Exiting the subway and walking up the steps to the crossroads of Clark and Division in Chicago, I finally felt for the first time in over half a year that I was going home. I was surrounded by the familiar sights and sounds of the city, and the crisp, cold wind reminded me that I was no longer in sunny California. I followed the same path I would normally take towards my apartment, but that wasn’t where I was going–after all, that apartment has a new tenant, and most of the items that used to fill it are in boxes in a basement in Michigan.
No, this time I was going to the spa in the building next door to get a massage. I’d never had one before, but I figured if ever I deserved to pamper myself with a massage this was surely the time. The masseuse commented on my out-of-season tan, and I told her I had just finished walking across the country. I spent the next hour lying there face down on the table telling stories of my many adventures (and misadventures) of the last six months, interrupted by the occasional groan of pain as she’d knead a new area of my body, tightly knotted from over 3,400 miles of abuse. Afterward, she told me that I had just become her all-time number one most interesting client, and wondered how she was going to make it through the next few days with all of the clients that were sure to be boring in comparison. And it made me wonder: how was I going to get through the next few years of my life?
It’s been over a week now since I completed my goal of crossing America on foot, but I still can’t wrap my head around the magnitude of what I’ve done. My family put together a victory party fundraiser in my honor last weekend, and even after being told by many friends, family members, and strangers about what an incredible accomplishment this is, I don’t feel much different. In fact, that final day when I reached the Pacific was somewhat anticlimactic. I had imagined that moment at least a hundred times during the journey, and each time I thought about it I would feel a rush of energy as I pictured myself taking those first steps into the ocean. Perhaps that’s why the actual event didn’t have the same effect–I’d already been here one hundred times before.
Now the only question left unanswered is “What’s next?” Initially I started this journey to answer that question, but now I find myself even further from an answer. I’ve seen many new places, met a lot of interesting people, and opened myself up to new possibilities. I’m uncertain what the future holds for me, but does anybody ever really know?