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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