We pulled out of Portland last Monday morning, our car packed to the brim, the gray skies spitting rain. We cracked the windows and the dogs pushed their noses into the open air, panting happily.
Bear smelled the whole northern U.S.
The time was here, the time to leave, but it just felt like we were going on a road trip. Similar to my last day of work, setting off on the road didn’t feel like the momentous occasion it was. It just felt like a slightly different Monday.
But I was feeling good, emotionally stable, no tears as we pulled away. An hour into our drive my friend Wendy sent a text: Most people think it’s just a rainy Monday, but I know the real reason Oregon cries today. Then I lost it, bawling as we sped east down highway 84. I cried for everything we left behind.
But there was no turning back and so we drove 2,680 miles, a whirlwind tour through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and then Ohio. Home, but not home. Ohio: where my roots are but not my heart.
A morning drive through Montana
Every time I come back to Ohio I find myself losing myself just a little bit, reverting back to the person I used to be at 19, less self-assured, a square peg in a round hole.
It scares me to not have Oregon to return to, the place where I can regroup and go back to life as I know it. But my life is on the road now, and I am trying to find my footing. I guess that is a part of travel, even if you are traveling in a not-so-foreign place.
But it’s not bad, really. We’re staying with Brian’s parents and they have been wonderful to us. The dogs seem to be adjusting well. We’re spending quality time with our nephews and niece and they are adorable. And we’ve got a packed schedule visiting old friends and family. I’m excited to catch up with these people that I love.
Brian with his dad and brother
Bear adjusts to her new home
But my heart is aching for Oregon, as it always aches when I am in Ohio. And I’m dreading the day we leave the dogs. So I feel like we are in a half-life. Not yet traveling and not home anymore either. I try to remind myself to breathe, to be patient, and to enjoy the moment as it is upon me. I am mostly failing at this.
On our ride out to Ohio we spent a non-driving day in South Dakota visiting Mt. Rushmore and Badlands National Park. As we discovered the battered landscapes of the park I was reminded just how fun it is to explore, with no timeframe and no agenda. It was our first true taste of freedom, a glimpse of what will come, and it felt exciting and free. We repeated to each other, like a mantra, this is what our life will be like. That freedom is what I wait for here in Ohio; the freedom of new places.
Brian in Badlands National Park
This weekend we are headed to New York City. I’ve never visited and want to see this great city in the U.S. before we see the other great cities of the world. If you have tips on cheap places to eat and drink I’d love to hear them.