Just like that. Just like that.
Just like that I’m wearing a turtleneck, soaking my feet in hot water scented with spicy healing oils, listening to rich orchestral music, on my second massive American mug of tea, burning a candle, the lights low in the house full of things that are mine. There are root vegetables on the counter and I will roast them. And outside the leaves are red, but everything else is gray, and the wind is blowing, and the rain is falling. Hours ago, I was in hot Southern Spain, and now I’m in Northwest America, and it’s the center of autumn. Just like that, I need to spend my day sitting still instead of walking, emailing people, looking for ways to make money, nursing my bed bug bites and aching feet whilst cherishing them as souvenirs from the most wonderful days.
Just like that, my mom and dad greeted me at the airport like they have so many times. They asked questions about the trip I forgot I had when I began it: what was it like to walk that much? What was hard? What was easy? How did the pilgrim credencial work? How was the Spanish coming?
Just like that, I was in the apartment of my brother and sister-in-law, who were dressed in thick sweaters and looking dapper after work. Just like that I shared Spanish wine from Whole Foods with them, quaffing from familiar, heavy glasses, talking about the camino, but also about how David was about to climb a V8 (like the juice?) at the gym and how Ashley’s preschool was having a field trip to a pumpkin patch.
We went to a craft brewery where we bought pints for six dollars, which was expensive compared to Spanish beer, but it was okay because it featured subtle notes of lavender and rosemary. We went to that brewery because David knew that every Friday night, a retired blacksmith named Al held court there, offering patrons slices of fresh homemade bread.
If you go see Al, he’ll tell you that he doesn’t sell the bread because he’s retired now and he just wants to have fun.
David asked him for life advice, and Al said, “Keep a positive attitude. It changes everything.” He also said, “It’s okay if you’re not qualified for something. Just be confident and jump in the deep end and start swimming.”
I drove through the residential streets in Fremont in the dark even though it wasn’t that late, and cars were on either side. (Driving is much more dangerous than walking.) Here at home things are familiar but there are no arrows pointing where to go to achieve success. We just drink coffee and Amazon builds more offices and we throw our organic apple cores in the compost after removing the stickers. There are bills to pay and things to do and jobs to negotiate and it’s all going down in the dark. Seattle can be so dark. It doesn’t have to be scary, but after walking carefree in the sun for so long, it is.
But it’s fine. I’m fine. Though the sunsets are decadent. It cost 41 days of walking to see one on the ocean in Spain, and here, I can ride my old bike with flat tires for five minutes and watch our star go down over the Olympics and the Sound and the Shilsole Bay Marina every night. And then I can coast back down the hill under a pink sky.