I hesitate to speak of all the setbacks we’ve encountered over the last month for fear their retelling will somehow shake me more than their physical experience. From the last few days in Houston, as the Biblical rain set in and we dragged the remainder of our drenched belongings into the various vehicles and storage areas, to the constant plague of mechanical trouble along the road, the traffic, the lost tires and car batteries, the hole scraped in the side of the trailer before we even got out of the South. All of these pieces sacrificed on the altar of the interstate.

Then, worse: the terror of being stranded in the dark night in the middle of a foreign road with a mangled and ruined transmission as semi-trucks barreled past, followed by the shock of the trailer slipping off the RV hitch in the road…twice…amidst a spray of sparks and screeching metal. All of this effort and sleep loss and stress mounted into a single chant: get to Connecticut. We just need to make it to Connecticut. Everything will be fine if we just get there. All my hopes were pinned on this safe haven we would soon learn did not exist. At the end of this long and terrible road of logistical nightmares lay an unfriendly reception of distrust which, once again, changed all of our careful plans. My mind has already started the process of smoothing the details into acceptable blurs and pastels (as it so reliable does with all the painful, wretched parts of our lives which should become our past post haste) so that I can begin to move again; to rebuild and create.

Iceland acted as a welcome stopgap to this weary calamity but there were just as many problems patiently waiting for our return. And the high of Iceland seemed merely to serve as an underscore for our sullen circumstances and sharpen the disparity between what we’d hoped for New England and the reality we’d encountered. We shamelessly wallowed for the first couple weeks back, and the bad news continued to roll in. Nothing was as it was promised or planned.

Last Friday, I had to drive a 5 hour round-trip to Albany to pick up a camera lens I’d shipped to the only person I know in New England since I still don’t even have an address. I put off leaving until well after noon since I was dreading the drive and searching for any flimsy reason not to go. Alas, I could find none so, I packed up, sucked it up, and headed out.


Along the way, I rediscovered some old CD’s I’d burned over the years and let the lovely strands roll over me as the road unfolded beneath me. I took an unknown path and began to revel in the curving side-lines of pines and evergreens. The clouds conspired and a soft snow began to fall, still enchanting to a life-long Southern girl.


And suddenly, I felt it: that old-time feeling I’ve searched for, in vain, for so long. In that instant, I was more myself than I’d been in the last thousand days. The euphoria was all around me and I could have driven straight to Canada if the fair wind had it’s way. Somewhere in the middle of my excuses and preoccupation, something changed, and all the wrongs righted themselves. I reached once more that blissful state I can only liken to a spiritual meditation I sometimes get on road trips as the land unfurls and the scenery flirts with my curiosity and imagination. A trance-like focus enfolds me and everything is thrown into sharp relief: the events of the last month are analysed and laid to rest. This is the state where problems are solved and blog posts are written – a place where anything is possible and you’re exactly the person to take it on. It’s as close to flying or heaven as anyone is likely to get on earth.


I recognized that this long, solo drive was exactly what I needed – a retreat. With all the anguish of the last several weeks cornered and categorized, I was finally free to remember why we did this: why we took everything in our lives and uprooted it and changed it and tore it apart and left it behind… it’s all for this. For this feeling. For seeing new things, for getting lost in the scenery. And instead of the way I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks – as if this was the biggest mistake of my life and our life – I can finally see that it was also the bravest thing we could have done. I’m reminded once more that this took (and continues to take) a great deal of courage and, even if we fail and give up and go home, it was worth it because we came and we tried. And all of it was worth it just to feel this way again… this wild freedom, this peace of soul.

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