Journal

First stop

My first month of down-time since leaving Boston was spent in one of the most beautiful places on the planet—uncrowded, sugar-white beaches that stretch for 30 continuous miles, crystalline emerald waters teeming with tame dolphins—a little-known paradise that everyone backpacking around Thailand is looking for.

It’s funny, then, that I’m sitting on a plane now headed to Southeast Asia in search of sights and smells and sounds that, for me, won’t ever quite top that place—my hometown, the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Nothing can ever replace the feeling of stepping onto that warm Gulf sand and breathing in the wild, salty wind after being away for far too long—or watching a fiery Florida sunset melt into the ocean for the thousandth time.  An almost too-perfect background for the past month of relaxing with my amazing and charmingly wacky family and digging into those old childhood favorites like the chili cheese pie at Tom’s Hot Dogs and yes, even Taco Bell (twice…).

Maybe travel is not about replacing, then; it’s about learning, growing, and sometimes even being more appreciative of the places we are from when we finally return home.

And I know that when I’ve seen whatever it is that I need to see, and done whatever it is that I need to do, the Emerald Coast will be there waiting for me, beckoning me home like it always does.

Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach, Florida

Transitioning

I’m in New Hampshire now, enjoying a few days’ visit with my family before I fly south to meet Steph, soon after which we’ll finally leave on our trip. The fall season is well underway, and my family has been making the most of that in the short time I’m here. Earlier in the week, my sister was able to make it up from New York, and we went for a horseback trail ride at Castle in the Clouds. My brother Adam drove in for a day, and we were able to fit in a run along my favorite Bog Road route, apple picking at an orchard near Concord, and dinner with Grandma – and my parents have been off work all the while!

Even the weather has cooperated; the air has that unmistakably New England autumn feel – thin, and too cold for complete comfort, but too inviting to stay inside.

Schooner off the coastline of Boston

Fall seems a good time to begin a trip like this. In New England especially, fall marks the start of a large change: the trees invert in color, the temperature drops, and the last page of the calendar nears. Change has been a theme in Steph’s and my life lately as well; it’s been a bittersweet last 3-4 weeks.

We moved to Boston about 7 years ago, and since then we’ve grown together into the people we are today. Our current tastes and interests came mostly from the time we spent here; it was in Boston that we found our shared love of cooking, where we both began to love running, where we became engaged, where we bought our first home, and where we learned to treasure the ability to get most anywhere without driving a car. We also met some of our closest friends in Boston, and were fortunate enough to work with and learn from some of the brightest people in our respective work fields.

And then moving seemed to happen so quickly. Since just September, we’ve sold our house, Steph defended her PhD thesis, and I completed 2 major year-long projects at work, all while traveling to conferences in England and Tennessee, spending time with our family in both Florida and New Hampshire. There wasn’t any time to pause and reflect on all that’s changing, what we’ve learned, and where we’re headed next.

So now, it seems we’ll have time to do that. We’re off to Southeast Asia for a trip we’ve long wanted to take, and my friends/bosses/colleagues at Filament Group have been incredibly generous in allowing me ample time off to take it slowly, and eventually work along the way. I’m not sure how long we’ll be away, but I am sure that it will change us yet again, and to me, that’s pretty exciting!