Saturday, September 14, 2013

Capturing Cultural Clues Cross Country (and back!)

33 days after departing New Mexico, we end our journey, but not where we started, and not as the same people that departed. In thirty three days Amil and I slept in 19 and 17 different places, respectively. We saw 34 family and friends as well as 6 dogs and 6 cats. We visited 6 national parks and forests, ate 5 different kinds of edible wild mushrooms and went to farmers markets. What really made this journey spectacular, however, is not the quantity of our adventures, but how each stop on our journey crafted our personalities. We learned from each group of hosts about who we are, who we aren’t, what we need and what we don’t. In this essential time of transition between the transient life and the rooted life, the lessons we learned on the way will likely prove invaluable. 
What follows is a summary in hindsight of cross country travels- from Thoreau, New Mexico to New York City and back to Southern California.
“I want you to think about something while I’m gone this next week,” I started, as we zoomed down the highway toward the airport, under the usual variant New Mexican sky. I explained the possibility that our boss had presented to me in my end of summer evaluation. She had expressed interest in having us as a couple to work as collaborators of the Environmental Education center and caretakers of an Open Space in Albuquerque. She had mentioned it at the beginning of the summer when everything seemed so solid- fall work at an outdoor science school, back home for Christmas, move out, get ready for the wedding, get married, honeymoon, come back for another summer then off to graduate school… But now, after a summer of valleys and vistas, learning, teaching, growing and falling more in love with simple routines and desert life, our solid plans didn’t seem as rigid. After all the flexibility of the summer, this seemed like an obvious opportunity.
At the sunport, we hugged and kissed our “see-ya-laters.” Saying adieu for a week seemed like nothing after several multiple-month sessions without seeing each other. Then we were off- me to Texas to volunteer at a week-long summer camp, and Amil to continue with our originally planned road trip up to Colorado to catch a train to Chicago.

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