No matter how many times I’ve done it in the past, no matter how prepared I think I am, or how strong I want to be, the saying goodbye between me and my family always hurts my soul. I’d been back in Dallas for almost two years, the longest amount of time over the past ten years. I’d re-established myself as the helpful brother and son. My family was once again able to count on me at any given moment. Whether it was helping out my Mom in the kitchen or at her shop, filling in for my Dad at his office, or being up at the gym with my sister, Delaney, at the ass crack of dawn five days a week. Whatever the task, I was ready and willing. And since Ashlie and I began dating, she was there with me every step of the way. Every onion that had to be chopped, every 5 a.m. wake-up call that had to be answered. Contrary to what I’d envisioned upon returning home two short years ago, I’d slowly fell back into a comfortable little life back home.
So, when it was once again time to condense and compartmentalize my entire life into a single backpack, the familiar emotions of joy, adventure and adrenaline were certainly present, but also mirrored by feelings of sadness and uncertainty. May the heavens forbid, but what if we are halfway across the world and something fatal happens to one of our loved ones?
Obviously the what if game can be played by anyone, from anywhere, at anytime. However, when you actually are on the other side of the planet for extended periods of time, a deep seeded recognition builds that if an accident were to happen and I needed to be home at that exact moment, my decision to continue to travel, to live a life so far removed from the ones I love most – could be a decision that comes back to haunt me for the rest of my life.
And no matter how good I get at dismissing or discrediting those frightening thoughts, when the time comes to say goodbye, they ultimately regenerate themselves back into my brain. Consequently, with this in mind, I do my damnedest to squeeze all the love and adoration I have into every parting hug and goodbye. My family has always been extremely supportive of me and my lifestyle. So along with the hugs and goodbyes, I give the deepest and most sincere amount of gratitude and appreciation for their years of continued encouragement, love and support.