It is almost crippling to think that a year ago this month, I was taking a leap into what would become the best experience of my life of yet. Not one single day goes by that I don’t think about those 2 months. It is funny because looking back the reality of that trip was that I was freezing my butt off, desperately missing home, crying through forests, mountains, and canyons as they passed and thinking very lovingly violent thoughts about what I wanted to do to Finnley. All I wanted was to get home to my mama and my kitty and my home states deliciously hot weather.
So funny (the jokes on me) that not until I got home did I realize and find a million fantastic secrets about myself that I wish I had known then, but the thing is I would have never opened that door and found those things without taking the leap.
Travel has always been something I have lusted after above all things even writing. In my quaint little home, on my quaint little street, in my quaint little city, I always felt trapped. The family vacations to the same 3 destinations my whole life just weren’t doing it for me. I needed mountains in my life. I needed lakes and forests of pine. I needed more.
Naturally when I got a job the first thing I did was save to do so. Even before it all I went to California, Florida’s hot older sister state. I saw mountains, REAL MOUNTAINS, for the very first time. I spent 10 days with Finnley, both of us in what seemed like a perpetual state of awe. To this day California melts my whip cream heart into my hot chocolate veins. That was the trip that sparked Finnley's interest in travel and confirmed everything I knew about what kind of life I needed to live.
When we left a year ago today, I was terrified. I finally handed myself what I always wanted and had no clue how to use my freedom. I let small details ruin moments, I let the cold freeze possibilities, but I also let myself feel lost when I had no idea that I was. All I could see was the horizon, a figurative destination, not knowing how to get there or what would even happen when I arrived and it hit me; this is a good thing. But it wasn't until I got home and everything in my brain started stabilizing that I could use everything I had learned.
I'm a typical control freak and a master at avoiding problems. However, for me never taking risks and letting loose made me emotionally sheltered and lead to no rewards, no lessons learned, and no awesome stories. All it left me with is a blown up head because nothing wrong ever happened. I began to think I was some master at life and all knowing when in reality I was limiting myself and I wasn't doing what I most desired to do; live.
Finnley on the other hand is the complete opposite. He is your not so typical risk taking, wild running, soul of Huckleberry Finn man boy who is a master at getting out of problems after they already occur. Believe me when I tell you regardless of the fact that our relationship is the perfect potion for a literal tug or world war, he has taught me the most important lessons about being who I want to be. Every time he pulls me into the mud no matter how much I may bitch and fight and scream on the way down, when I'm in it, I play.
He has pushed me out of my comfort zone and to my limits more than a plenty. Whether it be during hiking miles into the dunes of Death Valley though my legs couldn't bare it, or to climb down one of the many thin trails at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, no matter how much I cried and bitched because he knows when I get down there I won’t be able to put my camera down and take my eyes off of the vast and unprocessable beauty. He pushes me to open my eyes and stop being stubborn and blinded by my sometimes crippling fears and for that I am eternally grateful.
I hope to say that I am as complimentary to his life as well. Some people would call me a buzz kill, but I keep him safe to an extent. For that he knows I care. I'm the dreamer when he can’t find his, I'm the grounder when his excitable nature takes it too far, I'm the navigator when he drives, and I always above all encourage him to be himself and embrace who he really is instead of bowing to the demands of our conventional society that sometimes grab him by the belt loops. I get us to leap, he teaches us how to fly.
The majority of the past year has been spent working, day-dreaming about travel, and obsessively camping when we can and until we may leave again that is what we will continue doing (we will leave again - pinky swear). Camping seems to be the only thing that keeps me sane at home. I'm proud to say that there is no place I rather sleep than in a tent. I crave the outdoors, I want to be active and feel my body alive, and sometimes I ever surpass Finnley now in our adventures, often times scaring him with my shenanigans. Whether it be sunset paddle boarding, moonlit kayaking, or streaking along a shore, we as a team are now always up for an adventure.
Our last adventure took us to a moonlit night on Sanibel Island. A cold front was blowing in, but the night sky unlike the days, was a clear navy, waxed with thin clouds. The moon was at the center of the oceans horizon. The stars were dim and the ocean flipped calm waves to shore. Never has it felt so good to strip to nothing, run, and jump into my loves arms and fall into the ocean as our friends look on hesitant to feel the freedom. The way I see it is this is just the beginning.