I have been traveling for more than six years. I’ve pedaled 56,000 km through 38 countries. And now it’s time to bring it home.
I still don’t know exactly why I started this journey. People have always asked and I’ve done my best to say something. But the reasons don’t add up anymore, at least none beyond the fact that I was once 27 and had nothing better to do.
What I do know is why I’m finally comfortable bringing all of this to an end. Travel has given me everything, but its prize is also its fatal flaw. By its very nature, it is impermanent, rootless. A traveler grows nothing but old.
I long to build something that will last. I want a garden, a place where I can sink my hands into the earth and see a season through. I want to be a friend, a brother, a son, and not just a name on a postcard. I want to stop saying goodbye.
I would be lying, too, if I said it wasn’t difficult for me to watch my friends begin to reap the rewards of a more traditional life. I don’t regret going the way I did, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the bargain was worth it. They have families and careers and houses on streets named after trees. I have instant noodles and two very questionable knees.
I may never be like them, and that’s okay. It’s time to take what I’ve learned and start being me.
The trick, then, is getting home, and what a trick it will be.
Tomorrow I fly from Auckland to San Francisco. From there, I will keep a promise by pedaling to Duluth, Minnesota, where I once waited for a boat to carry me across the Atlantic. The final push will see me in Manitoba by the middle of October – before the first snow.
I will pedal 4,300 km in just over five weeks. I don’t need to show myself that I can do it. I only want to prove that I can finish.
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by Sarah Altendorf, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0