As I make my way to the Himalayas to work and visit the places that make me smile, I have to reflect and share my amazing seven weeks at home in Bellingham.
Never before have I come back from an extended trip and turned around to leave for another so soon! It is like being on vacation in your home. From the time I landed, I got to enjoy and be present with my good friends for seven weeks.
It started with having to get around for nearly a month as I waited for the van to arrive. Biking, Uber, borrowing cars. I re-integrated into my ever-changing and growing town of Bellingham. We are growing way too fast and as I returned from living in my van in South America for over 5 months, even my small house and rural setting was like a slap in the face. Money, money, money. Growth. Building. Consumption. Mainstream America is squarely on the doorstep of Bellingham WA. My oasis and happy place is being invaded. Don’t take it the wrong way. You wanna live there? Great. But we are being invaded by the almighty dollar. In search of a return on investment. Ugh.
I got to kayak and crab and eat from my garden. Catch up on hiking, yoga and most importantly, my friends there. Knowing my time was short there, I got to be present and enjoy every moment and laugh with my friends. I felt the love.
The van arrived in Tacoma and I quickly shot south to see Joe and Jenny and the girls (and my nephew Andy) in Oregon for a few days. Music, hiking, camping and (to the best of my ability) godfather duties. Elena and Thea are such good little girls. Elena laughing while she says “Uncle Bob! You’re silly!” melts your heart.
From the moment I got the van, the summer (or what was left of it) accelerated at breakneck speed. Joe and Kimber (their dog) and I raced north back to Bellingham. Once Jenny arrived, I was delighted to know my buddy David from Argentina (remember him from the eclipse?) would be arriving with his buddy Sergio as they are traveling the US.
Well, within two hours of arrival they were whisked off with us to the annual folk fest in Bellingham, The Subdued Stringband Jamboree. Three days of camping, friends, kids, beer, music, and friends. They somehow pulled off a traditional Asado for all my friends (I mean these Argentinians can make an Asado ANYWHERE!) and stepped into small (ish) town life in ‘merica. By the end of the festival, I was not known as Bob, but as the dude with the Argentine boys staying with him.
Having them stay with me the rest of my time home was amazing. It was like having two nephews with you who want to do all the cool stuff you want to do and you get to practice Spanish! My friends adored them.
Sergio knows English and David is learning. So it was back and forth in both languages all day and night. They worked for some of my friends that needed help and joined in on all my outdoor stuff. Backpacking the North Cascades (twice), hiking and swimming in the Chuckanuts, crabbing and kayaking in my neighborhood, bioluminescence swimming, music at the local pubs. And pretty much bringing their all-around amazingly kind Argentine brotherhood to Bellingham.
Argentina has such a friendly sharing culture that is definitely different. On the way to the festival, I asked who wanted a beer. As David cracked ONE IPA out of the six pack and passed it around, Joe looked at me and took a sip and passed it on. Later he was like “THAT’S how they drink beer?” I said, “Yeah, they share everything. Great huh?”
They were awesome houseguests, first camping in the yard (and me in the van) while Joe and Jenny and the girls slept in my house. Then sleeping downstairs in my living room while I got a few weeks in my bed before I hit the road again.
They helped cook and clean and were just awesome to have around. Quite a soft landing from my time abroad. And as usual, I learned things about life and perspective from these 20 something “chicos” as I called them. Their kindness, positivity and going with the flow. Hanging out with younger folks is rarely about drinking and socializing yet that certainly occurs (and did). It’s more about connecting with youthful hopefulness and lack of jadedness. It’s about keeping an open mind and sharing in life. Not waiting or expecting negativity. And willing to go! And not stop.
By the same token, I got to connect with many of my friend’s children while home. And I, of course, adore them and enjoyed it all. And Uncle Bob gets to enjoy and connect. Then head out to return again soon. I’m spoiled in that way and it’s by choice. And it’s not lost on me.
It was hard saying goodbye, knowing I wanted to enjoy them even more. It was also hard saying goodbye to all my friends, even though I felt completely present with them most of my time. It kept me focused.
I really struggled coming home this time for all the shit that is going down in the US. Getting caught up in our shit can be painful. People I know are getting priced out of Bellingham. And it had me start to take an even deeper look at moving.
But as I left yesterday and valued all the time with my friends, I just realized how fortunate I was to have my health and to let the positive energy of my friends and family give me refuge from the shit storm that is the world today. And to allow me to just do my best to inject as much positivity into my life and relationships, while not turning a blind eye to the reality of the world today. And I try and force myself to feel it more deeply but I’m not sure it’s possible. I feel it deeply. And that why it means so much to me when I do. Leaving allows me to value it more. It’s my way of seeing and focusing. It doesn’t always work. But it did this time. And it’s hitting me big time as I leave. It meant a lot to me. I love my friends there.
And of course…
The Himalayas await (again)……