To be perfectly honest, I would have forgotten. Time flies by so fast that I literally lost track. Then, as circumstance has it, Facebook reminded me that is was two years ago on March 1st that I had my last day at work. It was my last day at the professional job I held for nearly four years. My house had been sold, I was deep into the process of selling my personal belongings, outfitting my Jeep and gathering those things I thought I would need to live on the road. I was nearing the end of my conventional life. I was ready to go.
Wow, two years. Two Years! That means, in about six weeks I will hit the milestone of that moment, that morning I left my house. No stickers on my top case, no real clue what I was doing, still green around the gills, and no idea what was ahead. I drove up the hill out of Pullman as the song “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance played on the radio. I set out for the adventure of a lifetime, the adventure of my life. I set out into the unknown.
And now here I am. I am working and exploring and learning and growing. I traveled and lived on the road for about a year before I started to stay longer and work seasonal jobs or volunteer as a way to live in a place, explore that place, and get to know that place. Before something changed. Before the road was just not the road anymore. Before something shifted.
Well, nobody could have predicted COVID. Nobody could have seen the change in the world, let alone the plans of little old me. I adjusted and reacted and did what I could, needed, felt was best. Nearly a year later, COVID still dictates many aspects of our lives and any plans we make are subject to the whims of this crisis. Yes, COVID changed how I move around in this world. COVID did not change my goals or my intention or the beauty of my journey. I am still a pilgrim.
Technically, right now, I am not “on the road”. Sure, I am without a home of my own, but I have a home in which to live. I have settled here in Big Bend National Park, Texas. I am literally moving my address, vehicles, perhaps even my storage unit to this place. Something about being here calls to me, beckons me to create a home, roots, belong. This feels right and feels like where I want and need to be. This desert challenges me and mystifies me and delights me. This is a place to which I am drawn. This is a place in which I want to spend time. Here is where I want to be.
I am not traveling like I was. I am not living in my tent. I am not moving from place to place or visiting people every few weeks. I am in a house, the Jeep has a garage and a name and I have disassembled some of her travel components so that I can take her off-roading. I have a community here to which I belong and people whom I connect with and appreciate. I generally like what I do and the people with whom I do it. Right now, this is working for me. Right now, this is home.
I do not feel trapped or restless or like I need to move on. I feel safe and excited with a sense of wonder and adventure. I can stay as long as I want, with no end date looming. I long to see the changes in the desert over the course of the next few months and I am bound and determined to live through the blistering summer heat. I want that badge like a notch on my belt – I lived for a summer in the desert! I want to experience an entire cycle, the patterns and the mysteries that continue to draw me in. I never, ever thought this girl of the North would be so enamored with the desert of the South. Oh, Texas, you have drawn me in. Oh, desert, you intrigue me.
Though I am somewhat stationary, my pilgrimage continues. I am given people and places and experiences that challenge me, force me to grow, and offer me opportunity to broaden my life experience. There is still pain and happiness and tears and laughter. There is still adventure and boredom and challenge and moments of pure bliss. There are still new things to see, do, experience, live. My journey has not stopped. My growth has not stalled. My pilgrimage forges on.
One can settle and not be settled. One can land and not get stuck. One can have routine and not be predictable. One can have a journey and not leave home. In fact, one can even have a home and still be on a journey.
I know this is not my stopping point. I know I am not done yet. Right now, I know this is home and this is where I will be until something in me says it is time to move on. The time to go will be as obvious as the time to stay. I will know when I am done here.
Cheers to the journey of life, to the journey of discovery, and the journey that has brought us to this very moment.
Carry on pilgrims, carry on!