The end of an adventure is always difficult. You must marry what was with what is to come and hope that balance lies between. You say a quiet thank you for the moments of peace you found along the way and ready yourself for a return to the life you left behind. If I could do it again I think I would give myself just a little more time, an interim in which to bolster my resolve. Alas, I returned too quickly to the toil and I suffered for it.
After Jorge and I reunited and I slipped my hand back into his, we turned in unison to face the oncoming trials. My feet were ready to run as the ground rose to meet them. I lived, worked, and moved within a few square miles. I rattled the bars of my self-made cage and quelled my raging spirit with reminders of why this must be. A chant began in my mind as I worked drone-like through the hours. Australia. Every wish made on an hour or an eyelash all the same.
My bear and I move into an apartment together. We tentatively begin building a life one piece at a time knowing that we will soon have to leave it all behind. We sell all of my old furniture to make way for things that will be just ours. We nest. We adjust to cohabitation with hardly any companionship. We see each other little as our hours differ. We see each other less as we both acquire other positions that will help fill our pockets. The majority of our quality time is spent, exhausted, on the couch with Netflix and delivery for company. Had our pillows not been found in the same bed we might never see each other.
My time is anything but my own. I try to balance responsibilities, loyalties, and obligations. I swear that I do not belong to them, and yet I do. I wake. I work. I come home. I wake. I work. I come home. I stare into the oblivion of this semi-life and wonder. It is easy to exist this way. I could develop an affinity for the small successes and accomplishments offered through job fulfillment. I could take the easy route, let go of the dream and launch myself forward into a career that would welcome me. I could tell myself that I would find time for adventure later and sink roots for the life of now. Rather, I harden my resolve against this and remember who I am and who I want to be.
Two years. It is the deadline I have given myself. In my head, this is the time needed to save what I hope will be enough and maybe a little more. I just have to make it two years. I remind myself that time ebbs forward and away, turning an eon into a blink, and find my resolve. I adjust my focus, narrow my vision, and put on my big girl panties.
Days and weeks drift into a blur. My daily uniform varies little, changing only as I shift from one job to another. My closet is full of clothing carefully selected to make me feel womanly and light; I never wear any of it. A moment without work is rare. If this is my life for the moment, I suppose it will do. This is a tunnel and all tunnels eventually end.
The mysterious marsupial pocket.
I look down to find myself paddling in a canoe. My love is either behind or ahead of me depending on the day and the distance seems greater with each moment. We row together. We row towards land. We stagnate without stopping. We drift in endless repetition, stroke after stroke seeming to bring us no closer to our destination. We reach out to find that one has little to offer the other as we have given everything to the task at hand. It is a powerful sorrow to know how easy it is to grow distant in the company of another. Our focus is ahead, not beside.
In the midst of this terrible stagnation, my spirits begin to fall. Fear settles in my heart as I reach out for my Bear and find him absent, a candle burned at both ends barely sputtering with life.
Alas, something wonderful happens. I find a deal. I select a date. I purchase tickets. It is real. We are going. I look into his eyes and smile. Soon, my love, it will be time and we may lay our burdens down.
The date is important. We will arrive on my father’s sixty-second birthday. I will celebrate his life by being the master of my own. I will offer this year, this journey, to him as I offered the previous one to my mother. I will honor the great stalwart mountain of my life by gathering moments of pristine beauty in my hand like so many pebbles. This is for you, thank you for the life you have given me.
The days tick slowly by and I think the moment will never come. We work to the very last. We sell everything we can and donate what we cannot. We condense two lives into one room. We choose what we think we need and cannot believe it is so much. We research vans and 4x4s and utes. We prepare ourselves as best we can for a year to be spent with no one but the other for company. We hope for adventure.
On the day of American independence, we take ours as well. July 4th, 2016. Jorge’s family plans and executes the most wonderful celebration. Their house quickly fills with iconic Antipodean imagery. Australian flags waving in lieu of American. Orchid arrangements with koalas climbing their stems. Cookies stamped with kangaroos and outlines of that distant land mass. My family and his swarm around us wishing us well and trying to instill us with confidence that comes with the promise of help on our home shore. Friends mingle with relatives and love envelopes us. It is truly wonderful. When I am alone I weep with joy.
A van to call home.
There are twenty-four days between the moment we took our freedom and the moment we boarded our flight. They are important to me and terribly precious. I am forever thankful to my parents for putting up with us on our cross-country trek. They planned and executed the most wonderful journey. They brought us all the way to California and left us to find our way. Jorge slipped his hand into mine and we walked together towards adventure.