Party’s over

by Heather Vandenengel

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SAN FRANCISCO, CA — I’m flying back east tonight and will be in Boston tomorrow morning. It’s a tad surreal, this journey being over. Seventy-five days from Seattle to San Diego and back to San Francisco.

I’ve always loved, or at least appreciated, the highs and lows of travel. The gratitude when you can’t believe that you’re lucky enough to be here at this very moment (of all the places! of all the moments!); the frustration when you can’t believe you voluntarily put yourself in this very stupid situation when you could have been safe and comfortable at home. This pendulum has swung both ways on this trip. It’s been emotionally exhausting, but exhilarating, and I’ll miss the unpredictability of every day.

In the last six weeks, so many people have opened their doors, let me crash on their couches, beds and floors, cooked me dinner, shared stories and beers, showed me around their cities and towns and made me feel at home. I am forever grateful to all of them and am lucky to count them as friends, new and old.

I am ready to make myself a home. There was a moment when I was planting seeds in the garden in Salem when I realized I had volunteered on seven different farms and gardens in the last year but had never stayed long enough to see anything grow. I want to see things grow. (And I figure there’s still plenty of time for that.)

I really didn’t know what I was looking for (does anyone?) when I left. I found a whole lot, but more importantly, I think I’m closer than ever to knowing what I am looking for. It feels good, and I’m sure it will all change tomorrow.

Until then, thanks for listening.


Photo by Courtney Allen. Day One, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.