It’s been over a year since I hit the road & started vanlife (which reminds me, I meant to do a year recap…oops!). Even more specifically, 443 days.
I’m writing this at a truck stop about 500 miles from home, a much needed break in driving as I head back to West Virginia for an overdue visit. A lot of thoughts and emotions have been hitting me as I get closer to home, so please bear with me as I attempt to tame some of those thoughts into readable paragraphs.
This quote from one of my favorite reads ‘Desert Solitaire’ has been resonating hard:
“When I return will it be the same? Will I be the same? Will anything ever be quite the same again? If I return.” -Edward Abbey
Going home is bittersweet for multiple reasons, a large one being, nothing is ever quite the same again. Places are different, favorite businesses closed. People have aged- my mom, grandparents, all older. My best friends kids are growing up way too quickly, my little sister is engaged. No amount of pictures sent or facetime calls really prepare you for these inevitable occurrences. Time has passed, a fact that hasn’t escaped you (because obviously, you’ve been doing things in said time), but now you have to face all the things you’ve missed out on in that span.
Time to play catch up, and I’m thankful I get to do so. This just highlights the dilemma I find myself struggling with often- choosing between living my own life and experiencing the adventures I have, but at the expense of largely missing out on the lives of the people I care about most.
Reflecting on a different part of that quote, “Will I be the same?”. I’m certainly not, and I’m grateful for it. Upon beginning this trip last year, I wrote the following.
The goal is to road trip my way around the country for a full year. A year of adventuring of course (because YAY, adventure!), but more than that as well. I want to meet new people, learn important life lessons, grow as a person, and hopefully come out of this trip a far more fulfilled and well-rounded individual.
I can confidently say I fulfilled my original intentions- exceeded them, even. Countless beautiful places and entertaining stories to remember (many of which I hope to share in the future). 44,000+ miles driven, through 2 countries, 32 states. Some of these places were home to amazing adventures and memories, others may have been visited for a quick overnight sleep at a truck stop as I drove through, but either way a lot of ground has been covered in this trusty van.
I’ve climbed mountains, jumped in alpine lakes, soaked in hot springs, danced in the desert, explored slot canyons.
I’ve seen countless sunrises, sunsets, starry nights, and beautiful sights.
I’ve been blessed with meeting so many good people and forming friendships along the way, and also have found the independence and courage to do a great deal of things on my own.
I’ve had some of the happiest moments and greatest adventures of my life. I’ve also experienced fear, uncertainty, depression, loneliness, and sadness intermittently. I suppose that’s life regardless of how you’re living it- gotta be willing to take the bad with the good, yeah? Those hard times, as challenging as they were in the moment, are without a doubt where I grew the most as a person.
For a long time now I’ve felt torn- wanting to be east for the people and familiarity, but craving the adventures and freedom of the west. I’m not sure what’s next, I just know that in this moment, West Virginia is where I need to be. I don’t think I’ll stay, actually it doesn’t even seem possible- the open lands and big mountains and diverse landscapes of the west have too firm a grip on me and their call is too loud to ignore.
But for the moment… country roads, take me home.