1.31.2015

Diaries of a nomad

35mm | Kodak | Scans by Film Box Lab

I just returned from a long solo road-trip. That's how I hope to start a chapter of a book I hope to write one day on nothing in particular. But in this case, I will use that opening sentence to describe the last two beautiful months of my life. I made an intentional choice to slow down and take some time off for the month of December and January.  It was a decision I made together with my husband at the end of last winter. My beautiful husband who supported me in every way, encouraged me to wander. I'm not sure what questions he had to fend off from his family and some of our friends these last few weeks while we were apart. Maybe none. He never complained. he always supported my every move and his love through it all was so incredibly empowering. Although he missed me, he knew this trip was like therapy for me. and it was. every single moment. 

This idea to road-trip to Florida arose out of a very large struggle I had last winter. I may have joked about my first winter here, called it a journey, wrote about always trying to find the beauty in every space and every moment. Talked about surviving. However, the struggle was very real and I felt very misunderstood. I missed so many things about our life in Florida- my beautiful mother most of all. I embraced my emotions, thought very deeply about how I felt and started to make changes in my life.

Our life had seemed like a whirlwind ever since we left Vero Beach and moved to Australia. Once we moved back to Wisconsin from Australia, my life had changed so much I almost didn't recognize it, and could hardly keep up with it. It felt like I was living on a roller-coaster with people I didn't know and I couldn't get off. and it was hard. I cried almost every day. So many people offered what they thought were words of advice, words of encouragement- not knowing how bad I was struggling. and not just with the weather.  It only seemed to make it worse. I felt even more misunderstood. The cultural difference between Wisconsin and Florida was strikingly different. 

I missed my favorite humans, relentless sunshine, and the salty ocean. The only token I had from my old life was my love. He always seemed to understand me. He mourned with me, saw me drift into a place of sadness, and reached out to me. I came out of last winter determined to never feel the way I felt again. 

I felt catapulted into summer last year and drank in the long days, floating on the cool lake, and watched with complete shock as my photography and art businesses took off. I couldn't paint fast enough or respond to inquiries quick enough. I pinched myself daily of how good I had it and how those last few years of hard work writing here, painting, and photography was finally paying off. finally. 

Then came the best part, I found best friends. I found them! and they were indeed the missing piece in my life here. They were here all along too! -hiding behind mutual friends and at open mic nights and in beautiful galleries and working food stands. And my life started to feel complete again. It felt like a real life. 

And then winter came and I started to panic a little. I could not have what happened last year happen again. I just couldn't. I knew my long-awaited road-trip was coming, sunshine, family, friends- but I was just so nervous about being away from the person I loved more than anything for so long. 

We started our trip out together. Driving from Wisconsin to Florida. Ended our time in Florida together just after New Years. Had a very tearful goodbye at the airport where I almost called the whole thing off. 

Then I was on my own- in my favorite place on earth: Florida. A place I longed to be for so long. Insert long walks on more beaches than I can count on my hands, holding best friends babies, sunshine on my face, seashells in every pocket, sand in my floor boards and in my sleeping bag, sleeping on friends couches, catch up breakfasts, coffee dates, front porch sits, fresh seafood dinners, celebration drinks, swimming, skateboarding, and lots and lots of hugs. I drove through Chicago, Louisville, Indianapolis, coastal South Carolina, Georgia, and stopped in the beautiful Smoky Mountain town Asheville, collected sea shells in Cocoa Beach, watched the sunrise in Vero Beach, visited friends in Tampa, spent days in St. Petersburg, grabbed dinner with friends in Miami, slept on a houseboat for several days in Orlando, went boating in Key Largo, camped on the ocean in Big Pine Key, wandered the streets of Key West, went hiking in the Everglades. I learned how to make soap, practiced the art of stained glass, did a ton of sewing, shell collecting, and painting. Hundreds of gallons of gas, and thousands of miles later, I returned home freshly tanned and re-juvinated. 

I invested a lot in myself these past few months. I allowed myself to just be alone with my thoughts. Toes in the waves. no schedule. no pressure. I encouraged myself to not take my 30's lightly. To enjoy every moment and every person that passes in front of my face. New and old. To always be aware of the struggles other humans might be privately facing. To turn off technology, turn off negative thinking, and turn on my smile! I learned so much about myself- both good and bad. I reconnected with so many of my friends and my family. Painted a ton and photographed everything with my 35mm camera. 

I realized how important relationships are and how precious time is. I also realized that it's a common thing for everyone to think that the grass is always greener in another family, in another state, in other's lives. 

I realized no one's grass is greener than my own grass. 


I came away from this trip feeling so refreshed and finally feeling like I could call where I am in my life right now (physically and spiritually) home. Traveling has always been a spiritual journey for me. This road-trip was no different.