It was an evening spent on the front porch of the Rad Pad with Erik and Fish, consulting cigars and ale. Rad Pad is the misleadingly casual name given to a house perched on a hill in the desert, one part ranch, one part rustic museum and one part bachelor pad. We munched and sipped and watched the sun drift behind the Cascades, and waxed philosophic about life, the universe and everything. It was on this porch, swinging in flying chairs while listening to a gurgling pond to be filled with flesh-eating goldfish, that I may have finally come to a decision.
I will run. I will bound to the horizon and wrest the sun out of the sky. It has been a terrific journey thus far, but I’m just getting warmed up. I know not what will satisfy the wanderlust, not where my restless feet will carry me, but I know that the resolve is now strong enough that it will be somewhere. Somewhere new. Something different. The passion for life is insatiable and I am not ready to curl my toes into the soil and call it good. Not yet.
Like all things worthwhile, this will be difficult. The mere thought of uprooting from Bend, of leaving behind my mountains, rivers and sage, tightens my gut. The depth of this landscape exceeds my most vivid dreams. I don’t know if I have the stomach to say goodbye to my friends again. Hopkins. Duluth. Ihduhapi. Hood River. Everywhere I travel I have found an incredible group of people to laugh with, to lean on, to cry over. The closest friends have been the ones who can see the soul, and they are the ones who understand the wanderlust. They understand that in moving on I am not leaving them, but completing myself. To them there are no sad goodbyes, only happy reunions. It is these friends who form the core of my being; I know that without their support I could never do any of this, and for them I am eternally grateful.
I will bow out gracefully. For how much I lose whenever I leave home, the gains have always been infinitely greater. There are wild swaths of life that I would never have crossed had I decided that a particular somewhere was good enough. I have left great things in my wake, a few good stories, and a legend or two. Wherever it is, I am always welcome. I can always go home.
My time in Bend has been the longest I have lived in one place since leaving my hometown nest of eighteen years. I have been here long enough for all my flesh and bone to renew itself and absorb into my body the desert sun, the churning rivers, the pungent juniper. Molecule for molecule, I have transformed into the landscape I love. I am living in, and I have become, everything I have always wanted.
And hence the growing itch in my back, to shoulder a pack again and venture into the wild. I know that there are new things to experience, more adventures to be had, and I shake with nervous anticipation of what the coming years will hold. I will not feign knowledge of the future, but I know that I am in control of this life and can take it wherever I wish.
We will run. We will transform this body into a Force of Terrible Reckoning. We will climb Mount Hood this fall and we will see what comes next.