Part of this long road trip with my family was about the journey around the United States. But part of it was a good time and space to disconnect from the life I was living before, and figure out what to do next. Another part of the figurative “journey” was also to abruptly change our family dynamics. My husband and I were living “non-traditional” roles in the traditional way that people do these days. Except we were not very happy. We each wanted something more in our lives. We had to search for that more. We had to find it for ourselves. Rather than sit and dream about it one more day, we went looking.
It’s been both comforting and disquieting that at the end of our road trip I found myself in Portland where I’m now realizing my journey had just begun. Until March of 1993, my life was going one way. My dad drove me to Lewis & Clark College. I was on an expedition, of sorts. An expedition in a foreign land called Portland, OR. I met new people and had new experiences. Then I got homesick. Everything changed after that, and my dad drove me home from Lewis & Clark College.
Standing in front of my dorm with two littles by my side, I realized I had been feeling like a quitter all this time. I always urge them to persevere, but somehow the lesson of perseverance skipped a generation, and was coming back to haunt me. I’m the one who didn’t stick it out. I’m the one who came home for no good reason. The one who crushed under the weight of homesickness. With my heavy heart we walked around campus and I remembered all those times. I stood on the bridge crossing the shadowy ravine, I could hear them laughing. I could hear their voices tell our made up stories – with Minnesotan accents. Those girls, those characters from the story of my early life, their words still ring in my ears.
Keeping the entire LC Posse in my back pocket, we walked around the Bone. I started to notice how small everything was. I was aware of the dark, drizzly, damp surroundings. Looking around as a fully functional adult I knew for the first time that I had not been prepared for that place. It was the furthest out of my comfort zone I had ever gone. And like a rubber band that has been stretched to it’s greatest length, I snapped back to my resting state. And I stayed there for many years.
I know I was meant to go back to Portland to see how far I had come. This part of my journey has taken so long. And in so many ways, I’m at the same place I was all those years ago. I’m standing on the precipice of something big in my life. I can feel it all the way to my soul. I have the knowledge and the choice to go forward bravely. It is exciting to have been given an opportunity that I can use and not squander.
Maybe perseverance isn’t measured in the short term. Maybe it’s value is the sum total of all the ways a person tries, fails and learns. Perseverance doesn’t mean sticking it out at all costs. The power in perseverance comes from having the courage to try again. It’s the difference in waiting for something to happen as opposed to choosing for it to happen.
And then we go home.