The first of this round of stories and quips:
And so it begins, the organization of my life into boxes vs. backpack. Will I need This in the next two months? I have no idea. I feel that vague excitement of all that I don’t know. Practicing my español, collecting climbing beta, digging out summer clothes- all of it is like a nesting instinct but for travelling.
There was a long period in my life that wrapped itself around travel. During these years, I floated (ran), unattached (detached) and exploring (looking wildly for Something). The world around me was in constant movement and it felt safe. When the music is so loud and the skirts twirl so fast, it is much easier to make sense of the white noise that rises to the surface. I can see now that all of that instability formed me into the woman I am- I know my shit and I am still looking like everyone else, as Sam Comen once put it.
While I was busy racking up the sum total of my young life, I shied away from attachment and deep connection like it was that kissing disease your friends got in high school. Mono, was it? Yea, mono. Lucky for me, however, there are people on this planet that saw through the part that screams, I KNOW MY SHIT, and loved me for the child that was still searching. How lucky are we that there are people like that. People like Melody Mo, who curled up with me on the back bench of a terrible, bumpy 12 hour bus ride to Bamako after a two day ferry trip out of Timbuktu, during which I barfed off the side of the boat… on Christmas. Or Greg Washburn, who gave me my playa name, Pan, and made sure to give a sincere goodbye on my final foreseeable departure from the Burning Man’s BlackRockDesert. Lorraine Ishak, do you remember mobbing through Lesotho in your lovely Rover to collect the Nik from Cape Town? South Africa would not have been the same if not for you two being there to put up with me. How did I get so lucky to have met all of these incredible humans?
As I write these words, a hundred faces rise to the surface of my memory and I am stunned with emotion and pure loving gratitude. Gratitude for all the moments that became stories, that become memories, that are now part of my flesh and bone. Thank you for being part of my tribe. Thank you for being a part of where I am now, my past and my future adventures; all of them, from love, to South Africa, to Connecticut, to choosing to set roots over moving again, to surviving the wilderness. Even, a -20 degree week on trail with Wade Landon when I got frost bite. Crazy.
Once upon a time, the stories I collected were more clear and pre-told in my mind. Now, it seems, those distinct floor boards of life are getting worn away; covered in snow, sand, river water, and various forms of smelly wilderness-play gear. What once seemed a peak experience can eventually become part of the scenery, another stitch in the breathtaking life we are busy living.
Maybe that is why this upcoming international outing feels extra different. I mean, we all greet every bout of travelling from its own unique launching point: it’s that whole you never step in the same river twice sort of deal. True, yes. And, yet… beyond two months in Chile (where, I dunno I’m going to live on a farm and stuff) my future is entirely unknown and in the hands of graduate school admissions. For the girl that lived life finessing things to go her way, this is very humbling. There is no real finessing of those bastards ‘cept with cold hard cash and influence, two things that grow in short order out of Bakersfield, CA. I haven’t felt so humbled and less in control in a long time- no expectations, no ability to form more than cursory plans, fueled by enough experience to demonstrate that it will be exactly what, where, and how it needs to be. I have nothing to prove with my Grand Adventure de Chile, finally. Exhale. My trip to Chile, and my future, has me on the edge of my seat and, somehow, sitting relaxed. Finally.
Is it just me or have you ever lost track of yourself? Taken one or seven ill-thought out turns, started wandering and when you looked around again, you were like; wait, that’s not what I meant to happen. Yea, me too (or seven). Center can be a hard place to find if you’re walking on your hands without realizing the world looks a little downside-up. This is not where I ramble off with advice, don’t worry. Screw advice, pardon my French. I guess sometimes I just like to sit and smile about how cool things can be and how I still have no flippin’ idea about anything. And maybe that resonates with the What’s, Where’s, and How’s of your life.
But, enough about how incredibly unique and interesting I am… How are you? I mean, really, how? As I await that response:
I hope you sit for long periods of time doing nothing. No more than staring at a wall, a sunset, the hands of a loved one. I hope you listen more to what surrounds you and less to what envelops you. When you get up in the morning, I hope you have time to yawn and stretch. I hope you read more. I hope you tell more people you love them. I hope you fight and do not accept; that you swim through the mud to the nirvana on the other side.
In the meantime, oh man, how I love you, you beautiful sparkly human that has allowed me to know you.