Driving a huge truck through Utah Valley, heading towards the Great Salt Lake, large mountains staring me down, and feeling small and alone in the best possible way, I had no idea my trip to visit my husband in Provo, Utah, would become a pilgrimage of self discovery.
Like a knock on the door, my wayfaring future had tapped subtly, telling me to leave comfort behind and go be with my husband. For about a year, painting projects had pulled him from one state to another, always bringing him home with new experiences. While I longed to share his rambling ways, leaving my nest of friends and family behind felt like a foreign path. Once the plane tickets were bought, I knew I had failed at tying myself to the past.
I pulled up my roots, marking this trip as the culmination of failed resistance and my release into the arms of wanderlust. Now, I will work and travel with the painting company, play music for strangers, and make a home on the road.
Through tiny phone speakers, I hear the voice of Johnny Flynn sing to me:
All of your traveling all on your own
Are you going to tomorrow, or are you headed home?
I nod at coincidence and breathe my restlessness out. I let home be home, behind me or in front, and I look at what the rest of the world has to offer me, tears streaming from my anxious and delighted eyes.
When I arrived, the Great Salt Lake was vast and covered in brine flies who savored my southern blood, turning it into sweet nectar in their mouths. I felt minuscule observing the expanse of water, stretching far across the dry earth, seeming to never end, but before I dipped my toes in, I crossed paths with a slithering demon. He looked me in the eyes, hissed, and redirected my course for a moment. Too terrified to take the trail down to the salty wonderland waiting for me, I stood there, fear curdling in my stomach, and told myself, “This is why you came.”
Still, I only found the courage to take the path behind a sweet elderly couple unaware of the squirming danger that had just passed. After allowing them to “test the waters,” I took off my shoes, bugs swarming around me, smell of marsh filling the air, and I breathed in deeply, submerging my feet in an icky swamp-like lake. I walked on some wobbly rocks, took some pictures, stood around mindlessly for about 20 minutes, and I felt surprisingly underwhelmed. The lake was picturesque, but, strangely, it was the drive to my destination, the encounter with a snake, and the sweet elderly couple that made it more meaningful.
I left a little bewildered and headed to a bar in Salt Lake City to reward myself for taking the voyage alone. Johnny Flynn piped back in on the way:
A heart beats on the tinker’s trail
Steal kisses midst the stiles and bales
Write sonnets so the hope might flow
Sow seeds of footsteps, something grows.
In a heady state of happiness, I thought upon the significance of the day and the lessons I had learned. My feet are meant to take me places, my hands must loosen their grip on the life behind me, and though I’m afraid, the challenges along the road make the future worthwhile—like a trophy that is only meaningful once you’ve earned it.
This truth was unsettling, heartbreaking, and empowering all at once. I sipped on craft beer, sat down to write, and gave in to a future I cannot control. Perhaps only the “seeds of footsteps” Johnny Flynn sings of will be sown in me, and maybe that’s enough. Maybe that gives me something to bring home from each journey.
Taking on the nomadic lifestyle before me, I brush off the mucky water and mud from this voyage, and I move on to the next.