After a few weeks of mostly blissful rest and relaxation, I returned home today full of a bizarre mix of refreshed energy and utter disquiet. Having been surrounded by people about whom I care a great deal for weeks on end, my personal gas tank is full of many positive things. I am determined to hold on to these feelings of gratitude, peace, comfort in my life-stage (even amid a great deal of ambiguity), the love of and for friends and family, and the confidence that I can pull off a life in this world remaining true to who I am while flying solo. That last part is the source of my disquiet and my greatest hurdle, as I have not found the right balance yet among challenging myself to re-examine not only my priorities but my whole value set, (re)defining myself where necessary, and giving myself permission to have new experiences outside of my (former) comfort zone. Yet I am getting there the way a start-up enterprise does: first I crawled, now I am walking, and, soon enough, I will be running.
These last few weeks along that walking journey have been amazing. After a quick drop-off of a boy and a dog in Florida, the first stop on my journey involved settling Petunia into summer camp at my prep school alma mater. Wrapped up in concern over getting her and her stuff settled into the space, I had not prepared adequately for an unexpectedly emotionally-difficult journey to this place, my favorite on earth, where I met her father, where we became engaged, and where we married. It is hard to reclaim space for oneself when so many memories there are shared ones. Fortunately, a dear friend who also has gone through a difficult life transition had shared with me a Hawaiian ritual called hoʻoponopono, a way of making peace, in a sense -- and I decided to use it with this, my beloved space. I walked around for a couple of hours in the gloaming, respecting my feelings, thinking about forgiveness, finding gratitude, and remembering the love I feel for this place that engendered in me both deep curiosity and love of learning which remains at the heart of my takeaways from there.
It always felt like home, and it still does.
Next, I traipsed around Boston and surrounds for a few days, seeing friends here and there, joining one for tea in the courtyard of the Boston Public Library. I had not seen her in 18 years, and it felt like so little time had passed. I cherish moments like that -- those reminders of connectedness with friends who have left an imprint on our hearts that time and space does not alter.
From Boston, I headed North to my favorite place on this earth, the brave little state of Vermont. Nearly two years ago, Hurricane Irene destroyed part of my beloved Vermont town, including its covered bridge. It was a pleasure to see it rebuilt:
And to see the beautiful Ottaquechee River raging on:
I love the reflection of the trees on the glassine water.
After a quick stop in Hanover, New Hampshire for a coffee at the Dirt Cowboy Cafe, birthplace of the novel that I am working to finish, I headed back to Boston for a flight back to Florida, where I really really really did not want to get out of the Atlantic Ocean. Noted, the green room is more mud-brown, and there were a scary lot of jellyfish my last day in the surf, but oh! to have warm water in which to swim, boogie-board, and surf regularly! While my hair may hate it, my overall opinion of Florida in the summertime has been turned on its head. Mom, Dad, see you next July, right here:
My adventures wrapped up in Marin with some friends sharing a house in celebration of one's 40th birthday. Yesterday, we took a two-hour hike that became a four-hour hike, but it was so worth it. Look:
I am home now. I am tired. I am happy. And I am planning my next adventure already with a full heart and a whole lot of stuff on my mind that I have yet to hike enough to clear out of the way. My favorite book in graduate school was a conversation between educators Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, titled "We Make the Road by Walking," and that phrase has remained among my personal mantras. But after spending a weekend with a new friend who is an ultramarathoner, I am thinking that running is not so bad. One covers more ground that way. And if I do not take up running, well, flying will work. Seven planes, five states, and more friends and family than I can count on my fingers and toes ... My gas tank is full, and the open road awaits.