Tomorrow at midnight, I will have been in this country for eleven months.
When my plane from London touched down last November, I expected to hit the tarmac running. I would race my way through the holidays, pausing only once or twice to breathe in the hot steam of a pumpkin latte. I would run an obstacle course of publishers, throw together an online platform numbering in the thousands, toss my lovingly polished memoir to print, and become a “real” writer. I would condense a life’s worth of habit into a few short weeks. I would do it all without truly touching the ground beneath my feet.
And I would be on a plane to South America by February.
This did not happen.
Instead I re-discovered home, and endless mugs of coffee, and the simplicity of being crunched onto a crowded couch.
I remembered what it is to wake up to the morning light lifting voices you love.
I discovered a river I had forgotten and followed it with a dear friend from the sea into the mountains.
I watched the most spectacular moonrise of my life cast shadows on the salt flats of Death Valley.
I found boats and rediscovered whales.
I published a book.
I moved to Alaska on a whim to follow orcas and fell in love with the glacier above them that moved from a lake of ice into the sea.
I watched the sun rise on the longest day of the year between a frozen lake and frozen mountains, with nothing but silence spreading out from my solo tent into miles of lonely wilderness.
I learned what it means to look in another person’s eyes and never want to look away.
I looked away.
I packed my backpack once again.
Adventure comes whenever you step outside of your usual pace. Note that I said pace, not place. In the place where I happened to be born I have had more adventures that I thought possible, but I have learned something too: It is possible to be centered and be loved, to have a home and also have a restless spirit. I came back to my family as a stranger after two years of living as a new person in South Korea and learned that love outpaces change. Home is here, in these relationships, and though I may hop onto a new airplane and not return in months, that home will never leave.
I will not make the eleven month mark in this country. Tomorrow night at 11:00 pm, I will board an airplane bound for New Zealand with my sister Michelle. We will spend 16 hours in Fiji and then land in Auckland to make our way down New Zealand before flying to Australia to find work on the Great Barrier Reef. I will write as I go, crafting a book that will follow a year of living in places that are the most transitory in the face of climate change: Glaciers and Coral Reefs.
There is a freedom in loving and it moves like wind, teasing out the edges of the sky until horizons shift as changeable as sails. The planet opens into the warmth of a thick hug, just out of reach, and I follow it with a smile as full as the light that flashes on the wind-tossed palm trees just outside the window of the coffee shop where I write these words.
This time, my backpack carries a tent and a camping stove. My feet are clad in hiking boots. This time, we will be guests in the wildness of a changing world.
And this time, I will travel knowing I am wrapped in love.
Where do you find love on the road? Comment below to share!