A year ago, I left.
Teary-eyed, crisp and empty journal in my lap, new gear with overlooked tags still attached and “I love you” post-it notes hidden in my socks. It was a start. Unplanned, unknown, un-everything. An empty calendar with days waiting to be scratched off. With an adventure sketched out and dreams of freedom, and piles of fear and anxiety there too. I cried and read “Where the Wild Things Are” on my first flight. And did the same on my last flight as well.
Cause, now… I am here. Stumbling for words when asked how it was, where I went, what I will do now and what I missed most. It was great. I went to Indonesia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Brazil, Italy, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Amsterdam. I don’t know what I will do now. I’m growing my hair out and thinking about California. I missed those I love the most. I missed the mountains of North Carolina almost as much as I missed those I love. And my dog, Henry. I missed him too.
I walked through the airport a little over a week ago, met my family with tears and squeals and an exhausted hug. I handed off my precious-green-companion-of-a-backpack… and looked over my shoulder long enough to see everyone else go their separate ways. The business man, the mother and child, the backpacker… they checked their email, hugged their spouse, ran to their next flight …. And I got in the car with my family. Moved from I, Me, My to Us, We, Everyone … and I made my way closer to home, to the mountains, to my roots and back to those I love. And, I closed the chapter on the greatest adventure of my life, so far. With new adventures around the corner, for sure.
Now (still) teary-eyed, and 8 journals later (with lots of torn pages and scribbles and names of friends and coffee stains) and very broken in gear and very well-read and wrinkled post-it notes… I am home.
There are lots of ways to measure time and growth and change. Months, days, hours, afternoons, the number of sleeps. Moons, tides, the length of armpit hair, the time it takes to run out of your favorite soap, the number of filled pages in a journal, the number of babies I helped deliver, the number of times I broke down, cried, laughed, ran. Thought I couldn’t do it, picked myself up again, the number of emails and skype dates and how long it takes a postcard to reach home.
There are lots of things I could try to measure right now. Try to reflect on. But right now, I am at the Outer Banks of North Carolina with 15 other family members. I am not measuring anything except for how much taller my little cousins have gotten since last year, how big the waves are and how many points we are at in a volley ball game. I’m measuring how much fun we are having by how hard we are laughing and how happy I am to see my family by how many times I smile while sitting in their presence.
It is good to be back.
While Watson is over, my reflections are not. I’ll keep blogging (may even create a new site) and will let you know when I publish my final report. Above all else, I’m writing to say thanks for your support, for your comments, emails and updates this year. For your prayers and hugs and friendship.
With love and more thanks than could be measured,