, the title character of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel-in-stories, and a companion of mine on my trip to Florida.  Olive’s grown son Christopher invites her for a visit.  She declines his request to have her stay “for a couple of weeks” with the rejoinder: “Three days…After that I stink like fish.”

And I wondered if Olive’s rule of thumb for houseguests might just apply to travelers as well – and if the best vacations are those that contain – almost like the best meals? – just enough to fill you up, but still leave you wanting a bit more.

This trip to Florida was just that for me.  I was delighted by the sunshine and the warmer temperatures, by the chance to walk and play outside in January, by the time with my parents and brothers.  I felt full of all of these good sensations, then drove away from those people whom I love wishing for more of all of them.

For me, the ideal time away was a week.  For Olive, it seems to be three days.  For others, it might be more or less.  The key, I think, is knowing your travel tolerance and planning accordingly.

The second piece of worldly and wordy wisdom came from one of Big Boy’s favorite book series: Toot & Puddle.  These porcine roommates and best friends have different perspectives on travel.  Toot has been bit by the travel bug and spends most of his time on-page globetrotting – from Provence to Nepal, from Egypt to the Solomon Islands.  Puddle, meanwhile, is a homebody.  He occasionally joins Toot on his adventures, but is usually happier in the rhythms of his day-to-day life.  At the end of Toot & Puddle, the first book in the series, the pigs are reunited at home for a December celebration.

“Here’s to all your adventures around the world,” said Puddle.

“Here’s to all your adventures right here at home,” said Toot.

And perhaps that is the distinction right there: some of us find adventure through travel and some of us find adventure through staying put.  And maybe those proclivities bend and evolve as we age, as our destination changes, and as our sense of home shifts.

But maybe some of us shy away from adventure altogether, evincing a preference for home but really masking a fear of the unknown?

Could it be that my own deep connection to the idea of home makes me tend toward a static life?  Could it be that my risk-averse nature causes me to miss out on the brighter and deeper dimensions of living?

What is your travel tolerance (i.e. how long can you be away from home before you want to return)?  Are you a homebody like Puddle and me or a rolling stone like Toot?

19 Responses to “Homebodies and Rolling Stones”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    “just enough to fill you up, but still leave you wanting a bit more.”

    Wise words. For me, to unwind, it takes at least 5 days. If it’s France, give me 10 days and I’m a new woman. New York City, 3 days is glorious. Funny how it depends on where it is, for some of us.

    Thought-provoking words, as always. (And wishing I could get away!)

  2. Justine Says:

    Can I be both a rolling stone and a homebody? Because I feel I am. On most days, I like staying put, being still, finding comfort away from the hustle and bustle. But I always have future plans to travel, find a weekend getaway here, a vacation to dream up there to make these days of stillness a little more exciting, even bearable. I love the break from routine that traveling affords me, apart from the novelty of sights. And it makes coming home that much more wonderful because I appreciate the comfort and familiarity of my home with renewed vigor.

  3. Gale Says:

    Justine – I think I’m like you. I love the comforts of home, but the liberating experience of leaving it every now and then. All of one or the other would probably make me crazy.

  4. slamdunk Says:

    I am more of a home-body, but appreciate my few trips. We have an annual family vacation for 2 weeks to the beach, but it has been part of our lives for so long, I don’t really miss home at all.

  5. SuziCate Says:

    Kristen, yes travel gives us excitement and adventure and home gives us comfort and security. While I can enjoy both, I like you prefer to be at home. I’m sure that is no surprise to you.

  6. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    @BigLittleWolf: I’m totally with you that there is a correlation between destination and duration. Right now the idea of some of my past whirlwind trips seems daunting and I couldn’t imagine them for more than a few days, but the idea of a nice hotel in a great city with good food and free babysitting? Book me for a month!

    @Justine & @Gale: I also long for those breaks in the routine. These days, with the two little ones, I get them most often when people visit us rather than when we visit others. There’s something nice about enjoying the comforts of home even when there’s a break in the usual rhythm.

  7. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    I am definitely a homebody. I love my house. I think a week (in a really awesome location) is all I can take. Well, maybe not. I never wanted to leave Greece. For places that are not incredibly awesome, like Las Vegas, 3 days MAX.

  8. Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point Says:

    Hi Gale,

    What a beautiful and thought-provoking post, Kristen.

    My travel tolerance seems to hinge on the seasons. At the first sign of sun in the spring, Husband, Son and I pull out one bag that gets packed an re-packed for several overnight or weekend stays within the state. We enjoy small-town festivals, hot air balloon shows and the occasional getaway to a garden cottage in a remote hippie town hosted by a dear friend. Come summer, we take a week-long vacation sunning, splashing basically chilling hard. Fall, because it’s often beautiful everywhere on the planet, may be another week of gallivanting (two weeks if family/friends are involved) depending on commitments. Finally, winter is for hibernating at home when, as much as we love the idea of snow, we rarely subject ourselves to its bite.

  9. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    @Slamdunk, @Suzicate, @TKW: I’m glad to be in the company of so many homebodies – and what fine company you all are!

    @Belinda: Our summer schedule is actually full of a bunch of weekend roadtrips. Travel feels different now that we’ll have the boys in tow, but summer has always turned on my travel energy more than the other seasons. And, like you, I like to stay close to home in the winter. When the snow and ice start, I don’t even like to leave to do my grocery shopping. (Then again, the idea of a warm getaway does hold a lot of appeal!)

  10. Jane Says:

    I used to love to travel – be anywhere but home. But now that I’ve created my own home, there’s no place I’d rather be (except for maybe Disney World but even *I* enjoy coming home after a trip there). Oh! And you referenced one of my favorite books to read to my kids: Toot & Puddle. The perfect example of different souls who still find joy in each other – kind of like here, in our very own blogging community.

  11. Sarah Says:

    I’m a little bit Toot, a little bit Puddle.
    And sometimes I think the adventures at home are a little TOOOOO adventurous. But the ones far away not real enough. I don’t know where the answer lies. Quite possibly, with Olive Kittredge and the three day rule.

    Loved this post, Kristen. As always. You speak to the masses.

  12. Privilege of Parenting Says:

    I’m with Sarah on this. I find that I love to travel and I love to be home—it’s the transitions that kick my butt. Getting ready to go away (and getting there) is often exhausting; finally shifting into a slower pace and loving it makes the merger onto life’s freeway a bit of a white-knuckle re-entry. I often dream of a year in London or Provence or Ireland, but then I think how hard it would be to miss a year of the life I do have.

    I have a lot of clients and friends who travel very widely and I find that I am absolutely delighted to arm-chair travel, vicariously relishing the highlights and greatly relieved to have missed out on near-death in a Calcutta hospital.

  13. Leslie Says:

    I love to be home, particularly when I have/take the time to really BE there. When I live fully at home, it can feel as rejuvenating as getting away from it all (but I say that as a person who has never traveled purely to get away from it all and always with an intent to go, see, do, visit, learn, reunite, etc.). On the other hand, I LOVE to get into the car and drive for days. I love seeing new places, and even more, I love feeling at home there. As soon as we add plane trips (especially long ones), tight schedules or short stays to the mix, the fun and adventure starts to be overshadowed by stress and exhaustion. And I felt that way before I was a wife or a mother. If we’re in the States, I’m happy with 3-10 days; if we’re skipping more than a couple of time zones, I need at least 7 days on the ground between flights to not go crazy!

  14. Alexandra Says:

    I LOVE going away, but I so love walking in my door.

  15. ck Says:

    “Here’s to all your adventures right here at home.” Trust a children’s book to make us think. Or me, anyway. Sometimes I forget that adventures can happen at home, usually because I’m stuck at home and dream of leaving. And then my kids blow me away by creating worlds and experiences out of things I overlooked.

    This was a great post, Kristen. Thank you for hosting her, Gale!

  16. Anne Says:

    I love travel. But I’m also someone who loves being at home. So I find myself loving to be away for about 2-3 weeks…enough time for an adventure. And then I want to see my doggies, my bed, etc. Great post.

  17. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    Thank you all for reading and thinking along with me.

    I really relate to what Bruce has to say about all the transitions that come with travel. They are terribly difficult, aren’t they? All the packing and planning and then all the catching up (not to mention all the laundry). Now I see why the rich have vacation homes and large staffs. Somehow I don’t see either in my immediate future. Alas. :)

  18. Eva @ Eva Evolving Says:

    So happy to see you here, Kristen! And thank you for introducing us all to Toot and Puddle. That’s a literary reference I never would have come across on my own.

    I’m a homebody. I love being home. I love weekends when we don’t have to leave the house (or yard, as it were). I love evenings at home with my husband and our dog.

    But I also love travel and the break in routine, the excitement of seeing new places… and the comfort of returning home.

    An issue that seems related is what type of travel you like. Ideally, I’d love to take two vacations a year: one for pure relaxation (like a beach vacation with all-inclusive food and drinks!) and one for adventure (kayaking, hiking, museums and sights). I think they provide different types of food for the soul.

  19. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    Hi Eva – You make a great point about different types of travel suiting us at different points. These days the only kind of travel that sounds appealing to me is the pure relaxation kind. And I’m happy to report that, since Gale posted this on Friday, Husband and I made reservations for our first weekend trip together – sans kids! – since Big Boy was born. We’re going to a friend’s wedding, but it will be relaxing all the way. Woohoo!