I ran with mine. At some point in the drive, it became a part of me; it sunk into my skin- an attachment that wasn't going away so it's presence was just accepted. And slowly, it was less-so the fear of all of the above, and more-so the idea that if I let all of those things control my actions, I wasn't going to live. I was, in the physical sense, going to live probably, but I was taking years and happiness out of my life with all the stress. And now, when the amount of apprehension takes over, I start to feel nostalgic for the time on the road, when I summoned all my bravery and went because I needed to leave, just to come back with new eyes.
Some may call it irresponsible, that I took the small amount of money in my savings and drove alone with my dog for 9000 miles. It doesn't make sense to most of society; the idea of living out of your car and scraping by, just to see a different horizon. In my mind, it was the only option that was logical. I have no roots right now. I have few responsibilities that are tying me down to someone or something or anything, really.
Part of this trip was to prove to myself that I could be alone. Part of it was that I wanted to prove to others that I could be alone and travel solo. A lot of the reason why I traveled for so long was because I needed to feel the loneliness and the truth of witnessing something beautiful and being comfortable knowing that it was only me who has the memory of seeing it. Part of it was wanting to feel the sun make my face orange as it slips down the sky and having my hands on the wheel of the car. Selfishly wanting to be in control of my own future. And a lot of it was that I had some doubts to conquer: to be okay with not knowing where I'm going. to get lost. to live alone. to take a good, hard look at myself and decide if I like who I'm becoming.
I have met so many people who have just flat out encouraged me to keep going and telling me I was on the right path, even though I don't know where I'm walking. It's been this crazy search for myself and my place in the world and a small, naive part of me thought that I would answer all those 20-something-year-old questions. But instead of finding answers, I fell in love with places and pieces of people who I'd like to be more like. I fell in love with the ocean and the Sierras and the way I could sit on the cabin steps and watch the moon come up over the trees. I met people with beautiful tattoos and deep souls and incredible talent, all of which I think about often. But, I couldn't tell you where I'm supposed to end up, or who I'll be in 5 years or who I'll be in 1 year for that matter.
What I can sum up for you is what I've learned in 17,000 miles: The world is small, so be kind to people. Get to know people who are interesting to you. Life is too short to not tell the people who inspire you that they do so, so let them know. You can feel tangible freedom when you drive with your hand out the window on the highway. Look people in the eye when you tell them thank you. Listen to your gut. Sometimes you should make yourself a really nice dinner and drink a glass of wine and make lists of what you're grateful for. Running does wonderful things to your brain. Learn how to change the oil in your car and don't skip rotating your tires. Be barefoot as much as you can. I dare you to stare at a huge granite wall, or the ocean, or the layers of mountains in the horizon and feel like the earth revolves around you (I get so caught up in that thought, sometimes.) Put it in perspective and let the vastness swallow you for a couple minutes. Above everything and all: