1. Journey West, No Turning Back

Blog 1: Sept. 12, 1996—I hear the clock ticking, the cicadas buzzing to a different time outside my family home in New Jersey. The steam evaporates along the rim of the cup I am holding. It is nighttime. It is quiet for three seconds, it seems. I feel emptiness.

I hold the resonance of Patricia’s words in my gut. I shared dinner with her, her husband
(both from South America), and my parents tonight. Patricia held my hand, looked me in the eyes, and asked me with Latin warmth and knowing why I was going west. Why not Spain? She asked. She knew I had loved Spain as a child, had always wanted to return there because it had felt like the only home I had known. I told her I had promised myself I’d go back when I had something to give, and not until then. You don’t have to limit yourself, she reminded me.

Tonight, at the kitchen table, I know she is right. I cry. I’m going west because a part of me wants to start fresh, have a new beginning, where judgment and rules don’t follow me. But I feel the illusion of this idea that, light and free, I can follow my spirit’s longing—the one I carried as a child in the fields of Spain—out west. And Patricia seems the only one who’s not applauding me for my ability to pick up and go and create life a thousand times over as I’ve done so many times in my stubborn way.

As I sit at my parent’s kitchen table, I cry. I ask, for this moment, that I be the kind of frail that’s strong but asks for true insights that don’t come from answers but from hearing my heart and listening to its needs. I listen. But my journey is tomorrow.  I am going west, and not east, not across the Atlantic Ocean toward Spain, to my heart’s home.



23 thoughts on “1. Journey West, No Turning Back

  1. You’ve got me thinking about your journey, and the journeys we all take throughout our lives that lead us to unexpected places of joy and grief, of befuddlement and enlightenment. When I think about journeying, I think of feet and how they connect us to the earth — which makes me think of words like these.

    The duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.

    – Federico Garcia Lorca

    I love your feet
    only because they walked
    upon the earth and upon
    the wind and upon the waters,
    until they found me.

    – Pablo Neruda

    The Neruda passage is from his poem Your Feet. It’s especially dear to me because I recited it in both Spanish and English to beautiful Sarah on our second wedding anniversary.

    I think about feet and wonder: Is it our hearts that lead our feet to journey where they do, or is it really the earth telling our feet to open our hearts?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing of yourself and your journey. I just read this entry. I also embarked in a similar fashion, two years ago when I decided to do something completely different and illogical; and left California on a one way ticket out, with just $200 in my pocket. “Check out Sedona, I heard it has spiritual stuff.” ringing in my head. Just as much as a destination as any. I have never been to Spain before, but am looking forward to visiting and getting to know Spain when I start my year of walking the Caminos in Europe in 2017.


    • Peter, thanks for joining on this journey, and for your comments. Are you going to walk Camino de Santiago? And if so, how far are you walking? I would love to do that, although my body isn’t up to that level of walking right now.


      • Hi Michelle! I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, as well as many of the other 800 or so Caminos that mesh throughout Europe SOMETIME in 2017. I plan to do a year of just walking and see how much I can see, experience, live. There is a local chapter of the American Pilgrims’ Association here in town that does meetings, group activities, and walks.


  3. What a wonderful quest and intention you carry to walk caminos throughout Europe. Sounds wonderful. I look forward to hearing more about it, and when you begin planning these adventures. If your legs and body are strong, walking is a great way to be with the earth and ourselves.


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