|Excited to come home to Philly - Italian Market|
I've often found while preparing for a performance, my focus becomes very intense and I may become completely consumed by the process necessary to get ready for stage. When I worked at Pacific Northwest Ballet, this was built into the fabric of my every day life. I woke up in my own bed, worked at the same facility daily, and returned home to rest in my own apartment. When I had weekends off, I would rest, hang out with friends, and enjoy the surroundings of my city. Developing patterns over time and repetition are natural and make living your own chosen lifestyle comfortable.
|Dance is my business (Photo: Brian Mengini)|
it can be quite different when you don't work where you reside. Essentially, a dancer is often forced to start from scratch with their lifestyle and friendships in each locale that they are hired. You generally can't call your close friends to hang out, go to that same yoga place that always helps you find your zen, find the exact same ingredients to that favorite meal you make every week, or drink at your favorite watering hole to let off some steam. Each freelancing gig can be an exciting, fresh adventure in a new city. But while you are building an alternative, short-term lifestyle elsewhere, everything still keeps running like usual back at home. Dealing with this reality can often be one of the biggest challenges for anybody that travels for extended periods of time with their work.
Back in 2012, when I first spent 5 weeks away from home with Alaska Dance Theatre, I was thrilled to return home to enjoy the familiar, see my partner and cats, and visit my friends and family. When I left home, tons of friends showed up to throw me a party to send me off on my adventure. Once in Anchorage, I became so immersed in my work that I didn't really think to shoot off a text message or make a phone call to check in with what was happening with most of those people. After my time away, I expected the exact same reception for my return upon my arrival. A few people had reached out to me on Facebook and stated how excited they were to see me. But the reality of my homecoming was more like walking onto an empty country field in the dead of night. Instead of stepping back into a scene of revelry, I came home to crickets. Most of those friends who sent me off were continuing on with their lives as they normally did. Nobody was holding their breath waiting for my plane to touch down.
|Dan working from home|
What I had originally thought would be an easy reintroduction, turned into a stressful period of examination and carefully executed re-entry. I spent my first week at home depressed and sitting around waiting for my phone to ring with invitations to reconnect. I quickly realized that any effort to see old friends was going to require me to be the one to reach out. One of my biggest challenges was that I had started freelancing almost immediately after moving to a new city. If I had been living in Philadelphia for a few years, it probably would have been easier to reconnect with friends. But I was still in the development period of most of my friendships in the city. I had to be very patient to connect again and found myself spending a lot of time exploring Philly on my own to occupy my time before my next travels.
|Exploring Philly on my own|
Time away from your home environment allows for one to return with new and fresh excitement. But don't let expectation get in the way of a happy return. Reach out to friends while you travel and after you've come home, but don't put the pressure on yourself to have an exciting homecoming party waiting for you. Don't feel like you need to live your life exactly as you did before you left. And don't suffocate your loved ones with immediate expectations. While traveling for work and time apart can make the heart grow fonder, break mundane lifestyle patterns, and refresh your outlook on living, it can also add stress to what used to be regular patterns. If you approach your return with less expectation and more awareness, you can gain a great deal of life experience to enrich your lifestyle at home.
|Me and Dan during 2 weeks inbetween gigs|