It has been year in a half since we returned to the United States from our World journey. Honestly, it is hard to believe that we have been in the same country for over a year! I still have a picture in my head of us packing and getting ready for the gap year, ahhhh. It was without a doubt the best year of our life and something that we’ll cherish forever. Upon our return, we first settled down in Highlands Ranch, CO although I would not call this place our home. Colorado was absolutely beautiful, there is so much to do here, especially if you are an outdoor enthusiast. Over the last year we have explored a lot in Colorado, while venturing out to New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota and Idaho too. Our life is much more settled, kids have a routine and structured day but I wouldn’t call our lives any more organized. I must admit, we constantly go back down memory lane and elicit thoughts of our unreal and dreamy year on the road. Sometimes I wonder if we will ever be able to be fully present, completely focusing on a given moment and not looking back on what we have experienced during the gap year.
Several months ago I grabbed coffee with a newly met friend in Colorado. We were talking about our lives and how we ended up in the mountains. I gave her a quick synopsis of our journey and she literally bombarded me with tons of questions about the trip. At the end, she made a statement “wow, it had to be really hard to get back to the real life”. I just looked at her and after a long pause responded “you have no idea”. We planned and executed our year abroad like pros. With very few hiccups, we stayed right on our budget, and we felt good about every decision. We were so good at packing and moving every 5-7 days, we understood each other without saying a word…but…we never prepared for the after party. Of course, we knew we couldn't travel like that forever but we never realized how much effort and stress getting back on our feet would be. Not financially (we set a budget aside for that) but mentally and emotionally. I guess the quote “expect the unexpected” is very true, ha.
I will never forget the day I landed back in the USA. The last part of our trip we spent in Europe with my family and friends. Rick came back a few weeks earlier, while me and the kids just traveled back and forth between Poland and Germany. The night we arrived back I think I cried all night (and trust me, I rarely shed a tear). Everything felt so strange and foreign. I felt so lost, sad and confused. I swear I wish I was more like Leo or Mila…those kids just go with it, they don't overthink anything and fully enjoy every little thing. I was happy to be back but at the same time, I had no freaking idea what was happening to me. I was back in a known place yet I felt like a complete stranger. I didn't have much time to think about my current state because we had to find a place to live. Everything was happening super fast and before we knew it, we were driving to our new house in Colorado. You would think that after sleeping in over 60 different beds in 12 months, laying down in your own would be a glorious moment. That was not the case. I think I finally slept through the whole night after 2 weeks (I literally slept better while having a newborn baby at home) and thats only because I was exhausted of organizing our new place. Moving around the World, I felt so free and liberated. We only took two suitcases with us and we were able to live and visit places that many only dream to see. Once we got back, things felt complicated and complex. It is true in our family when we say things don't make you happy; experiences do.
I remember the morning when Rick went back to work. He got dressed in his suit, we ate breakfast and then he left for the whole day. I looked at my two kids and had no idea what to do next…I know it sounds silly but believe me, during the gap year we literally spent every minute together and each day was so unpredictable. Daily routine was like a foreign language to me. I think I forgot that a usual week consisted of 5 work days and two weekend days. It is amazing because Leo and Mila seemed as we have lived here forever, they had no problems adjusting to our new situation. Rick and I…thats a different story…we could barely survive a day without feeling lost and empty. Believe me, we had no idea how to operate in a normal day to day world.
As they say, time heels everything and fortunately after a while, we saw light at the end of the tunnel. We started to venture out during weekends, explore our surroundings and seek new adventures. We still get overwhelmed by the consumption oriented world, especially when we had to buy everything from kitchen utensils, towels, furniture, cars, pretty much everything you need to exist in the modern world. We tried to keep everything very minimal but suburbia living seems to be everything but minimal…Of course, we still keep looking at our picture and videos from the gap year, but we are also creating new memories. We recently made a pact that we are going to see all the 50 states before we turn 50, haha (we have only 10 states left).
As much as we doubt some decisions in life, one things is for sure, we have never doubted our trip around the world. It was our life long dream and we feel so proud we made it happen. Nothing or no-one will ever take that away from us. Coming back was super challenging but we are adapting. We are still the same Hermans yet something in us changed forever. We are more sure of who we are, and what we want in life. I think we have more patience and understanding, things happen for a reason and there is a reason why we are here today…here meaning Florida! After an adventurous year in a half in the mountains we decided to move back to the good old sunshine state. Colorado was absolutely stunning, we really felt for it and enjoyed it to the fullest. But deep down we knew this was not a forever thing. All along we knew that one day we would be making a return to West Palm, but we didn't think it was going to happen this soon. In short, one thing led to another and as a result we purchased a condo in Florida (originally, it was an investment idea but as of now, it is our permanent residency). There is no doubt that we will be returning back to The West and exploring it more but for now this warm and sunny weather suits our clothes :) My dear friend asked me if this was our forever place…I honestly cannot answer that question. It is a good base for us for now but I have no clue for how long. Once a wanderlust always a wanderlust so maybe another gap year will come our way, stay tuned!
Hi! We're The Herman Family exploring the world. We'd love for you to join our adventure. Welcome Aboard!