Recently, my friend Omar asked me how we decided to do what we’re doing. Did we wake up one day and come to the conclusion that we should sell our house, pack our things, hit the road? Was it more than just a whim? If you know Omar, then you know this is a silly question since a few years back he saved up a bunch of money in order to quit his job and travel the world for a year. Whims don’t just happen.
Brooke and I met in college. We married young and moved into a low ceilinged garden apartment in La Grange Park. The buildings were old, heated by boilers and the pipes ran right above our heads. In the middle of winter we would sleep with our windows open.
Leaving LGP, Brooke distinctly remembers looking in the rearview mirror of our U-Haul and swearing we’d never be back. Our apartment in Roscoe Village, a tree lined neighborhood on the north side of Chicago, was 15 steps from a coffee shop and our neighbors became our best friends. We adopted a dog who spent half her day perched in our front window and the other half running across the courtyard to our friend’s apartment where she’d sit as we played euchre.
We bought a condo in Bucktown and Eleanor was born a year later. Now, when we’d take a walk, we’d walk to a park to push our baby in a baby-swing. Dinners would happen earlier than before. We lost touch with the latest and greatest the city offered.
The apartment was on the third floor and there wasn’t an elevator. We loved the condo but sometimes it would shake when a big truck would rumble by. Around this time we started to think about baby number two, as well as trudging up three flights, carrying Lucy (#2) and Eleanor, holding onto Sadie’s leash, with a bag of groceries hooked under one arm.
So, we moved back to La Grange Park. Ha!
For eight years we lived in a small but wonderful home that Brooke masterfully renovated. We raised our girls, marking their height on a wall in Eleanor’s room. They started school and met friends, we met friends too. Good friends that we would meet to skateboard with in a cul-de-sac. Friends that, by happenstance, booked a trip to Spain the same time we did. We met in Girona, wandered tight ancient streets and ate ice cream.
Brooke and I love to travel. The thrill of discovery and being somewhere new. But in our twenties we didn’t. We didn’t have the money and it didn’t fit the plan. After having kids though, that changed. We wanted them to appreciate the world outside of the Midwest. So we stayed in our small house on too busy of a street and spent anything extra on experiences, experiences that got us wondering where home really could be. A question we’ve asked ourselves countless times, a question that hasn’t gone away.
There’s this teacher named Rob Bell. He has a podcast and in some of the episodes Rob talks about the bass note. The low hum. “Something within you that knows the truth in you” he said on one episode. He suggests we try to listen to “a life that’s been speaking to us this whole time.”
The pandemic hit and for the first time I stopped traveling for work. Brooke lost her job, but she’s a masters educated educator who can teach our girls. And amidst it all there was the low hum that kept getting louder. So when one of us said “Should we sell our house? And then travel the country for a year?” the other one, without question, said “I was thinking the same thing.”
So here we are, on a journey, trying to listen to the bass note.