by Sonja Kramer Haag
This morning I woke up to an empty apartment a heavy heart and a clear head. I had planned to spend the day seeing the city on my own but the thought of experiencing something new, something excitable, something that was meant to be shared without some one to share it with, that thought lay like a 50 pound brick right on my chest. I had two days left on my journey but I didn’t have the energy or strength or control of my emotions to carry me through the last bit. I missed home, I missed my family, I missed my friends, I missed Casey. I was ready to call an end to my journey, pack up my things and head home.
This realization that I was ready to be back home hit me smack in the face, and I had to take action quickly. Mark and Paul, whom I had been staying with, were at work. I paced around for a while, taking a step towards getting out the door to just take a quick walk, packing a few things, taking a moment to sit, think. There was no decision to be made in this situation. There was no question and no answer. What I felt was a final content with all that I had gathered along the way and am now able to take home with me. And this, this, was exactly why I had started out on this journey alone in the first place.
I got in touch with Mark and Paul. It seemed like a sudden and rash decision to them both. Was I okay? Did something happen? They thought this was stemming from something negative. But, it was just the opposite.
I had been saying just a few days earlier that it was going to be very difficult to head back east. Time spent with Katerina and Mark always has this capacity to it that is unique our relationship. Together we could fill a room with an electricity so sharp that I find myself tip-toeing around each body, each channel of energy, carefully and with calculation. And soon, as I always do, I would lose myself to new idea’s and new stories from faces I had never seen before. Or to stories of old, evoked and made present to watch and to feel. Our time gets trapped between words and activity, and slithers between shoe and foot, soon finding a crack to slip into to lay dormant until it is called forth again by declarations of “get home safe” and “it was good to see you again”. And, as quickly as we come, we go.
Standing in a room once occupied by such, I could now smell the stale, burnt coals from the fires the nights before. There was nothing left to be rebuilt. That’s when I knew.
I had to make a run for it. I needed to go, I needed to leave, I needed to not be questioned. Once the questions start, so does the doubt. So, as the wind blows, I am carried away. I would have the three days journey back home and only then would I allow myself to collect everything, lay it gently in front of me and go through, piece by piece, building and understanding and making solid this knowledge that I have consumed.
I may not yet be ready to let go of the experiences and the relationships that I have built, but, for now, I know I don’t have to. I recognize now that the love and support I found on the road, is and has always been, at home for me. I am finally ready to build a life around this foundation. I’m ready to go home to Milwaukee, back to Casey and Cadence, my sister just down the road, my mother working nearby, my father in his chair, my bed, my shower, my shortcuts and hidden gems, my forest, my friends, my familiarity, my community.
At the beginning of this trip, I was relentlessly searching, trying to find the answer to the question,
“why am I making this odyssey?”
“what does it mean?”
I knew these were question I would not have an answer to until I had done more, seen more, completed more. I had to trust and understand that the answer to most of the questions I have in my life will manifest themselves when they know I’m ready to understand and listen. As long as I continue to be confident and strong, courageous and willing to take risks, humble and gracious, success will come. Failing is not an options, it’s not something I will ever consider.
I want to move forward now, into a course of encouragement and consideration for others. I want to pay it forward, keep my door open and my hands generous. I hope to show those who have shown me, the same. Or those who don’t know, how to.
I have two more days on the road to end this journey, but so many more ahead of me in life.
I will never stop wondering and exploring. I will never stop loving and sharing.
I will never be able to show you exactly how much I appreciate what you have done for me.
I hope there, at least, was a glimpse.
Sonja Kramer Haag