Farewell to the Open Road
20 000 Kilometers
1 Vincent Van-Go
I’ll never forget it…that late March morning, the air cold enough for me to see my own breath. We had both said goodbye to our parents and were running back and forth between our houses that sit directly across the street from one another to gather the last few things we needed before setting off: some silverware, a pair of scissors, my headphones. I remember us listening to Bob Dylan as we watched our city disappear in the rear-view mirror. I remember sitting in the interrogation room at the Holton, Maine border… a cold, white, stone room with handcuffs bolted to the bench I was sitting on, the officer writing every word I spoke on a yellow flip pad notebook. I remember feeling like a criminal even though I had nothing to hide. I remember Morgan motioning for me to hand over my passport and saying, “you’re going to lose this” as she safely tucked it in her own case. I remember our very first meal on the road, if you can even call it that… a spread of plain triscuits, sliced mozzarella cheese, and blueberries. But most of all, I remember how I felt that day. The stress of weeks of planning suddenly behind me and replaced with an anticipation and wonder for the adventures that were ahead of us.
That day was only three months ago but it feels much, much longer than that. Despite how confidently I would reassure my somewhat concerned parents that “it's fine, so many people are doing this”, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. These months haven't been absent of struggle. We've had to work through things beyond our control: breakdowns, weather, financial strain, and even worse, things within our control: selfishness, pride, and fear.
It's been humbling, friends. Very, very humbling.
But for every hard day and every painful lesson, there seems to have been an abundance of blessing. Our van has been filled with endless laughter, the laughter that makes your jaw hurt. It's been filled with rich and deep conversations that have gotten us through the long days of driving. It's been filled with awe and wonder for places we've passed by and explored and memories we've gathered forever to remain deep in our hearts. Landscapes that hold a beauty unmeasurable, people whose stories have left us inspired and enlightened, random encounters for which I'm still asking myself "how did that really happen?".
One day when I'm sitting on a dated, floral couch with my grand-babies, I will sure have some stories to tell. I can't possibly summarize the last three months in one journal entry, but I have no doubt that stories will resurface in their time, and I'll be glad to share when they do.
I have over twenty thousands photos stored on my hard drive from the last three months, and when trying to decide what images to upload to close this post, I found myself selecting almost exclusively photographs of faces. Over and over again, I am reminded that the thing that made this journey so rich wasn't the mountains or the freedom or the adventure, it was the people we met along the way. Those who impacted our lives in the the most hidden and significant of ways.
To the ones who opened their doors and hearts to us, to the mechanics and strangers who helped us get our van back on the road, to family and friends who have been standing behind us and praying for us along the way, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'll never be able to express what it has meant to me, and I love you. All of you.
As we drive the last hours back home tomorrow and this dream comes to a near close, new dreams are stirring in my heart. I thought this road trip was the finale, but I now have this feeling it was only the warm-up.