Being Gone

Posted On October 27, 2023

The six weeks of travel is nearly over. Now I need to prepare for re-entry.


Good morning from Phoenix. This is my final stop on my intense six weeks of business trips. By tomorrow afternoon I should be home and I will not only unpack, I will put my luggage away.

After years of mistakes, I’ve learned a bit about how to come off the road. For years I walked into my house with a chip on my shoulder and I’ve talked to other road warriors who experience the same. Our attitude is this – Whatever has happened at home while I’ve been gone is not nearly as difficult as what I’ve experienced on the road. I’ve suffered airports, hotels, and cabs. Late nights. Early mornings. The list is long. Travel is exhausting. It’s not glamorous. And my struggles should be acknowledged in some meaningful way when I return.

For example: Yesterday at the TSA checkpoint in Mobile, on my sixty-fifth flight of the year, the agent told me I set off an alarm. He opened all my luggage, he rifled through all my stuff, and I got a thorough and complete full body pat-down by a large, grumpy, and – based on the intimacy of the pat down – lonely TSA agent who might have once been a Catholic priest. It was a bad start to the week.

However, years ago upon returning home, my wife’s position was that whatever I was doing and wherever I was, it was not nearly as difficult as managing a house full of children alone. Sleeping in the airport was nothing compared to a house full of young kids. As soon as I stepped into the house I should apologize for being gone. She never actually said any of this. But it’s the way it felt to me.

I wanted recognition for my struggles which I felt were greater than hers. She wanted recognition for her struggles which she felt were greater than mine. And it sounded something like this: “I’ve been taking care of the kids nonstop for three days. Can you please bathe them tonight. I’m exhausted.” I wanted to say. “I’ve been standing in long lines at airports and crammed into airplane seats made for a person half my size for three days. I’ve been felt up and run down by TSA. I’m exhausted, too.”

Neither of us got what we wanted and my demand for recognition made re-entry into the home routines more difficult.

It’s much easier today. In fact, I stepped into the house a few weeks back with my suitcase and my son said, “You’ve been gone?” Yep. For three days. It stung a bit but it also confirmed he’s largely self-sufficient. It was a parenting win though it didn’t feel like it at the time.

There is a pace to my home when I’m gone and my job upon reentry is to fit into it. People, even family, quickly adjust when you’re not around. Stepping through the back door and expecting sympathy and recognition makes for a difficult reentry. Always and everywhere and all the time. And I remind myself of this each time I drive home from the airport.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

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