OK, maybe I am over-romanticizing the toaster. But being forced to fit your life into four suitcases can do funny things to a person.
After two years studying abroad, it is time to return to the USA. For 730 days (give or take a holiday or two), my husband has been buried eyebrow deep in medical school at St. George’s University on the Caribbean island of Grenada. It is not a U.S. medical school, meaning that the first two didactic years must be spent abroad. The next two years will hold all the real patient-centered fun, when he takes his book learning into the hospital for his clerkship years.
While he has carried on this all-consuming love affair with medical science, I have been freelancing, reporting, blogging, running a university organization, earning my Personal Fitness Trainer certification, learning and growing.
But life is a snow globe and, once again, the hands of fate are shaking it up. The dust will settle in July when the school finally tells us where we are going. Yes, for the next two months my professional title will be “freelancer who lives in her in-laws’ basement.”
Transition is hard for everyone. But a flying leap into the unknown lugging four suitcases is terrifying. When that flying leap is from a foreign country, the stress level gets bumped up a few notches and unanswerable questions start flooding your already overworked mind.
Will I be able to find a good job where we are going? Will food prices be higher than when I left? What will the neighborhoods be like? Will I fit in?
Suddenly the stability of having one toaster that you will keep for the rest of your life starts sounding pretty good.
Many of my cubicle-dwelling friends have expressed envy for our nomadic lifestyle. It must be liberating, right? Leaving all but the bare essentials behind for a life of discovery and progress. As those desk-dwellers come home at the end of their day, household items fade into the background as a dream of unfettered freedom beguiles their subconscious.
Freedom is great, but have you thought of what you would do with the toaster?
Unfortunately, it is human nature to be fettered. Most of us are inexorably tangled into a dream of success. Americans want something, and whatever shape your dream might take, it will probably involve lugging around a little stuff with you. Once you decide on the life path of liberated travel, those household items don’t just fade into the background while your Mary Poppins bags pack themselves with everything you might need or want.
As we travel that road towards being a doctor or a writer or a rock star or whatever we may dream, we will each acquire our own “toaster” — that thing that tells us that we are home. Your piece of home might be that old, leather Lay-Z-Boy, a beloved book collection or even the beautiful view of Mt. Rose. Whatever home means to you, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that give your life stability — such as the toaster.
Sarah Cooper-Glenn is a journalist from Sparks. She currently lives in Grenada where she is a global politics and travel writer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website, SarahGlenn.Net.