I left home exactly 50 days ago. I didn't plan for today, day 50, to be the day I finally open my mouth (internet?) and talk about life away from home, but here we are.
I left home exactly 50 days ago.
It doesn't seem possible to have been gone that long, and yet, being home feels like another lifetime ago. Apparently crossing two time zones does some voodoo shit to the time/space continuum.
I cried two times the day I left. That's it. Once at home and once in the car. I wouldn't cry again for six more days, while laying on the bed in my parents' hotel room, forced into the dreaded goodbye as our cross-country road trip came to an end.
God, that was ugly.
Crying is a domino effect in this family. One cries, the other cries. Then the other cries more. Then the whole thing is a hot mess and everyone wants to die. I mean, that's not really an exaggeration. You try being the baby of the family and moving 2,000 miles away. It's a strange combination of fear and excitement and sadness and guilt that envelopes your entire being.
Everyone is crying because of me. I did this.
I feel guilty for loving Bend. I feel bad if I have an awesome, new adventure. I don't always want to share my joy because is that like rubbing it in? For someone who is built of feelings, I don't know what to do with the feelings I have that I don't share.
It reminds me of the way a person moves on after grieving a loss. Is it OK to be happy in this new chapter? Even though I left people in my wake who are crying and sad, and the guilt sits in my gut like a rock, can I still be excited? Even though I miss the people and the places I left at home, can I be comfortable forming new friendships and memories?
To be clear, I don't know these answers. Sometimes I feel like I'm tip-toeing around in my life.
But even though I'm tip-toeing my way through unfamiliar moments, I'm happy here. Don't get me wrong, I've had my handful of complete meltdowns in the last 50 days. Three that I can remember clearly. Most recently in the middle of a 24-mile run with new friends. A meltdown that melted into the rest of my day, while I lay on my floor hours later, still crying over everything and nothing. Over the guilt, mostly. I don't know what to do with it. I want to crumple it up and throw it into the wind, but I can't. I feel like I'm supposed to hang onto it. My penance.
That aside, the road trip west was amazing. We spent four days driving, two-way radios in each car, playing follow-the-leader across the country. And holy shit, it's a big country, and so beautiful. Me, Luna and Chicken packed into my Ford Focus with mom and dad following behind.
Whatever comes of this adventure, I will never, ever forget the drive across the country with my parents. I could literally write a million words and no words about it at the same time. It felt like the kind of adventure every person should experience, and I was lucky enough to share it with them.
I shudder when I realize I almost made the entire trip on my own. I almost did the entire move by myself. I'd be on the side of a road right now in the fetal position, probably somewhere in Nebraska, if I had had to do that alone. There's also something comforting about having been able to share my new home with my parents. If I'm going to hightail it to Oregon, I may as well make sure they know where I am, right?
Bend, itself, feels like living on a perpetual vacation, though. How do I live here? The outdoors is beautiful. The skyline is beautiful. I can run a mile up a butte in my neighborhood and see the entire Cascade Mountain range.
I've met wonderful people and have made great friends. I've got running buddies and running stores that already feel like home. My apartment feels safe. It's mine. It's full of my things and my memories. I legitimately love it here.
And yet, the guilt. It's like that guilt keeps me from fully letting out my breath. As if this isn't real, and I should be prepared for it to be ripped away. I expect to be punished for making a decision for no other reason than complete selfishness. For wanting to experience the Pacific Northwest and wanting to experience an adventure. I made that choice for those reasons at the expense of the feelings of my family. I feel rotten about that.
Rotten, however, among the beautiful mountains.
If I had my way, I'd pack up my whole family -- all three of them -- and bring them here forever. This move wasn't about leaving anyone. It was about experiencing something. So bringing them with me doesn't change anything. Yet it changes everything because then I can let out my breath.
Then again, maybe my breathing struggles have something to do with the altitude. I'm still catching on to that whole concept. But man, it's beautiful here. So beautiful.
And I am so very okay.