One Year On

Author’s Note:

It’s funny how time flies. I just stumbled across this entry that I wrote – but somehow failed to publish – in November of last year. I had completely forgotten about it. I thought I would share it with you. Better late than never, right?

Kait and I and all three of our dogs are alive and well. So are Jon Slater and his Old Brown Dog. As always, thanks for reading. There is more coming soon.

- John

From November, 2013:

And just like that, a year flew past us. Today Yesterday about two weeks ago, the one year anniversary of the end of our walk came and went with very little fanfare. It has now been more than one year, one whole trip around the sun since Kait and I took our last bittersweet steps into the Pacific Ocean. What were YOU doing on November 17, 2012? It was already a year ago, whatever it was. Now it’s the holiday season once again, and our thoughts are with all of the people in the world we hold dear. Last year, we spent our Thanksgiving in a San Francisco apartment full of friends both old and new, feeling particularly thankful for every little thing. And it has already been a whole year.

And now it’s confession time: I don’t really want to write about…this. I don’t want to write about how I feel right now, or how I have felt all year. That is why I haven’t updated the blog in months. I don’t want to write about the Walk and how I feel about it, because it’s like writing about a lover or a friend that isn’t here anymore. I don’t know how else to describe it. It aches my heart to miss the road and that panoramic life. Things just made sense out there, and every step led clearly to the next.

Off the road, progress is not always so clear. This has been a difficult year in the little island mind nation of John. When I look back from now through my memories to then, there is an undeniable sense of loss. Something is missing. I get lost in my mind sometimes, trying to find it. I think myself in circles. I will be walking with my dog in our vibrant little neighborhood, and looking up at the leaves as they shift from green to golden yellow and fiery orange, and they’re raining down around us as my feet and his paws swish and crunch and the smells are amazing, and I’m not even there. I’m in the middle of Iowa, watching the horizon for landmarks that I can use to judge distance and time. I’m in Utah, fighting with my past self as the sun grows the shadows long and sets the horizon on fire. I’m anywhere but where I am – trying to make sense of it all.

And then sometimes I come back, and I remember what’s important right now. The thoughts that bring me back from those endless loops in my head are almost always thoughts of appreciation – for my life, for my family, for my luck and good fortune to just be. I remember how fortunate I am that I have the time and energy to even worry about existential warbles. Free time to think about ANYTHING other than surviving is a luxury, and I am trying to not take it for granted.

So here we are. It has been about one year since we returned to our home in Louisville. Other walkers, trekkers, and travelers warned us over and over about the challenges of coming home after such an undertaking. We had many discussions about how much a person changes and grows on the road, how people coming back from Peace Corps missions often feel alienated and isolated once they get home, and so on. And it is safe to say, nine months into whatever this is, that coming home may well have been the biggest challenge of the entire walk.

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8 Responses to One Year On

  1. Gail Pigion says:

    Thanks so much for publishing this. We think of you and wish you well.

  2. John says:

    “And then sometimes I come back, and I remember what’s important right now.”

    Maybe the most valuable lesson of all. You will never know the total impact of the journey you and Kait set out on a few years ago, the lives you touched and the people you inspired.

    Namaste to you both

  3. Rebecca says:

    It was good to hear from you again. We faithfully followed you every blog of the way and I have to say, we, too, felt a sense of loss when it was done. Maybe some day, you can do it again with a different route. :)

  4. Mary Lou says:

    I just checked this email account and saw your post. I have had you both (and dogs) on my mind quuite a bit recently.. and was trying to think of how long ago it was. HArd to believe it is almost 2 years. I can totally understand your feelings.. I hope the adjustment is a bit easier now. Have you thought of writing a book?

    I found out about your walk originally through Benoit Denizet-Lewis, whose book I am reading now, “Travels With Casey”. He mentioned you and Kait and your undertaking in one of his blog posts while he traveled in his RV.

    It did my heart good to see this update. I am happy to see that all are doing well.
    I think I may have to go back and read each of your blog posts, one each day to bring back the awe and amazement I had at your journey.

    Thank you for the update

  5. Gary Mitchell says:

    It does seem to fly by, I know it has been a year and half since my last walk. I will be finishing my walk in the spring of 2015.

    Hope you decide to write a book about your walk.

  6. Amy Kratz says:

    John and Kait, I’ll never forget meeting you in Lewes 3 miles into your walk in the Zwannendale Park. I was compelled to ask you what you were doing and I followed you every journal entry, with my coffee in the morning. I was happy for you hat you could touch so many peoples lives, that you were safe, and that you accomplished such an incredible goal. You are fortunate to be able to walk across the country or even think that you could is astounding. I think your writing is amazing and I love to read your entries. They are fresh, smart and honest. So show the world what you showed your bloggers it is a bestseller. The journey is just beginning.

    Amy

  7. Wayne Savage says:

    As your feet walked into the wet of the ocean and your pen ran dry under the settlement of home, I felt like I lost you.
    I was only physically with you for a couple of hours but you were like food to my soul, you owned my mind. I kept thinking about, reading about and talking about you John, Kait, Max and Grace who had already walked nearly 500 miles when you walked into my world. I never met Jenny but I took to her as the new puppy under the tree on Christmas morning, We loved her back as she loved you more for saving her life and taking her on and adventure of love beyond all horizons. As you found food and shelter, as you camped in tents and slept on floors, as you ate in restaurants and in family homes, as you walked and walked and walked I felt that I was there with you without the blisters and pain (I was homeless for four years as a young adult traveling the country and although I never walked the country and never had but a small handful of people helping me out I could relate to the pains of the road).

    I wanted more. Your stories were as captivating as the gravity holding you to the path in which you stepped over dirt, glass, asphalt and concrete. I wanted more. I wanted a book. I wanted NPR. I wanted you to walk home. You’ve earned my respect, my admiration and my appreciation. Thank you for the shared experience. Good luck in life. Whatever you do, don’t, under any circumstances, show up and ask me if I want to go for a walk but do stop in and rest your feet, nourish and replenish. You all are always welcome. Peace be with you always.

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