One year ago today, I watched the sun rise over the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was the start of a road trip without limits. I had no idea when or even where it would end.
One year later, now settled in Charlotte for the last three months, I’m still thinking a lot about that road trip. A day doesn’t go by when the skyline of Chicago or the shores of Maine or the volcanic waters of Crater Lake don’t flash like lightning inside my eyes.
I think a lot about me and my adventure, but I also think a lot about the people I found along the way. How I could never forget them.
And yet I do forget. In a strange certain way, I forget all about them.
I’ve forgotten all about you.
There were my friends and family, there were my faithful readers, and there were those totally random Couchsurfing folks. Each person contributed pieces to the continental puzzle of my road trip. I remain grateful for every couch, bed, coffee, meal, hike, and conversation. You changed me.
And yet for all the drastic change I’ve experienced in the last year, I tend to forget all of you have changed too.
Time didn’t stand still for you while I went wandering for 282 days. You changed, you grew, and your stories took epic turns just as mine did.
Three engagements occurred among those I encountered over the last year, including my own sister. It’s a strange joyous thing when someone decides to commit one’s life to another, initiating the merging process of two destinies into one.
I attended four weddings on my road trip — count ’em, four — and one other couple who hosted me were just recently wed. The concept of community and weddings were running themes for the road trip, and I imagine many of those stories will emerge in my eventual #RunningToBook (hashtag pending).
Five babies have been born or will soon be birthed to mothers I met on the road. That’s insane to me: five human lives who used not to exist . . . now do.
A year beyond the Grand Canyon and I’m struggling to find meaning and purpose in stability, and meanwhile these little humans are entering the planet struggling to sleep and stand and crawl. Someday they will struggle in a classroom and struggle beyond those four walls.
They will learn and change and grow, just as I have in the last year. Just as all of you have done, too.
Amid the angsty midst of reestablishing a life without moving, I apologize for forgetting about you guys and your own epic journeys. Journeys of marriage and parenthood and maybe even your own travels and wanderings.
I recently scrolled through all my contacts and reminisced over our shared time together on the road. I miss it. I miss you.
Today I’m reminded that a great story is so much bigger than a single road trip or even a single lifetime. Our individual stories are intersecting and collectively producing something beautiful. I hope I can offer something as beautiful to your story as what so many of you have already offered mine.
So, here’s to the continued journey — weddings, babies, standing and crawling, struggling and learning, staying the same and changing, fresh starts and all.
If we met on my #RunningTo road trip, share a story from our time together and/or how you’ve changed in the last year! Where were you then, and where are you now?