Rest did not come easy last night. It never does the night before an adventure. This was different.
As preparations began and hours passed by in a paradoxical blend of alarming speed and agonizing slowness, I found myself emotionally triggered by the task of packing my things, cleaning my apartment, finalizing work. I had asked a friend to come over and have dinner and watch a movie with me. I don't know how I thought I had time for that. When he texted me to say that he forgot he had plans, but that he'd see me in the morning to take me to the airport, I felt an unexpected and disorienting sinking as my heart landed in my stomach.
Alone. I am alone.
I called my mom and burst into tears.
The rest of the evening was a blur. Two weeks worth of clothes, including too few socks, stacked neatly into piles. Every corner of my home, turned over and tidy. Before I know it my parents are in my living room with dinner.
"You okay?" my mom asks quietly, knowingly, from a spot across from me on the floor.
"Yeah." I say, "It's a lot." I have more to say but I'm still processing it all. And that is enough. She knows.
I hug Apollo tight and hold his sweet, aging face in my hands, and then watch them go. He knows. I don't want to sleep without him tonight.
My plan was to settle in to a restful evening buried in every blanket I own on my green velvet couch. To invite a quality of ritual to enter the final hours before departure. In the end I packed, cleaned and worked until 11:00 and then succumbed to the idea of sleep. So, so tired. Riddled with exhaustion. Rest not coming. But eventually I'm taken by bouts of deep slumber until it's 5:04 AM and I can't try anymore.
"En route" he says at 6:02 as I take a final walk thru, ensuring I've got it all, clear for takeoff. He might stay here while I'm gone and that brings me so much joy. I leave notes, remembering the last time I forgot to tell someone the door locks from the inside.
It's early and he's tired. I know.
"How are you feeling?" he asks. Not at his fullest capacity to hold space for this and that's okay. I sigh a loaded breath out and let it reverberate in my throat.
"Um..." as tears fill my eyes.
"Overwhelmed?" as he starts and finishes my sentence. He knows.
What is it? This feeling that's sitting in a tangled knot in my chest? An unnerving unknown, I think. The painstaking climb to the summit, and standing at the peak, knowing that you still have to climb down. That ahead lies a trek that will change you forever, as drastically as the ascent. And the discomfort in the great, abundant unknown can bring you to your damn knees.
The feeling is - alone. Shifting. Going forth unto this world, this life, the same way I came in and will go out. And the firmness of the ground beneath my own two, unaccompanied feet can be so startling.
But by way of that ground, we wander. Not lost but perhaps, altered. Insatiably curious as to the versions of ourselves we'll meet at each stop. At base camp, the summit and back again. Partnered with the unchanging truth that we never left home.
He hugs me tight, as long as I need. He knows.
"The journey starts and ends with you."
An unending blanket of coulds blinds my eyes at 30,000 feet.