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A Beginning.

I’m going to start on the left page because I’m unconventional.

That’s the first thing I wrote in my journal. Although it’s not the first thing I’d ever written in that specific journal, I was at the start of a new story. A new journey.

I’m in the airport in Chicago. It’s weird traveling alone, but at the same time it feels completely natural. Right now I just feel bleh…

I’m in the air! So far I’ve seen only friendly faces on this plane. I told a couple that I loved their hats. They were both wearing snapbacks with cool designs. I’m sitting next to an old couple in the last row of this plane. At least I’m in the aisle seat and close to the bathroom. Okay, I think I’m going to watch a movie.

While we boarded the plane there was music playing over the PA. The song was Yam Yam by No Vacation. I recognized it as a song that Jon* and I had loved to listen to in the car together. I had never particularly thought of that song as one of my favorites, but now that I was away on a voyage of my own, the familiarity of the tune filled me with fond memories and a sense of comfort.

Jon is my boyfriend. Leaving each other this year was something we both knew would come eventually. He has to finish school and I have to see the world. But as I’ve said before:

Together in heart, even when we’re apart.

Anyway, I can not wait until we can listen to our music together again.

I just finished watching the movie Ladybird. It was so beautiful and f***ing relatable. I cried my eyes out on the back of this airplane surrounded by people in the middle of the sky. It made me think about my life. Think about missing mom and missing Jon. Loving them. And how my going away will affect mom. Now my nose is running from crying. I even forgot that I was on a plane. I have to remember to text/call Rosa in Seattle.

Rosa was the wife of the couple that would host me for the next month. I’d later land in Seattle and catch a connecting flight to Pasco, Washington, where she and her husband Dave would pick me up. They’d drive me to their home in Long Creek, Oregon, stopping for lunch on the way.

I have to remember to add Terrified by Childish Gambino to my playlist. It’s good.

So, I just grabbed my sweatshirt from under the seat in front of me and noticed that it was wet. Ew. Then I realized that it was water leaking out of my Yeti… which was upside down. Woops. Anyway, we’re about thirty minutes from landing. I’m listening to Glass Animals. It’s great.

I traveled back in time. That’s because… I’M IN SEATTLE! I can’t see the sky needle though. Oh well. I had a banana, a granola bar, and some couscous salad for lunch. I got in contact with the Harrisons (my hosts) and they’re on their way to get Alice in Pendleton.

Alice was who I’d be rooming with for two weeks. She was from Kansas City and riding a Greyhound bus up from California. We planned our trips together, so that we’d both arrive on the same day. That way Rosa and Dave only had to make one trip. Their home was quite remote, so we ended up getting groceries on the ride back as well. Nothing like getting to know a family like going grocery shopping with them!

I’m going to be picked up by Dave’s sister Marie and then we’ll meet the others for lunch. Wait a minute… I just had lunch. Oh, I guess it’s only 10:30 am here. Jeez. Well, I guess I’ll have two lunches today. This is completely unrelated and random, but time goes strangely fast in airports.

Great. They just announced that there was a delay and that we’ll be taking off at 12:35. That means another hour and a half. Well, now we wait.

I just got my boarding pass for Pasco! Gosh, I forgot just how AMAZING Glass Animals were. Ugh, so good. Anyway, still waiting.

We’re on the plane! I’m so excited to meet Rosa and Alice. I wonder if this plane has a bathroom. I’m seat 13B, so I’m in the middle and it’ll be a short walk to the back. I feel like I might get a headache on this one. We’ll see.

Because my flight was delayed, Rosa and Dave were able to get to the airport in time to pick me up. They helped me find my checked bag and we piled into their car, ready for a long drive home.

Wow. A lot happened today. When I saw Rosa, Dave, and Alice waiting for me at the gate Rosa was holding a small sign that said Emma. When she saw me smile and wave, she said “You must be Emma!” The funny thing was that I’d seen a picture of Alice and I didn’t recognize her at all, but for some reason Rosa -who I’d never seen a picture of- looked exactly how I’d imagined her. We had lunch at Applebees in Pasco with Dave’s relatives and they told so many stories about traveling the world. They’ve been sooo many places!

I didn’t know this yet, but Dave was on business trips during 9 months out of the year, so he was well equipped with stories from his endless history of travels. Over the course of my stay he would become a wonderful friend and incredible resource for travel advice.

On the drive to Ritter (the actual town they live in, not Long Creek, which is on their address) we saw lots of horses, some cows, a grey fox or young coyote, and birds. It is a very long drive from any town to the farm. The property and surrounding land though, is beautiful. I’m so tired right now, but there’s so much to write, ahhhh. Their are two WWOOFers here other than Alice and I.

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Organization of Organic Farms and was the program I was working through. Basically, willing individuals exchange their work (usually about a 25 hour week) for room and board on farms around the world. It is an educational as well as cultural exchange. It’s an amazing concept geared toward building a global community conscious of ecological farming practices. So, we call ourselves “WWOOFers” and “WWOOF hosts”.

There’s Mikey from New Jersey, who’s been here since the beginning of July, and also Patricia. I can’t remember where she’s from.

Patricia was from central Oregon, I later found out. She was a mom of several children who’d grown up and she was now exploring her home state via organic farms. She was an excellent person to have a conversation with, unafraid to stray from comfortable small-talk topics. I admired how engaged and curious she remained, both during and after work, seeking out as many perspectives as possible.

For dinner we had pizza that we’d picked up in Pendleton. After cleaning up we all pilled into the car and Patricia’s jeep and drove the six miles to the hot springs. It was so nice. There was a pool warmed with geothermal heat. Up a path and across a super sketchy bridge were the hot baths.

Mikey, Patricia, and I sat in the light of the moon in the baths while the others swam in the pool below. I felt oddly disconnected yet content. I was so far removed from what my life had been just a day before, but I felt a certain attraction to these strangers whom I’d met only hours earlier, wanting to dive straight into deep conversation and get to know them down to their souls.

That night in bed I thought about the life I’d abruptly left behind and the life I was starting. It’s a weird concept, because really, it’s all the same life. No matter how far I go I’ll continue to be the same person, though fluid and changing. I thought about Jon and how being apart would change our relationship. Also, about how my relationship with my family would change. I felt inside a lukewarm mixture of security and raw fear.

Well, nighty night.

*Names and details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.