It’s extraordinary, the number of times I’ve said this is something I’ll never forget already this summer: Eating at Tsunami with good, old friends. The wind and the afternoon light as Natalie drove the boat on Lake Austin. Mesmerized by the steep, red rocks at the Grand Canyon. Watching the sun set from Venice Beach with my older cousins. Milking a goat for the very first time (a less-than-thrilled goat since my hands are still weak and confused). The wildest hike with Susie. Then tonight: drinking a glass of Sonoma County wine, leaning against Tim’s truck, watching the lightning miles away with Susie. The redwoods – god damn. It’s all I can say. Look up, Susie says as I walk back to my trailer, my eyes always focused on avoiding the rattlesnakes I fear in the grass. I try to keep my eyes on the stars above, the biggest and widest sky I have ever seen.

Everything east of the Mississippi feels like normal life – seeing friends I’ve visited or been close to before, I-40 through Tennessee fully familiar. The same trees and sky and rain. But then it all changed, and how quickly it has melted into one long drive after the bridge over the river… the cattle fields and rolling hills of east Texas, the emptiness and tumbleweeds of west Texas, the beginning of mountains through New Mexico, the descent from Santa Fe, the pine trees through Flagstaff, the fright and desolation of the Mojave Desert, the traffic of LA, the hills of San Francisco and the steep and winding coast between Jenner and Bodega Bay. All the space, it just goes on and on and on. Driving across the country has done nothing but deepen my love for America, and part of me aches; there are so many things I haven’t seen and I am hungry for more. All in due time.

But whatever happens for the rest of my life, there is this: there is who I was when I was 22 years old, living in a trailer with a cat who climbs up the window screens, lightning flashing over the ocean in the distance, exhausted in the best ways. There is a bottle cap from the Oregon beer Amanda gave me at the Gualala River that says bravely done, and I don’t know if they all say that, but I’m taking it as a sign or a blessing or a message of approval, and that’s enough for me. So even if Portia kicks over the bucket tomorrow or the endless weeds take over the garden or the corn doesn’t produce any edible corn, I am here, faithfully here, melodically here, listening and wondering and moving gently through this world I’m visiting.

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