I rarely have to travel for work. Maybe once every couple of years or so. Well, last week was one of those times. I left Monday morning with three people from my workplace (although not direct coworkers) and returned Friday morning, a day earlier than everyone else.
When I woke up Friday morning, I was surprised by the dominant emotion. It was regret, not joy. That surprised me. And upset me.
As I dressed and packed, I examined how I felt and why. Why would I be sad about leaving here and returning to my family?
First and foremost, I’m a creature of habit and resistant to change. Life had fallen into a very simple routine. But surely that alone couldn’t explain it? I also don’t like the thought that the group I’ve been “hanging with” is still hanging but I won’t be part of it. But surely that couldn’t be it? Surely my family is a better group than these guys?
So what was I doing while here that might make me reluctant to leave? Well, the work environment was very relaxed and low key. No one was pushing or rushing me. I only had a small assignment with dead time while I waited on other people. I didn’t have to find something else to keep me busy during those times. I could relax, visit with folks, whatever. And it was all OK.
The work day was longer that my standard work day but still easier. And then, after work, I’d go back to the hotel and chill. About an hour later, I’d go out to eat with my travel mates. They were a quirky lot but still fun to hang out with. Everyone had a good sense of humor. Our last dinner had been particularly enjoyable. And then I’d return to my room and read. Or blog. Or talk to my family on the phone. Whatever I wanted.
Home is chaos. Responsibility. Stress. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard.
I’m an elder in my church, currently serving on the governing body. My kids have many activities. There’s a lot to do. But while away, those responsibilities were distant. I had an out. But, as I packed my bags, I knew I was heading back to a busier, more stressful life. I was mourning the loss of the quiet, easy, selfish *me* time.
I was still pondering my feelings when I was dropped off at the airport. I was early so opted to walk down to the gift shop. I strolled through the racks looking for just the right items for my family. I smiled as I found things they’d like at reasonable prices. I called my husband to ask his opinion on one.
As we talked, he said to me, in response to a remark from one of the kids, “Daryl says he loves you. He’s the only one though.”
There was some commotion and other comments.
“Jane says she doesn’t love you.”
Indignant protests in the background.
“Hal loves you and he’s the only one.”
I could hear Daryl’s sharp outcry.
The conversation, rife with my husband’s trademark misrepresentations of what people were saying made me feel at home. I walked away from the gift shop, thinking over my purchases. I felt my throat constrict. Tears began to well in my eyes. I’m going home. And there’s no place I’d rather be.