Home Away- and a giveaway

Anyone who’s been reading here for a bit knows how passionately I loved Launa’s account of her family’s year in France, Wherever Launa Goes.  Imagine my delight, then, when I received her book, which tells the story of what she discovered in her year away from home.  I don’t think it’s giving anything away to say that what she found there was nothing less than herself.  Home Away: A Year of Misapprehensions, Transformations, and Rose at Lunch is every bit as wonderful as I expected.  Actually, it’s more wonderful.  Because, you know, it’s a book.

I’m thrilled to offer a giveaway copy of this marvelous book to a reader.  Just leave a comment and I will choose a winner on Sunday.  Just as I loved Launa’s blog, I love this book.  Launa’s voice is lyrical and funny at the same time, and she has achieved the holy grail of memoir, which is to take something deeply personal and make it powerfully universal.  Home Away is, in the end, Launa’s love letter to her husband and daughters.  Sometimes it takes going far away to realize the value of what is right in front of us.  Some of the tenderest parts of Home Away, in opinion, could have happened anywhere on the globe: they are beautiful evocations of the relationship between husband and wife, between mother and daughter, between sisters.

I’m happy to share a short excerpt from Home Away: A Year of Misapprehensions, Transformations, and Rose at Lunch.  It was extremely hard for me to choose what to post here, because I love so many passages from this book.  Read it: I know you’ll love it too!  And leave a comment here, and I’ll pick a winner on Sunday!!

from Home Away, chapter 1:

So, on a sunny day in June nearly two decades ago, my stability-craving heart pledged itself to Bill’s adventurous one.  We made our promises in the firm grasp of a series of big ideas about about one another, the most important of which was that we were opposites who belonged together.

We promised all the usual have-and-hold, sickness-and-health, forsaking-all-others business, of course, but we added a few pledges of our own.  Knowing our proclivity to want to do different things at the same time, we promised to live our lives in the same place(s).  We foresaw the tortured negotiations it would require for us to decide whose job or school or flight of fancy would take precedence, and naively decided to take turns.  In our marriage, nobody would compromise any more than anybody else.

We also decided that we would inspire one another to bigger and better contributions to the world.  In retrospect, I have come to understand just how insane that particular vow must have sounded to the older-and-wiser married people witnessing our ceremony: “I promise not to make your life easy, but to make it meaningful,” we actually said aloud, beamingly pleased with ourselves and one another.

Another vow we wrote went something like this: “I promise to be married to you every day of our lives.”  Through this promise, we would recognize each day as a choice, not the default, and thus never feel trapped, and never take our marriage for granted.  We would grow and change together, creating in each day of our marriage yet another opportunity to say, “I do.”  We chose a forever made of days.

And finally, we promised that someday, when we had children, we would live overseas, recapitulating the trip that launched a thousand stories.  This last promise was entirely Bill’s idea, and I only agreed because the promise had the word “children” in it.  The whole living overseas part I would deal with later.  Much, much later, and only if he forced the issue.

Sometimes, with love, you hold a little something back without admitting it, even to yourself.


“Bill, I’ve had it with this stability I keep clinging so hard to.”

“You and me both.” We had talked hundreds of times on this point, always in circles.  He had no way of knowing what I was about to say.

“It just keeps not working like I thought it all would.”

“Yeah.  Why is that?” He rolled towards me, and pulled me close.

“I don’t know.  But I wanted to ask you something.  Remember how we promised that someday we would live overseas?  And then I kept pretending I hadn’t really promised that?”

“Yeah.” His voice was quiet, but I had his attention.

“A year from now, Abigail will be finishing first grade.  She will know how to read and write.  Grace will be finishing fourth grade, and not yet in middle school.  The girls aren’t too young, and they’re not yet too old.  I will have finished five years at my job, and the school will be in solid shape so I can pass it on to the next head of school with a good conscience.”

Even while busting out, I had to have a careful plan.

“Let’s quit our jobs, rent out our house, and go.  I think it’s time.”

He looked at me as though I had just thrown him a winning lottery ticket.  And a pony, and a beer.

His eyes widened, and then he pulled me close and squeezed me tight. “I knew if I waited long enough, someday you’d say that.  I’ll take care of everything.  You can trust me.”

I should have known just how fast and loose I was playing with the future by even whispering Bill’s sacred word: travel.  Once he had the green light, his idea of taking care of things meant he would spring ahead, dragging the rest of us behind him like noisy tin cans bumping on the highway.  With a new adventure to motivate him, he was suddenly filled with an enthusiasm that had escaped him in his every day life.

But here’s the thing: while I had only wanted to leave where I was, he was dying to go somewhere else, and those two impulses had surprisingly little in common.  I wanted to step out of my life, but he wanted to be in Rome.  Or Bulgaria.  Australia came up.  Northern Africa.  Iceland.  Mars.

Soon enough, and for only the flimsiest of reasons, his somewhere became southern France.

We moved for the experience of spending a year away from our two-kid, two-job, too-chaotic New York life, but we were still utterly divided about what we were searching for there.  Would we find the adventure Bill had lost?  Or the stability I so craved?  Did we even know that each of our searches imperiled the other’s?

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board,” Zora Neale Hurston began Their Eyes were Watching God.  Our marriage vows had focused our eyes on one distant ship.  When it floated into port, we discovered that neither of us could find quite what we had expected packed into the hold.

When we started planning our year in France, we gazed together at another distance ship.  Our wishes would be on board that one, we were sure.

See? Isn’t Launa wonderful? Leave a comment here to win Home Away: A Year of Misapprehensions, Transformations, and Rose at Lunch.

43 thoughts on “Home Away- and a giveaway”

  1. Thank you for the introduction to Laura & her lovely words. I loved this “Sometimes, with love, you hold a little something back without admitting it, even to yourself.” I too lived in France for 3 years but I was young & untethered. I’m fascinated to read about Launa’s experience.

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing this. Launa’s writing is completely new to me. I can’t wait to read more. And I must say, I day dream about taking the girls abroad for a year all the time. When I have had it with the homework, the sports practices at dinner time, the day long dance recital rehearsal. And my girls are exactly the ages that Launa’s were when they left. Tempting…

  3. Lindsey,

    Thank you so much for sharing my life and our journey here! I have loved connecting with you through writing, and your encouragement has meant the world to me!

  4. This excerpt reminds me of my own dichotomy: I crave both travel and being a homebody. It seems like the weirdest thing, but somehow the two fit snugly inside of me. Great excerpt!

  5. Thanks, Lindsey, for sharing your thoughts on this book. Definitely going to add it my Amazon list! I’ve read so many of your previous recommendations and know that I can’t go wrong with this one. We have kindred spirits, it seems.

  6. I loved reading this excerpt! I have followed my husband around the US as we both took turns searching for I don’t know what – peace, harmony, adventure…our last move took us to our beautiful home in PA and I am so thankful that my husband listened to my crazy idea and said if you can make it happen do it! We love it here and are surrounded by nature, new friends, new jobs. It’s wonderful.

  7. I love the way Launa writes, and I would love to read her tale of living abroad with two children! Sounds like an amazing adventure!

  8. I have a friend who LOVES France. This friend also happens to be going through a rough life transition. If I win this book, I will definitely share it with her – it sounds amazing.

    (PS, hello! I come by way of Rebecca at Mommyproof; she speaks very fondly of you.)

  9. I’d love to read this! I’m a big memoir fan and a francophile to boot so I anticipate this is a winning combination 🙂

  10. I love books that describe marriages and provide a backdrop with which to compare my own struggles. I would love to win a copy of this book.

  11. This book looks amazing…right in line with the questions and uncertainties that come up as a relationships grows and stumbles and reblossoms. And I’ve been looking for just such a book to read – thank you!

  12. Oh, this is a soft spot for me…. relationships, kids – I love people who can write about it eloquently. I have always wanted the stable life but also wanted to travel abroad with them – maybe this shows both? My husband has no desire, or understanding even of this desire. It has come up recently – sigh.

    I love your reviews and will buy this book even if you don’t pick me I bet. I probably shouldn’t write that….but I have a penchant for saying too much! Thanks!

  13. My husband would love to live somewhere else for a year. I feel more tethered to home. It takes such courage! Not to mention dealing with children (language, schools, etc!)
    Sounds like a great book!

  14. Wonderful. Can’t wait to read it. My very dear friend left CT for 2 – 3 years to go live in Switzerland, in the town where her (Swiss) husband was raised, and where his parents still reside. They are there with their two young children and were lucky enough to have their (both Swiss!) companies move them there. They are having quite a time. I can’t wait to share this with her too!

  15. Brave, fun, exciting and scary come to mind to move away from all that’s familiar and live for a year in a new environment. Reading the whole thing would be like being there. Thanks

  16. I can’t wait to read Launa’s book. I spent my childhood traveling from place to place and am proud to call myself a “Third Culture Kid.” I have lived in the same city for over 30 years now but I still yearn for that indescribable place called “home…”

  17. That book sounds amazing! Andrew and I have thrown around the idea of living abroad for a little bit at some point, so I’m very curious to read it! Even if I don’t win the giveaway, it is definitely going on my reading list!

  18. How Brave! I need to read this book if only because I too am trying to have some bravery blossom in my life. It’s slow going, but not impossible, right?

  19. I’ve spent extended time in Italy, France and Thailand. These experiences have shaped so much of who I am. I am also a big fan of expat memoirs. I wrote a novel about an American girl who goes to Thailand and ends up staying, and teaching English (based loosely on my own experiences), and I am currently paving the path to publication. Even if I don’t win this book, I’m putting it on my to-read list!

  20. I’m intrigued!~ Fifteen years ago I moved to Puerto Rico for a year, and I always said that’s when I became me.

  21. Oh, my gosh – thank you for sharing this! Reading this passage, my heartrate spead up, my breathing quickened, and I felt that all-too-familiar tug toward the horizon. As Joni sang, “I get the urge for going….,” and because it’s just my 10 year old and me, I often think we could/should embark on the same kind of adventure. For now, we’ll take comfort in our little day trips….

  22. Years before I started reading your blog my husband, Maikael, stumbled upon Launa’s blog. I think, in the intervening years, I found my way to her blog through yours, but I was recently going through the Bookmarks on my computer and found Launa’s blog bookmarked there by Maikael, years and years ago. Small world! Someday I’d like to do what she did.

  23. Imagine having so much insight about your relationship at the time of marriage to be able to make those types of intentional vows to each other. It blew me away!

    My husband and I are also opposites and although over time because of our strong commitment to each other and our life together, we have developed some of these profound insights but they have been hard won.

    But I wouldn’t have it any other way – growing together in love, real love. What an inspiration this story is!

  24. I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently, and this sounds like the perfect book for this time.

  25. I’ve had crazy wanderlust all my life. I love to read about families that can walk away from the “grind” to follow their dreams. I am excited to pick up this book and read about their adventures. Her writing style is divine. Thank you for sharing!!!

  26. I would love to read this…anyone who quotes one of my favorite books is definitely high on my list. Their Eyes Were Watching God transformed my way of thinking about love…

  27. Oh, Lindsey, I am trying to be brave! My middle daughter, husband and four year old daughter have quit their jobs, are renting their condo in San Francisco since it is their last year of freedom before my granddaughter starts to kindergarten.They are traveling to Europe and upon returning want to find a new location and new jobs. I admire their courage, and I am not that brave. They are coming to visit us for a month before leaving since we live on the east coast and don’t see them nearly enough. After reading about Launa’s experiences, I would love to win a book for them to read while they are here. My hope for them too is that they will discover more about themselves and what is really important. I continue to learn about “letting be” and “trusting”. So glad you shared about his book. Thanks

  28. Wow…I could never do that. Sounds like such an adventure. I am so truly meek. Would love to win this. If I don’t win it, I may just have to buy my own copy…

  29. SO I’m 42… lucky me…( age has NOTHING to do with it…. WAY OLDER). I love the idea of a marriage that deals to both the ideas and
    openings that keep experience in front and centre…. can do it now couldn’t with children attached! But I have a daughter who will probably live this line and scare the ____ out of me. Sounds like necessary reading for my own comfort zone!

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