|these bad boys hang out on the rock of Gibralter|
|sweet memories of Provence|
|a 500 year old bldg gives new meaning to "vintage"|
|cool peeps I met on the trip|
|Cadiz again, I loved it|
|Joan from Manchester, UK - my new bestie!|
There is nothing like travel to thrust you into the present moment...as much as I've done it I'm still amazed at how righted & centered & alive I can be once I get into that airport (my "church" as I've jokingly referred to it with a friend) and begin the journey that has a loose itinerary but that is always filled with surprises. And the surprises are not what I discover out there but what I find out about myself - the world always acts as a mirror for me to confront the parts of me that I am not able to see when I am in familiar routine, so travel has never been about relaxing or vacating for me, but more like coming to and hooking up with myself. Not always joyful, often very painful, but always very, very intense and necessary seeming.
I started driving from Mt. Hood to Houston on April 21st and at first the drive seemed ridiculous: carting an ancient dog across the country (to stay with my parents) so I could be free to travel for a couple of months without worrying about him. He is frailer and blinder than ever, so leaving him in kennel seemed cruel. I guess I should look at the positive side that I have the means and freedom to do a trip like this at all...but taking care of creatures is not my wheelhouse - bolting towards unknown adventure is.
The 6 day drive was epic and insightful, as all long solo road trips are...it was snowing when I left Mt. Hood & 96F when I arrived in Austin. So horrid to be in Texas weather! I love my home state so much it hurts, but the weather sucks so badly I can't live there anymore. After settling in at my folks house in Houston I went to Taos for the annual painting/gutting trip. It was good to be in that space, but I felt hard and resistant to the process - very aware that I was still feeling pain in my heart about the miles between me and McMurdo...it never ebbs, I can only distract myself from it with work, travel, yoga, lame attempts to have a spiritual life. In the blink of an eye Taos was over, then my month in Austin was to commence.
Initially I thought being in Austin for an extended period was going to be just waiting to go on this mediterranean trip, but my time there was very, very juicy: I felt like the prodigal son returning to welcoming, excited hordes of people wanting to see me. It was incredible. I was home. I was feeling apprehensive about the two weeks in Europe, feeling badly about dumping my pet on my parents, feeling like I hadn't worked long enough to earn this trip, and that I was just overindulging myself because I could...but what I've learned is worrying about stuff is such a waste of time...in the blink of an eye that trip was over too...and here I sit at 4:00am in Houston, the multi-legged adventure completed, preparing to drive back to my cabin in Oregon. But before I close some words about the Europe trip:
It took a long time to decide whether I would go on this trip...I really wanted to go to Skandinavia & Russia but this group I wanted to travel with only goes to hot sunny places so I decided to do the mediterranean with them. I would just suck it up and deal with my sun exposure headaches with advil and kvetching.
What I always forget & what is always a delight is the intimacy that happens with being in a place where I've never been, exploring the crooked cobblestone streets alone, and being utterly in the present and available for anything. I was with a group...but soon found I preferred my own company to theirs, though was grateful to have them as a safety net of comrades. The beautiful busty lady pictured is my new friend Joan from Liverpool. We met the last few days of the trip and had a blast dancing and tarting around on the ship. I am truly blessed to be able to have such a life.