Ain't No Mountain High Enough

It's been a real b*tch trying to make myself write about this month's trip to Denver, Colorado.

Smiling my way through a panic attack at the CLE Airport

Maybe I'll feel this way for a while every time I come back home from traveling. Can't I just watch Once Upon a Time reruns on Netflix over and over? Anyway.

Those two weeks away were such a roller coaster, so many ups and downs and new information that I'm still processing. I dread not having my shit together before jumping into a blog post, but I've said it before- stories without the rough parts are boring for you and for me.

It's funny how far down the road we can get before we look around and realize we've been traveling a false path again. I keep thinking I'm being honest with my friends, my writing, myself, until another wall is broken down to reveal a truth I've buried so deep I was unknowingly living by it. 

I'm learning to utilize my intuition and gut feelings more than ever before, and it's truly frightening to see how much discomfort I've been living with.

I thought traveling was uncomfortable. I thought leaving home was scary. I thought the unknown was dangerous. I thought being different was an ugly, terrible burden.

When I was younger, I was the little girl who always had to call her mommy in the middle of the sleepover because she was too homesick to stay. My dad took more 2 a.m. drives to pick up my Barbie sleeping bag and I than I wanted to admit. I hated being uncomfortable, and I had no idea that pushing through that feeling to reap the benefits of the experience was an even option. If I was uncomfortable, I left the situation, just as so many of us feel desperate to do throughout our adult lives.

Eating lunch on the curb down the road from the cafe

But the more I push through those suffocating moments now, the bigger the breath I can take on the other side once the moment has passed.

There were many nights in Denver I couldn't sleep, and lied there awake in a home that didn't smell like mine, with cats that weren't mine, even breathing air that didn't feel like mine (it takes a bit for this sea-level girl to get used to the thinner air of the Mile High City). There were several moments of tension, a few times I honestly thought I lost the car, a night or two with a few too many drinks, and the general hovering itching feeling that never lets your brain rest while you're outside of your comfort zone.

And even when my cell phone was stolen out of my backpack at the park downtown, and I spent the next six hours alongside several local strangers tracking the kid down until we found him, and the police searched him but I went home defeated and exhausted because the punk had already tossed the phone away for cash, and I desperately wanted to take my already-booked flight home the very next day...somehow I stayed.

I missed the NBA Finals, including game 7 where the Cavaliers took home Cleveland's first championship in 52 years. I missed Father's Day. I missed time with my sister and my friends. I missed my bed and my routine. But still I stuck to my plan to extend my trip a few extra days.

Taking the girl out of CLE

And I gained so, so much more than I missed:

I got a taste of my first Comic-Con. I dressed up as Clara, the companion to my best friend, who dressed up as The Twelfth Doctor from Doctor Who. I witnessed a queer-friendly group Comic-Con wedding. I got an awesomely terrifyingly accurate tarot reading from the new bride, my friend's new sister-in-law.

I spent another unforgettable day and night in the mountains.

I grew even closer to my best friend, who lives over a thousand miles away.

But most of all, somehow even more important than all of these other things, I proved to myself that not only could I stick it out and extend my trip, not only could I stay away from home for two full weeks, but because of and not despite the challenges, I loved it.

"That’s how you know you’ve really got a home: When you leave it, there’s that feeling that you can’t shake. You just miss it."

Ever since I heard Neal's character casually explain his concept of "home" in Once Upon a Time, I've held onto these words very closely, replaying them in the back of my mind and trying to think of a place I ever missed like that. Not anxious, home-sick, this-is-weird-I-don't-like-it missed, but truly missed beyond the anxiety.

I get a taste, more like a freaking huge bite, of this missing feeling the first few days I am back in Lakewood after my travels have ended. CLE feels more like a wonderful base for me than it ever has before, but for now, that's all I want it to be: a place to touch down, recuperate, visit, and venture from again.

Celebrating this trip's first yoga class. Peace within me.

And with that, I've finally found it, a piece of myself I've been searching for for a long time, the little jigsaw stinker that fell behind the couch or under the rug and somehow missed the vacuum cleaner until it was actually miraculously found again:

My home.

Learning, experiencing, witnessing, growing, changing, that is my home.

The yogi in me is thanking her lucky stars up and down right now, because without all of those never-ending, uncomfortable, grim moments spent kicking off too hard for a headstand, falling over sideways in crescent lunge, or sitting in maddening chair pose for so long I swore I would never roll my mat out again, I would have been blinded by doubt, unwillingness, and fear, rather than saying "You know what? I can do this."

I spent two weeks in the mountainous desert and densely populated city of Denver. My phone was stolen, the insurance for my return flight backfired, and countless other unexpected things happened; yet I know without a doubt that I could have stayed longer, and that somehow the visit still wasn't enough.

I long so much to be back in the mountains, up high and away from the city, where a girl can really take a step back, take it all in, and ask the only question that matters right now...

Where to?

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