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I booked my plane ticket “home” today.  I won’t land in California for a few months yet … still… GULP.

The word “home” is in quote marks because, at this point, I’m not sure exactly where that will be. When I left last September, I sublet the adorable California bungalow I was renting in Oakland with the assumption I’d move back in come April. Alas – my landlords are changing things up such that I won’t be able to live there any longer when I return.

I initially met this news with fear and self-pity. Really?! I am supposed to continue living out of my luggage for an indeterminate amount of time? I won’t get to sleep in my own bed as I’ve been dreaming of doing? At least not immediately I guess… Thankfully, I’m gaining a modicum of seternity around the situation. And though I’m still not 100% at peace with the idea … onward, right?

And this little kerfuffle prompted me to really evaluate what a home is. I’ve learned over the past months that I can live with just a few belongings in a suitcase and a roof over my head. And I’ve been telling myself since I landed in Africa and saw how people lived that I wanted to downsize. Certainly to simplify. So – someone was listening and I get to do just that. I have no idea what “that” will look like. How could I? But as I write these words, I’ve gotta say … I’m actually a bit excited.

So what does all of this have to do with this Onward blog? Aside from the obvious (keep moving forward, regardless of what comes up) – it’s really gotten me to thinking about all the homes I’ve seen and visited over the past several months. And the lives people live in and around these homes. So I thought I’d reflect a bit on what I’ve seen in each country I’ve traveled through, on how people live, on what “home” can really mean…

ZAMBIA

School kids in the village where they live.

School kids in the village where they live.

At home in the bush

At home in the bush

ZANZIBAR

Proud Rama and family in front of their home

Proud Rama and family in front of their home

Heading home after work

A chat before heading home from work

VIETNAM

Girls traveling home in the mountainous trails outside of Sapa

Girls traveling home in the mountainous trails outside of Sapa

Stilted homes on the Mekong

Stilted homes on the Mekong

CAMBODIA

A "pig palace" we built in a local village

A “pig palace” we built in a local village

The cemetery at Elephant Valley Project ... the final home for three of the elephants

The cemetery at Elephant Valley Project … the final home for three of the elephants

LAOS

Monks heading home as the run rises on Khong Island

Monks heading home as the run rises on Khong Island

Ducks waddling through the main drag of my fave village

Ducks waddling through the main drag of my fave village

THAILAND

Dogs relaxing in front of their home in a Chinese Koumintang village outside of Pai

Dogs relaxing in front of their home in a Chinese Koumintang village outside of Pai