A Tribute To Those We Love

It’s not easy being our friends and family.


There was a time when it was. When our buddies could count on us to be the first ones to the party and the last to stagger out (usually the following afternoon). When we would make ourselves available to babysit, play first base, or just catch a weeknight movie.

The hardest part about our decision to travel was the thought of leaving our friends and family behind. And the hardest part about continuing to travel is this enormous gap of space and time that has become an almost permanent fixture.

Forget easy phone chats while jointly watching (and trashing) the latest reality TV craze, or weekly catch-up emails to compare and commiserate over our awful bosses. Not only does distance separate us, but so does the absence of relatable topics to discuss. Few in the world, let alone our family and friends, can understand what it is like to permanently carry their homes on their backs and jump around the globe. And for us, we can no longer  empathize with corporate plights or hard Alberta winters. We miss birthday celebrations and weekend barbeques. We sometimes get (and give) valuable news in Facebook statuses.

Friendships have dissolved as a result. We weren’t blind to that possibility when we set out, some loss was expected, no matter how hard we fought to stop it. But the gap became too wide to be bridged and drifts began, sometimes erupting spectacularly, but ultimately leaving only enduring pain. It feels like some pieces of our past have been entirely set adrift.

Pete and his Dad, Times Square

Thankfully, such casualties have been few.

Because gawddamn if we don’t have some of the best friends and family in the world back at home still rooting for us. Compassionate people who do their best to try to relate to our new lifestyle, and who always have a spare bed on stand-by for when we roll thru town. Those that will schedule Skype chats around time zones, make time during their vacations for us, and even fly across the continent to see us.

Daren, Sharon, Paula and us in Central Park

We had no less than four friends and one family member come from Alberta to see us in New York, and the happy coincidence of two old friends scheduling their holidays in the Big Apple at the same time. That all of these people continue to make us a part of their lives is humbling. Strengthening. Recurrently tear-jerking.

One of my favorite moments in New York was with one of my best girlfriends from home, during an evening spent in a pub just off Times Square. Over beers and onion rings, we relayed our fears of seeing each other for only the third time in almost three years. Hers: that my minimalist lifestyle meant I would judge her family purchase of a new luxury vehicle. Mine: that I would be slighted for wearing the same shirt two days in a row. Silly, right? We thought so, because all we really care about is that each other is happy. We re-cemented our bond of friendship with a few tears, a round of shots, and hours of dancing like fools until the bouncers kicked us out. Just like old times.

I believe that you get out of the universe what you put into it. Thus choosing to put thousands of miles between us and those we love logically strips us of any right to the kind of relationships we once had. While we try our best to be here for our friends and family, we are painfully aware we can’t be there for them.

For that we despair.

And are endlessly grateful for the understanding and bountiful love we get regardless.


53 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • March 7 2012

    What a wonderful heart warming post. It is really difficult to have time for your near and dear ones when you are constantly on the move. A great read this, Thanks.
    Arti recently posted..A Real Bond: An Ode to My Grandpa

    • March 8 2012

      Sometimes it feels like home is the hardest place to get to. Thanks Arti. 🙂

  • March 7 2012

    I talked with D. about this over FB as she was contemplating travelling, and wanted a family member’s perspective. It’s obviously tough on both ends. Thank God we live in a time where we can ‘see’ each other through a computer screen – it helps. I miss presence, though…and excuses to eat turkey in the summer.

    My prayer is that we ALL continue to understand each other, as best we can, even though we live very different lifestyles.

    PS – I was thinking the other day about when we used to play settlers online and chat with each other. Good times…

    • March 8 2012

      I miss presence too (and turkey, of course). I often tell the story of Katie being so shy of me when we got back from South America, and how she said after a few minutes: “But Auntie Dade, you were in the computer?!” I am definitely thankful for the ability to see you guys and hear ridiculous knock-knock jokes while the girls make faces into the camera. I don’t think we could have gone this long without it.

      I am with you on that prayer. With us, I think some people have given up because it is so different that they see ours as an affront to theirs, when that is not how we feel at all.

      Can’t we still do that (settlers)? I’ll wake up early for it… 🙂 xoxo

  • Kim
    March 7 2012

    This is lovely. I am so sad to leave our friends and family to travel. It is, by far, the hardest part (and we haven’t even left yet). Luckily, you clearly have people that love you and stick by your side. A wonderful tribute.

    • March 8 2012

      Thanks Kim. It is definitely the hardest part about leaving, and it will continue while you travel. We’re so fortunate to still have the friends we do (and right now, a little homesick to boot). 🙂

  • Judy
    March 7 2012

    Although we don’t get to see you very often, you are always with us in spirit. Families and good friends don’t always require the physical body but there is a communion of hearts that endures. some of us will never have the chance you two have so we live vicariously through your adventures.

    • March 8 2012

      Thanks Auntie Judy. Those friendships that have stayed with us are those we can just pick right up where we left off. We are very fortunate to have as many supportive family and friends that we do.

  • jan
    March 7 2012

    I understand where you are coming from. It is wonderful to put those feelings into words and on such a public forum. A good and caring thing to do.
    Tears all round!

    • March 8 2012

      🙂 Thanks Jan. I’ve been wanting to write something like that for awhile, but it just felt right after having so many great visits from home.

  • Mom
    March 7 2012

    O.K. That was a real tear jerker. I will ALWAYS love & support you two. Even if you became homeless, pot smoking hippies. 🙂 Plus, I have had so many adventures from my sofa that I count as a huge blessing, which I wouldn’t have without you guys!! xoxo

    • March 8 2012

      Haha! Thanks Mom, Pete and I had a good laugh on this one. We know we’ve always got you rooting for us! 🙂

  • Caro
    March 8 2012

    Very touching post. I feel like that by choosing to move and travel so much, starting at a young age, I lost out on having that close knit group of ‘girlfriends’ or anyone to call to just catch up. But the ones that have stayed in my life, my god are they important to me. It’s really great to written this post to your loved ones. I’m sure they know how dear they are to you. : )

    • March 8 2012

      Thanks Caro. I hope they do know that! 🙂

  • Leah
    March 8 2012

    You are amazing people who inspire so many of us. You have such strength and courage to step out into the world knowing that the universe will cradle you in it’s hand and take care of you along the way. Hugs, tears and thanks. You are always loved and welcome.

  • March 8 2012

    Great post. Family and friends are the ones you can count on wherever you are.
    rashmi recently posted..Cheap Hotels in Ocean City, Maryland

    • Pete
      March 9 2012

      *True* friends, for sure. Which is what we’ve discovered since we left. Some of our friendships have even gotten stronger!

  • Ali
    March 8 2012

    This brought tears to my eyes. I just did a 5 month round the world trip, so I can’t completely relate to the permanent travel lifestyles, but I am an expat now and it brings similar situations. The distance and different experiences put space in between me and my friends and family back in the States, and while I know some people will always be important parts of my life, I imagine some will start to fade over time. It’s sad to think about, but my life is in Germany now. GREAT post!

    • Pete
      March 9 2012

      Thanks Ali. Yes, I could see how this definitely applies to expats as well! It is sad how some relationships fade, but it is inevitable, and has caused me to think: was it a solid relationship to begin with? Would it have withstood the test of time, regardless of travel? Probably not…

  • Abby
    March 8 2012

    Missing out on what’s going on in the lives of my loved ones at home was always the hardest part for me, too. Even now that I still have managed to live far away from them, even if I’m back in the US. This was so sweet.

    • Pete
      March 9 2012

      Thanks Abby. It’s a tough position to be in (being the ones who left), and if our families and friends weren’t so understanding, it would be even moreso. We’re so lucky. 🙂

  • March 8 2012

    This is sooo great!! I definitely could do something like the same. I doubt the lives we lead would be possible without support of family and friends.

    • Pete
      March 9 2012

      You are absolutely right, they would NOT be possible. I think a lot of vagabonds and gypsies could share this sentiment. (At least, I hope they do, have the same sort of support from home!)

  • March 9 2012

    Hey guys! That was a great post! It really warmed my heart. Thanks to your blogging I feel like I’m with you guys travelling to… not as fun as the real thing but it’s great reading! Someday I hope to visit you guys wherever you are.

    • Pete
      March 9 2012

      Thanks Jeff! We would LOVE it if you came to catch up with us at some point!

  • March 9 2012

    Great post. I too am lucky to have incredible friends who understand my wanderlust, and the fact I’m not always going to be there for important life events. But seeing them after time apart always makes up for it. Thanks for sharing 😀
    Laurence recently posted..Dealing with bed bugs when travelling

  • March 9 2012

    I felt myself getting frustrated with my friends this time around. Everyone acted like I was going away forever and it’s only going to be 3 months, I used to be away at University longer than that.
    Like you say, it’s not easy being friends or family members with a traveler, but with technology now, it’s hardly like we’re gone!

    • Pete
      March 10 2012

      I completely agree. Because we started our travels when technology allowed you to skype, I often wonder how much more (or less) we’d be missed if we couldn’t have video chats every week or so.

  • March 9 2012

    I do believe that families and friends will always be there no matter what and if these people really care they always put your happiness first. Good job on writing this heart-warming post.
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Roland’s Epic Adventures: Belmont Park

    • March 12 2012

      Thanks Alexa, and I think/hope you are right! Some fall by the wayside naturally, but some just get stronger. And seeing as we have no end in sight, I hope they are there for many years to come! 🙂

  • Dayna
    March 9 2012

    Sheesh – Teri made me teary eyed, and your Mom made me snort out my water (love the pot smoking hippies comment!) Great post! For me, I only ever saw you once a year (or so) anyway (YYC-YEG are so far apart!) so I almost feel closer to you now, reading about all your adventures! Miss ya! xoxo

    • March 12 2012

      Miss you too Chicken Bone! C’mon, I was on a good streak there before we left, didn’t we see each other like three times in a couple of months? Haha…

  • March 10 2012

    Beautiful post. After being gone for seven months, I found coming home and being reunited with friends (even via the phone versus Skype) was like we never left off, but also very different. The miles do separate you from the daily ins and outs of relationships, but at the end of the day, the people who are meant to be in your life, are still in your life … even after the bags are unpacked.

    • March 12 2012

      Very true Diana. It all happens as it should, really, as joyful or painful as each experience can be.

  • Alouise
    March 10 2012

    What a sweet post. It sounds like the friends and family that have stuck by you two are pretty amazing. While I hope one day I won’t be able to relate to Alberta winters either I know the distance between friends and family will be the hardest part of travel.

    • March 12 2012

      Thanks Alouise – it is the toughest part of leaving, that’s for sure. I don’t know how people used to do it when the internet wasn’t around, at least we can “see” each other as often as we want.

  • Cam
    March 12 2012

    Insightful post guys.
    Coming from the mouths of a couple that has officially “returned” home, take your time and enjoy the moments you have – they are very special. It will not last forever, you’ll come home when you’re ready (where ever you decide your new home will be) and the right people with still be there waiting with open arms and a cold beer!

  • March 12 2012

    Au contraire mon frere…why can’t it last forever? 🙂 At least for us, there is no end in sight. The good news is that we know our friends and family are going to be there for the long haul! 🙂

  • March 13 2012

    Very thoughtful post. It’s definitely tough being away from family and friends, especially if they’re going through distressing times or even happy times (weddings etc that you can’t be there for).

    And it is funny, isn’t it, the way we all seem to think the other is going to “judge” us for our choices/purchases etc – really, we are all our own worst critics!
    Wanderplex recently posted..An inflight magazine where every article rocks? Yes, if you do this.

    • March 14 2012

      That, we are! I’ve had those kinds of friends in the past (and I’m sure some of them still think we’re nutso!), but I think the ones I am surrounded by now are truly the greatest!

  • Snackitybox
    March 14 2012

    Well, I may not see you as often as I’d like anymore, but I certainly *brag* about you more often to people. (It usually starts “I have these two friends that are doing this amazing thing with their lives…” and inspires jealousy in friends and strangers alike.)
    And while we no longer share a sense of place it was never Alberta winters – nor even curling – that cemented our bond in the first place. Your ever- evolving writer’s voice and storytelling ability helps me see your current life while I miss ya all the more. And dammit, one day I will find a way to be in the same city as your housesit so we can have a couple (hundred) pints together and enlighten each other up the wazoo. In the meantime, I’m always reading. Mwah to you both.

    • March 14 2012

      Mwah back to you, m’love, XOXOXO! Promise me that if we ever make it to Vegas as part of our travels, that you will join us down there! We can find the bullet holes guy and sing our hearts out at the piano bar. That weekend remains as one of my FAVORITE travel experiences evah!!

  • Sabrina
    March 26 2012

    Great post! My friends and family were really good about staying in touch and being understanding the first few years after I left home. However, I think they always expected me to “come home” at a certain point and since that hasn’t happened yet, I have lost contact with many. I do try to stay in contact via Facebook, Skype, etc., but when you notice that it’s getting less and less from their side, it’s hard to keep it up from your side I think. On the other hand, who can blame them? I don’t have the money or time to fly from Texas to Germany for every important event (as much as I’d love to) and I can understand that some get upset about that. Oh well… I think unfortuntly that’s just part of living the life abroad 🙁 The bad part…. It’s not all bad though and I do have some amazing friends left back home. Even if we don’t see each other that often, we still email and talk and text. Those are the ones I am most grateful for.

    • March 27 2012

      I think that if some friends are lost along the way, then they really weren’t meant to be lifelong friends anyways – if it wasn’t travel, then something else would probably have driven a wedge anyways. We’ve lost some too, which makes the ones who “stick it out” with us all the more special! 🙂

  • April 1 2012

    This is a lovely post! Made me a little teary. A lot of my friends and family didn’t understand why I moved to Berlin and left Toronto. Thankfully too, most people have been cool.

    • April 2 2012

      Thank you Cheryl! There will always be people who “don’t get it” I guess. Thankfully there are plenty of people who at least care enough to try. 🙂

  • Joanie Joan
    May 27 2013

    Okay, so obvs I’m responding to this a little late. But damnit if I’m not getting all teary cheeked recalling how here you are for me when I need you. Far more ‘here’ than people who live minutes away and who have more time on their hands. I only hope I can give back to you 1/2 of what you’ve given to me. Love & miss you, Dalene, and hope to see you in the flesh again before too long. And if it is too long, I’ll still be here any time you need me. xoxoxo

    • May 28 2013


      I luv you my Joanie Joan. Can’t wait to see your beautiful face again. And I am ALWAYS here for you. 🙂

  • SAM
    May 28 2013

    Great post, though I must admit your Mom’s comment was the best part!

    It can be tough balancing sharing your adventures with not dominating the conversation. I sometimes fail in this. I’ve had awkward conversations like:
    Me: What’s new? (or some such)
    Them: Absolutely nothing. Working, mowing the lawn.

    I try to take it as an opp. to improve my conversational skills to draw them out (and bridge any perceived gap/ worries re judging each other etc.).

    You captured some of the challenges along with the joys of supportive friends and family so well.
    SAM recently posted..Dujiangyan and Mount Qingcheng

  • Erin
    January 24 2014

    You’re just an amazing blogger. Thank you. I read travel blogs, etc., etc., as we prepare for the big plunge ourselves, but this is the first blog that drove it home for me.

    Thank you.

  • Michael R Bernstein
    September 29 2016

    I’m living in Colorado and at 45 and unemployed, looking for something new. I served for 8 years in the USMC, deployed to Iraq in 2004 and was both and paid and volunteer firefighter for 10 years +. I love animals and they always respond to me. I also spent 15 years in pest control so I’m cool with getting rid of pests. Figured on getting human and pet CPR qualified as well as basic medical. I’m OCD as hell and real clean. What do I need to do?

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