Jumpy. That’s how I felt—like a skittish deer who thought she could make a break for the other side of the freeway, changed her mind at the very last second, and leapt back from the road to narrowly avoid a semi truck.
Walk it off, girl. You’ve got this.
I absolutely did not have this. Whatever “this” is, it was not in my possession.
What I did have was anxiety, exhaustion, amped-up control issues, and one too many existential questions bearing down on my chest.
Light cut through the window as I managed my fidgeting with another sip of coffee. It had been 72 hours since I resigned from my company, 48 hours since two former colleagues approached me to help them start a new company, and 24 hours since I had settled on what I needed to ask for if I was going to accept a job at said company.
If my mind struggled for the words to articulate what I was carrying, my tense shoulders, tight chest, and an intermittent tingling sensation above my left ear all spoke my truth: I needed to find a way to breathe deeply again.
And knowing me, breathing deeply wasn’t going to return in a typical office setting.
The performer within cringed a bit at my plan; the romantic was near bursting with excitement.
“How did you feel about the offer letter?” I snapped my eyes up from the coffee at the sound of my boss’s question. “Did you have any concerns?”
“Yes—well, I mean no, it was very nice but—um, yes, I did have a question.”
“What’s up?” my colleagues smiled at me.
Take a breath.
“The past couple of months have been a lot, and I feel like, to be me again, I could use some space to work remotely for a few weeks. I’d like to travel for part of June and July. I’ll handle my workload, Skype in for meetings, and re-center a bit. What would you think about that?”
I squeezed my coffee cup, modulating my emotion over the enormity of the ask. Who requests a month remote time from a brand new job? Much less for a start up?!
My friends didn’t even pause to look at one another. “That sounds great! Where are you going to go?”
Where am I going to go?
I can’t say the words without smiling.
The road has to start in Memphis. Blues music, barbecue, old friends, and sacred college haunts. I’ll spend a little time with the girl I was a decade ago—so sure of herself and her medical aspirations. I’ll spend a little time with the broken but delightfully innocent poet that girl became.
Then I’ll make my way to the Smokies. A cabin tucked in the forest will to shelter me from city lights and city sounds and city worries. I’ll listen and write and run along forest trails. I’ll lay outside on the deck and stare straight up into the spilt milky stream of stars.
From there, North Carolina will bestow her rich Southern comforts upon me: an introduction to a best friend’s baby in need of cradling, multiple run-ins with the best handmade donuts in the world, and enough library books to swallow me in literary bliss.
Virginia Beach promises cocktails and sandy sunburns, poet talks and perfect walks among the hydrangea bushes.
I’ll continue the climb Northward, stopping for friends and colleagues along the way in Baltimore, Princeton, and Concord.
Then, passport-issuing authorities willing, the trip will conclude in a turn of the century French-style inn in old Toronto.
Sharing the itinerary with my bosses, I wondered if they could comprehend how much hope I’d pooled in each city of the trip, each face I knew I’d find along the way. There is much more than a job shift to hold as the road before me unfurls.
It’s a road for processing another cross-country move of my family, and dreaming of a new manuscript I’ve kicked off. It’s a road for celebrating some hard emotional work I’ve done, and the health that’s flowed from that work. It’s a road for owning that my life gets to include road trips, and my heart is thirsty for them.
I’m learning to step into becoming all over again.
My life is about holding one friend’s baby and sipping another friend’s cocktail, vagrantly roaming across the earth and then waking up fresh-faced to write about it. My life means feeling a little lonely, because no one is quite where I’m at, but feeling a little bit lucky too.
This summer, life is about going, because I work for a couple of great men who told me to take to the road.
We’ll see where the journey leads and hope for what the journey holds.
For now, I’ll breathe in the possibilities.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 27 year old seminary student, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called Will I Break?, and someday, that manuscript may see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.