It was my parents fault, really. They started it.
They set out as adventurers, living and teaching in the Alaskan bush before my existence was even a blush on my mother’s cheek. I lived there too, once I came about. I learned Yupik and wore muk-luks and parkas my mother sewed from animal skins. I still sing Frere Jacques in Yupik. We moved away when I was still very young, but my first memories of life are of villagers bringing in a whale and sled dogs staked out in yards. Legends from which I never recovered.
My parents were both teachers. As a family unit, we plowed through this great country of ours every summer, pitching tents and watching the Milky Way slip across the night sky. Merit was gained by who could read longer by the light of the moon. We fished and swam and laughed. Mom played the guitar, crooning folk songs the world forgot decades ago, while I burned their words and tunes into my heart. I decided at that point that I would carry my parents legacy, and throw my own flair on the back end.
I took up shooting competition pistol, and I was good. I was really good. It was an individual sport, and I loved that my success was totally up to me. I rocked the cover of a catalog, won awards and prizes, became sponsored, and traveled parts of the country.
Then I set a goal ~ Ride My Bicycle Across the United States. So I rode from Astoria, Oregon to Ocean City, New Jersey. When I saw the Atlantic Ocean, I cried. It was great, so a few years later I did it again. The second time I shaved my head and rode from Anacortes, Washington to Harpswell, Maine. At the end, I cried again…hard. I cried because I was so happy that I accomplished it, because I was so sad that it was over, because I didn’t figure out the meaning of life, and because I knew I couldn’t sit on the ground wherever I wanted or sleep outside every night. I tried, though. I slept in my tent at home for a while and eventually settled for sleeping in my sleeping bag on top of my bed. When driving to work, I’d find myself identifying good trees-bushes-air conditioning units-ditches where I could pee.
Okay, so I started feeling pretty good about my life resume, but the crying thing was addicting. I wanted to be that proud of myself again. I wanted to be part of something that blew my own mind, and I wanted that giant feeling to feel normal. I wanted to be vetted. I’d done this great thing twice, but the world kept delivering people to me who nonchalantly declared that they’d done that too…and some other awesome stuff. I knew I needed more. So I rode from San Diego, California to Crescent Beach, Florida. Crying commenced, feeling vetted did not.
I set more goals ~ Make it to every state before you turn thirty. It was quite the chore getting to Rhode Island, but I pulled it off, and with that trip I scored just enough frequent flier miles to go to Hawaii for free. My last state. I made it three months before my self-prescribed deadline. Triumph.
At that point I realized that no matter what adventure I embarked on or completed, it was never going to be enough for me. I had no choice but to continue. As I’d wished, this big feeling had become normal. My work was not a career, it was an agent which allowed me to live a relatively normal life while I planned my next early retirement.
In August of 2009, I went to the wedding of a college friend, and my life forever changed. I met a marvelous man there and since he came with references, we began dating the following week. His life resume echoed my own. He was in the Peace Corps stationed in Cameroon, Africa. He’d hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail with only his dog. A master of one-liners, he was impressive, kind, brilliant, and oh so handsome. Swoon. We hiked on nearly every date, and within two months, we’d backpacked in Yosemite and climbed the cables of Half Dome together.
We married in 2012, and he was my support and resupply team while I hiked 731.36 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016.
With The Wind At My Back, who knows which way I will head next.
Maybe I’ll build a raft and float it down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe I’ll keep riding my bicycle until I finish the perimeter of the United States.
…We Shall See…