A year ago I drove from Boston to Woods Hole and took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard for a first date with a girl named Katrina. We walked along the beach and she skipped rocks along the ocean surface like a pro. It was a breathless fast walking quick banter smiling and laughing really comfortable but with a stomach of butterflies kind of date. We kissed just before I ran onto the ferry as it was leaving and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
I moved to the island a few months later.
Yesterday was our one year anniversary. We walked on the same beach as our first date. It had just stopped raining, the fog was thick and the ferry was leaning on the foghorn as it entered the harbor. We walked out into the fog on a long pile of rocks and with the same butterflies in my stomach I asked her to marry me.
When I was twelve I lay awake at night dreaming of escaping my life. I wanted to get on my bike and cycle west to the Pacific ocean. I loved idea of having the freedom to choose to go left or right at any fork in the road.
Four years ago I was 39, single, and ready for an escape. I had a beautiful life but after 20 years of living in the same place I had not met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and was worried 20 more might go by with the same result.
I quit my job making video games and got rid of everything I owned and started my bike trip that I dreamed about as a twelve year old on Cape Cod, dipping my tires in the ocean. I biked along the Eerie Canal in upstate NY. Through Ohio on rails to trails paths. Down Mississippi along the Natchez Trace Parkway. I spent the winter in New Orleans getting to know my extended family. Texas was tough. New Mexico beautiful. In Colorado I lived at a whitewater rafting company for three weeks. I was a guest at a small music festival in Wyoming. I woke up to bison covered in snow in Yellowstone. I camped next to hot baths in Idaho. I helped a man find his son in Washington. I touched the Pacific ocean and cried.
I was invited into countless peoples homes and given food and shelter. I camped out in amazing places with coyotes yipping and yowling. I spent an endless amount of time alone with myself. It was everything my twelve year old self could have hoped for.
On May 5, 2014 I was in the Texas panhandle reading the daily listserve from my tent. It was from Wanderstomper asking for adventure ideas. I replied about how amazing bicycle adventures could be. For eight months we emailed back and forth hundreds of emails that eventually became each others life stories. For the first time I told someone what I was biking from. This is how I am writing from a place of peace and happiness today.
Wanderstomper, you are an incredible writer and artist and listener. I thank you so much. You helped me find peace.
I received notification that I won listserve a few hours before I proposed to Katrina and thought about the journey that brought me to this island on this particular day.
Amidst the fog horns and seagulls and ringing buoys Katrina excitedly said yes! While typing this I have the same butterfly stomach excitement as our first date. :)