With each rotation of my squeaky wheels I was closer to home. I had journeyed so far for so long, yet time had flown by like it always does, and I was suddenly nearing home turf. Memories drifted by. The crisp cold of the Andes Mountains, kids waving from dilapidated houses, guanacos fleeing and bounding over fences like oddly shaped ballerinas, thunder and rain storms raging in the tropics, getting soaked to the bone by giant warm drops, lightning bugs flitting around a small cabin in the dead of an Ecuadorian night. It was almost as if someone else, or something else, deep within, watched those memories float by, weaving a long and tantalizing tale spanning so many thousands of miles, places and faces. Utah and Idaho rolled quickly by, and just over those mountains and around the corner, I’d be home. The long wiggly line I had drawn across the continents was coming to an end.
It’s now been one month since I rolled down the driveway where dad taught me how to ride a bicycle and tie my own shoes.
With my family again, I wanted to hide from the world for a while, enjoy coffees with my parents, rest and sleep. I had just finished the biggest adventure of my life, and I wasn’t ready for the end. Everything was harder than I expected. I was so happy to be with my family, but was constantly tantalized by the memories of the adventure, the miles uncovered, the people unmet, the places yet undiscovered. The travelbug-blues set in with deep roots. But I knew in my gut it was time to ‘settle down’ and try to live a ‘normal’ life at least for the time being. I made a few plans and goals; I continued with the guitar, and even attempted to sing a couple of songs. I talked myself into waking up at the ungodly hour of 6:15am in order to have a leisurely breakfast in the dark early morning, read, write, or just sit and think. I was overscheduled on my initial return, and for weeks I struggled with having too much to do and too little time. My fantasies of returning home with nothing to do but write and rest were impossible to fulfill. But the mornings were a short reprieve from the world, the bustle and the noise, and in the quiet and misty still of pre-dawn in the Pacific Northwest, I had a few moments to sip my coffee by the glow of a fire and talk with dad about meaning and purpose. I was often hit by waves of nostalgia and sadness that the trip was done. I wasn’t ready to plan the next phase of the adventure- I just wanted to learn to be content being at home for a time. Soaking in the experiences I had just had.
School started. I was expecting semi-chaos and total exhaustion, but instead found my students to be nowhere near as tiring as the road, the constant travel and pandemonium that makes Latin America and adventuring so unique and special. My students were interested, engaged, and constantly asking, “When’s your book going to be done?! I have to read that book!”. Teaching became more rhythmic, and I even found myself wanting Sunday afternoons to turn to Monday mornings. In the classroom I was distracted from my geographical confinement and my spirits were lifted by their enthusiasm, humor, and hilarious Spanish mistakes. “Buenos dias senorita como esta muy bien y tu?”
I was home, and although this part of the trans-continental journey was done, a new kind of adventure was unfolding: an internal search and voyage, the space and time to reflect and decompress, and the beginning of a book- a travelogue- that would span the length of the Americas through space, time and self.
*Thank you all for your support!