I suppose officially my gap year ended today with my first class, but I've felt a change for awhile now. My mindset in the gap year was one of free decisions and seeing where the next day took me. However, as I went to scheduled jobs during the summer and waded through administrative emails from Emory, I felt the carefree feeling drifting away to wander where he would. That unassuming feeling has been a wonderful companion the past 12 months, and I think he'll be back again when I need to wander again. And wander again I will.
Actually, I was quite free-spirited in my last three weeks of summer. I made my way to Seattle, Montana, Wisconsin,and down to Atlanta on a combination of cars, train, and truck. One of my favorite parts about America is that you can drive for days in one general direction and still have more to see. It's all as big as the Montana sky and full of people and places to inspire and entertain.
This extended road trip was perfect because I spent it with so many people who I love (certainly not all of them, but a good amount for three weeks time). I drove, rode, hiked, swam, ate, and laughed with parents, lifelong neighbors, newlywed friends, and many others. I was lucky enough to return home to Seattle and walk some familiar paths and smile with some familiar faces. In short, it was a pretty damn good epilogue to this chapter of the journey.
For both the last road trip and the entire year, I have to display a HUGE thank you for everyone who made this year formative, treasured, and incredible. The list would go on and on, but you all know who you are and I appreciate every little thing and every big thing you helped with. This year could not even have started without your support, kindness, knowledge, and love. Thank you.
I want to end with something that will sound pretty corny, but in the end I believe to be true about this year. Folks often posit the idea of, "If you had one (week, month, year etc.) to live, what would you do?" For most of my life, my answer to this question would be drastically different from the events of any previous year. But looking back on this year, my answer would be, "I'd do what I did." By no means was the year perfect. There were moments of doubt in my direction, times of aching loneliness, and farewells that I never wanted to say. But in the end, the year was full of experiences ranging from gut wrenching to wonderful. It was a year of life and everything that makes it good.