When you turn things upside down, or inside out, is when you really understand what it looks like right side up. Sometimes.
Exactly 365 days ago, Kat, Nickel and I packed our bags into Vanessa and set sail with open hearts into a never-ending sunset. It took a long time, but we finally finished collating our pictures and had them printed into a two-volume photo book. There is a lot to see, and a lot to learn, after 24,851.2 miles on the road. Those are the exact figures from the honeymoon of a couple who declared independence from public norms and opinion, eschewed the modern and convenient emptiness of the soul, and succumbed to the romance of exploration via Volkswagen.
I have been terrible about writing up this experience, and analyzing what this all meant. I wish I could have told you as it happened, of what it felt like to grill your lunch in front of a massive and spectacular glacier. Twice. About seeing the wreckage of two fatal head-on collisions against semi-trucks, and thinking how there is more to life than being lucky. I wish I could have told you about the hitchhikers we picked up, and how shameful it is to be scared of other human beings. About that night we slept under the glow of the Aurora in the Yukon, shortly after almost hitting a wall of a hundred bison walking along a dark Canadian road. I couldn’t.
Because I felt like there were really only two other souls in the world that understood what it meant. And it almost feels sacrilegious to type it out, even if it’s just the internet. At the end of our trip, I was fond of saying that driving to Alaska and eventually the entirety of North America was anti-climactic. All we really did, was drive far. Every day. But of course, that was not the point.
I celebrated my birthday early, and had a visit yesterday from a mentor who continues to give Kat and I the gift of understanding Vanessa. Not just ‘understanding’ the quirks of an air-cooled engine – yesterday, I felt like we went full-circle. I realized that hidden in the frustrations of nurturing a relationship with a machine, lies an immense understanding of our relationship with the world, and how we choose to set ourselves free.
Like most other things, it only gets clearer as you put your heart into it. The world is out there, and we’d be fools not to dream – and even more foolish not to take that first step.