Here I am back in Alabama, where I started from on April 1. I intended to do more posts from the road, but was simply exhausted most of the time. As appealing as full-time travel sounds, it appears that that may not be my intended end. At least not for now. I loved the entire trip, but spent most of the second half of it feeling run down and unable to fully recover. Now, after almost a week back home my head is starting to clear. And so it is that I’m now sitting here trying to put together something coherent to sum up the last two and a half months. I believe I’ll end up doing more posts, possibly on each of the places I stayed (especially since I didn’t write about Hawaii at all), but for now this is all I can focus on.
I took an 80 day tour of the country and found myself in the end. The last line of This Side of Paradise rings in my head, “I know myself, but that is all.” But I’m not sure I even know that. The terror of change, any change, more or less ruled my life for as long as I can remember. I tried to get used to it as a child by rearranging things in my room, but whenever I did I wouldn’t be able to sleep for days. The desire for adventure, however, was always there, I was simply afraid to grab it and run. Now, after forcing myself onto a series of buses, planes and trains, I come out of this adventure with less fear and more hope. What else could I ask for?
So, the final numbers for the trip:
- 80 Days
- 12 cars
- 10 trains
- 9 planes
- 8 buses
- 3 boats
- 22 states + DC
- I wish I had taken pictures of the hand soaps at each place I stayed. I have no idea why I have this inclination, but it came up about halfway through the trip. I believe Method brand products led the way.
- I never once sat next to a pretty girl during any leg of the trip. I did, however, get seated next to a large percentage of middle-aged white men who were more than happy to tell me very detailed accounts of their lives up to this point.
- I had no missed buses, planes or trains, and for this I am very grateful.
- I have amazing friends. I only wish some of them were closer. I do not believe any of them are within a 15 hour drive.
- It is fascinating to see how differently people live. Everyone has the same number of hours in a day and everyone manages to find widely differing ways to use those hours.
- You learn a lot of new things about friends when you live with them, even just for a couple days.
- Everyone should get out of their comfort zone for long periods of time.
- There is beauty everywhere. Even here in Alabama.
This trip was about the past and dealing with the past, as is my ongoing 13 years project. Each are two halves of a whole. 13 years, done by going through 13 years worth of journals – thoughts, pains, joys, inner monologues and raw performances. This trip has been the outside world – old family and friends, old places and memories – and making peace with it, letting go of it.
I met up with grade school friends, high school friends, college friends, former coworkers, friends of the family, and let go of all former incarnations of them in my head. That’s great and all, but what does it leave us with? For most of the trip it left me with sever fear and anxiety as everything I’ve known, as I’ve known it, is gone. Conversely, it has now left me with wide open eyes, looking at the 99.9 percent of the world I’ve never known or experienced, waiting to be discovered. But for now, sleep.