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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The morning arrives and I find myself alone once again. Seemingly stranded in unfamiliar territory with only a loose plan of where to go and what to see next, I hit the wall really hard. During the course of my trip, I've been successively coming into and out of the lives of my family and friends. Of course, as one would expect, each reunion is a wonderful thing, and the time spent together catching up is even more rewarding. But, due to the nature of any long distant trip, a trip that takes one far, far away from home, the time quickly ticks by to the moment when you have to say goodbye. I have had to say so many goodbyes, too many quite frankly. As I add each and every goodbye to my growing pile of melancholy, I feel the unstoppable tearing of my heart only grows longer, deeper, and more painful.

Perhaps it's normal to feel this way on such long trips, I'm not sure. I've never spent so much time on the road alone, and in so many new places. In-between time spent with familiar and loving faces, I spend the lionshare of my trip alone. There has been so much time to ponder things; life, career, relationships, even God. Everything in moderation as they say, so maybe spending too much time alone, as I chase my thoughts with each paved and passing mile, I carelessly tip the scale, further upsetting some sacred, holy balance.

From day one of this trip of mine, I've been waiting for some sort of revelation to happen, patiently hoping for the appearance of some kind of spiritual signpost that'll point the way to my salvation. Sadly, no such insight has been received, all I've found so far is utter silence.

I think I've done my part. Stripping myself in preparation for some needed changes in my life, I've tried to let go of all the things that I once thought would make me happy, the things that have ultimately held me down. No more house out in the lonely suburbs, no more $1700 mortgage, no more career in computers that, for a long time, has offered absolutely nothing but a good paycheck, the list goes on and on. I'm living not on, but rather, near the cutting edge of life right now, traveling, waiting, searching, seeking. At times there is absolutely nothing under my feet, I'm flying, but to where I do not know.

And, of course, there's a girl back home who's been on my mind. The problem is, she doesn't know what she wants, and may very well be leading me on, perhaps only doing so to cultivate my attention and interest. There's no use trying to make sense of it though, doing so only leaves me feeling uncomfortably neurotic. I've tried to push her out of my mind, but, I keep letting her back in. Too much time alone will do that to you, you get weak, you surrender.

So, here I am, sitting in my van in, of all places, a Wal-Mart parking lot, pondering my future. I begin to entertain thoughts of scrapping the balance of my trip and heading back home to Portland, OR. I figure, what's the use, the trip has run me into a dead-end, or rather, has not lead me to a good mindspace, to the peace of mind that I've been looking for. So, maybe it's time to return home to regroup and rethink my plan of attack.

I take my mind off things for a while, I have lunch with my new-found friend, Brian. I met Brian more than two months ago in Yellowstone National Park while hiking Bunsen Peak. We're both from Portland. Brian, however, is from the state of Maine. We thought it a funny coincidence, at the time. We stay in touch via email and when I arrive in Portland, ME, we make plans to meet. Given my current frame of mind, I don't think to snap a picture of Brian in the restaurant, so his Yellowstone picture will have to do.

It is good to see Brian again, however, our lunch goes by way too fast, and in the end we find ourselves exchanging goodbyes once again. Feeling sufficiently drained at this point, I go back to the van and place a call to my family to get some support and advice. As luck would have it, my sister, Gretchen, answers the phone. I tell her all about how I'm feeling and my idea of immediately returning back to Portland, OR. She listens to me and after a little pause, gives me the best advice she's ever given me. She tells me I should never make an important decision when under a great amount of stress. She suggests I give the trip another week. If, at the end of the week I still feel the same, then and only then, should I return back home.

I hang up the phone, then think for a while about her advice. How many times in the past have I made important decisions when my mind was very cloudy? Yes, I have made such decisions in those kinds of circumstances, and usually I've cut off my nose to spite my face. Certainly not a good way to live one's life, eh?

So, I take my sister's advice to heart, I'll give my trip another week. The funny thing is, all of today's introspection has really forced me to analyze the true motivations behind all of my traveling. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that the trip is much larger than me. It's more than just me going around, seeing new things, experiencing new places, and meeting new people. It's all about bringing you along with me through my website. I'm now finally coming to the understanding that without my website, I don't think I would have lasted this long out here on the road; more than three months have passed since I started on July 8th.

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