I find myself thinking over the events of this summer and the journeys I have taken. I graduated from Arizona State in May and then went on the trip of a lifetime; or at least for my lifetime. This trip took me to New York to visit family, back to my home of Massachusetts, and on an unexpected trip south to Tennessee and Virginia. Each phase of the trip held meaning for me. New York was about connecting with family, Massachusetts finding myself, and Tennessee and Virginia a combination of adventure and balance. As I look back a month after returning to life in Arizona I’m astounded at all I experienced in only six weeks.
New York was probably the greatest challenge for me as I reconnected with family. While this may seem like no big deal, most of the people I met were complete strangers to me. The few relatives I did know haven’t seen me in over twenty years. So why did I chose to go back now? I felt it was time to put aside the petty differences, and distractions that have prevented us from knowing each other all these years and try to form connections. Looking back, I think this was accomplished. I had the opportunity to get to know these relatives and the one consistent feeling I received from all of them was acceptance. I suppose that was the main thing I learned when in New York; that even though time and distance had prevented us from meeting before, there were people who would accept me.
I took the train from New York to Massachusetts; will NEVER do that again. But despite the fact that the train kept breaking down and the trip took about five hours longer than needed I did love seeing the Massachusetts countryside. It was the first time back to Massachusetts in nine years. I’d always threatened that if I ever returned I wouldn’t come back to Arizona—I almost kept my word. Standing on Sea Gull Beach on Cape Cod, a place filled with more memories than probably anywhere else in Mass for me, I realized that I didn’t want to go back. Most of the adventures in Mass were done on my own; but I liked it that way. It was so weird going back to Southbridge and realizing how little had changed over nine years, even with the horrid economy. Remembering roads that I’d never driven, yet finding my way to Framingham and Natick from childhood memories in the passenger seat. Every time I think about my connection to Massachusetts I think of a quote from L.M. Montgomery that goes along the lines: “My soul was tied to the land and I did it a great violation by removing myself from it.”
The unexpected trip south turned out to be one of the best parts of my adventure. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to Tennessee, but I loved the Smoky Mountains. Between the massive height of the mountains to the crystal streams and waterfalls; there is a peace there, one that comes from untouched wilderness. It was the same with the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Driving through the Blue Ridge and seeing the Shenandoah River materialized childhood memories of singing “Country Roads” in the car with my mom. One thing that I felt in both these places was balance. Not just the balance I desire to attain in handling work and enjoyment, but in everyday life. The areas we stayed in weren’t rich, but you could see that the people were happy, and yes the place is beautiful but that doesn’t promote the happiness. There was a balance, a level of contentment that the locals displayed—taking pleasure in the everyday occurrences.
Now that I’m home the real adventure begins: how to maintain all that I learned on my journey into my everyday life.