Lately, I’ve had a hard time remembering that adventure is everywhere. This is probably due to the fact that as September 17, 2013 wandered by, I found it near impossible not to remember where I was one year prior: putting on a brave face while Megs and Noah packed Huckleberry Fit, while my parents supervised, Derby kept giving us more soda bread, and Lauren and Andy hid upstairs doing work to avoid the chaos. When adventure is so vivid, so palpable, and also so far removed, it clouds my day-to-day ability to see the actual adventures life offers.
And the truth is, adventure is never actually over. It doesn’t end. Heck, if my adventure was over I’d probably have written a book already – but one reason I’ve held off from more than research and scattered notes (and this blog of course) is the worry I’ll miss part of the story. Though the adventure feels over, clearly it’s not. But the feeling I’m left with after the curtain closed (and a sense of relief coursed through me) was that of intense longing and missing.
You’d think the worst part might have been being away from family and friends while on said adventure; it’s true, the lack of a familiar support system is rough. You’d think the worst part might have been being lost every single day and never feeling comforted unless an episode of This American Life was on; again, it’s true – the overwhelming sense of newness is dizzying. You’d think the worst part might be coming home and realizing you’re still you, and everything you were running from is still in your head whether you ran or not; it’s true, I wish the proverb “of the 36 alternatives, running away is best” had stood the test of time. To be fair, maybe it was the best of the alternatives – but running away still means coming home.
Despite all of that, the worst part of going on an adventure has been understanding the literally forward motion part is donezo. Yes, there is a book to look forward to. Yes, there’s a film. Yes, there are stories and memories that flood into me, and yes there are friends I made on the road who are irreplaceable and have changed my life for the better. But all of the motion is over. All the movement on the adventure has come to a close.
There is no more seeing the American landscape and comparing it to how my favorite writer, Madeline L’Engle, described it in The Moon by Night. There is no more comparing the landscape to Travels with Charley, either. There is no more hours on end staring wistfully out a window, knowing that for a few months it’s my job to think, to dream, to experience with an open heart. There are no more Indian reservations. No more surprising weather systems.
On September 17, 2013, I wrote Megan an angsty email:
I deeply, truly, madly want to be traveling the country right now. I want the possibility of anything to be palpable daily, I want newness to come in the form of landscape and cityscape and uncertainty and occasionally being a bit lost and frustrated but at peace knowing it’s all going to work out because darn it, it has to. I wish it was one year ago from today and we were wherever the hell we were doing whatever the hell we were doing.
Of course, this was a very “in the moment” feeling. One that was fleeting. My regular life is uncertain, curious and full of wonder (because we write our own biographies, we tell our own stories, and I ask this of my life, and tell it to my life). My regular life is full of symbiotic friends, of people who I love more than words can express, of do-gooding that one cannot do on the road.
Sometimes, I think 50/50 was as much about the adventurous spirit of America as it was about the dating. And sometimes, I think regular life is also as much about the adventurous spirit of America as it is about the dating. I try to remind myself of this when I feel like the adventure is over. All good things come to a beginning.
And in essence, the adventure is just getting started.