Sunday, April 1, 2012

Post Trip Stress Disorder & Journeys that Never End

the closest thing I have to a cape is humility.

I knew it would be hard because everyone said it would be hard. They tell you your body takes at least a month to recover. That was true. For a month, I sat completely still, save my whimpering. Who knows where the endorphins store--where they wait for you to reach them. They tell you that you might gain weight, eating like a touring cyclist while moving like a 9 to 5er. I avoided that one. Not quite sure how. I'm glad. They tell you that you'll miss the road, the adventure, the unknown view shooting into sight just after you've rounded the bend. That was true, too. But manageable.

What they don't tell you is that you'll miss each other. Maybe because they didn't do it like we did. Maybe they didn't choose together every time, even when alone would've been less torturous. Maybe they didn't choose to meet in the middle of two impossible hopes--to walk a tight rope journey with unpredictable winds--falling, getting hurt, getting up, trying again anyway. Maybe they didn't become like one--him setting up the stove, her chopping the vegetables; him locking up the bikes, her brokering a barter; him fixing the flat, her filling the waters. I'm sure they crossed mountains together--we all do, we all do. But maybe they didn't sob at the top thinking No one will ever know what we've done together. This will always be us, booba. Just us. Just us.

And then maybe when they got home they didn't go from always to rarely, from over-time to wish-I-could-get-more-hours. Maybe those people didn't tell us how hard it would be, because their journey ended differently--together, telling stories. 

Who knows. Maybe it's always harder than they want to reveal. Maybe no one wants to tell you not to blow up your life. Maybe they still know something I don't, further out, with more time and perspective underway.

Our journey didn't end when we boxed up those bikes. Some days, it feels like that was just the beginning. That for every inhale, for every mile we stretched, there's still an exhale, a sojourn home.

A year ago today, we left on those bikes. Brian's 25th birthday--cold, rainy, windy. I remember looking in the bathroom mirror on the first floor of the Green Vine Co-op, glow in my eyes, invincibility my secret superhero cape. I knew we were going to make it. I knew we were going to rupture the norm and do something completely incredible. I knew we were going to do it together. I knew I would reach the edge of my sanity, and I knew I would survive.

What I didn't know, what no one told me, is that when I returned, another edge would be waiting. That I would look in the mirror today, humbled and stripped down, but certain with a less glamorous glow, that I'll survive this, too. I know now that survival looks much more like bags under your eyes and going 5 more miles with nothing left in you. I know now what I'm capable of doing for love.

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