"Why did you decide to go on this trip in the first place?" Bianca asked after I told her that I was leaving the trip.
"I wanted to do it for a while. Maybe just to see if I could do it." I stood next to Bianca and Rich as she tried to convince me not to abandon the tour.
"You know now is where the hard emotional stuff starts."
"Yes, but I am not sure if I need to prove anything to myself. I have done and accomplished a fair amount of things. I am not sure what would change if I say 'I cycled across the USA.' "
"When I did the 2,000-mile ride I grew so much stronger. Learned so much more about me. Grew as a human."
"That was Alaska for me. I just don't know what else there is for me here on this trip."
At that moment it hit me that I had nothing to run from anymore: not from work, from myself or from my relationship.
There is the cathartic process of touring, exploring one's mind each day in the solitude of the passing landscape, feeling the limitation and pain of the muscles, and the daily victory celebrating the hard labor and the inner strength it took to push through the emotional and physical pain. After my separation, touring helped me over the pain of the loss of my marriage, and my grief for having discontinued my art career.
The random people I would encounter were the friendly local bartenders of my soul. Passing through and freely sharing the war stories of life, knowing they would never reach the shores of New York and impact my work and personal life.
What was I trying to process?
I was thinking of shifting in my career a little, yet this was not an existential crisis. I did realize that I have missed building projects ever since I was assigned to more strategic work in the last couple of years. But, that is hardly an existential crisis deserving of a three-month cycling trip.
Another feeling, though, has been emerging. A feeling I remember vaguely from my teenage years when I lived in Germany. Being homesick. I missed being at home with my boyfriend, my two cats, my friends who cheer me on even for the silliest idea, ordering a midnight sorbet because I am too lazy to go out and pick it up. I even missed the aggressive New Yorker who curses me out for no apparent reason.
A sneaky sentiment occurred to me: I have never felt home after I left Germany. I have never wanted to build a home again, not even after I got married, thought of buying an apartment or tried to build my home. Until now, I never felt I belonged to a city, a country or even to a person. The violence in how I lost my home triggered a defense in me that told me not ever let a city or person be my home so I won't ever have to endure the pain of losing it again.
I realized I was homesick for the first time in 20 years.
I was looking to go home. Nothing to chase me up the hills. I finally have come to a resting point in my life.