Four months ago today, a plane from Denver touched down in Edmonton. I grabbed my backpack and started walking between the rows of seats, Jenny restless at my side. A member of the cabin crew welcomed me home, and I stopped for a moment and cried tears of joy and relief and exhaustion, realizing that I was really and truly home.

My friend Keith picked me up from the airport and listened to me yammer on and on about the places I’d been and the people I’d met and the good, the bad, and the ugly of my trip. When he dropped me off at my front door, I soaked in the silence of the place I call home. When Ben arrived a little while later, we compared notes about our trips, swapped souvenirs, and hung art and mementos on the walls.

Over the next few months, my life shifted in some unexpected ways. I joined a support group that also sometimes played board games. I signed up for my second half-marathon (in Edmonton… in February… what was I thinking?), and started training for it. I did a couple of craft shows with my jewelry business, with mixed success. As my social world blossomed and grew, Ben and I came to terms with the truth that our marriage was over. We have always been great friends, and we have set ourselves up to continue to be so in the future. We wish each other nothing but joy and peace and happiness; and, no, I’m not just saying that.

Over the past four months, I’ve heard from a few folks from my journey. Jeff, my guide runner from Great Falls, pops up occasionally with a smile in his messages. Leesa, my guardian angel from Bozeman, messages me regularly; I’ve also stayed in sporadic touch with my Bozeman host. I hear from Jay and Emily, my guides for my first half-marathon in Billings, from time to time; last I heard, Jay has a new puppy that’s keeping him busy. Aziza (from Denver) and I stay in touch online, as do Robin (from Seattle) and I. Ken, my guide through Yellowstone, loved the blog post I wrote (he’s biased; he took the pics). James, from the Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne, popped by my blog to say hello. And Ray, my pottery instructor from Whitefish, is on to some new adventures of his own; and (even though I can’t prove it) I think he’s the one who sent me the pieces we made together, all glazed and pretty… they arrived after one of the darkest nights of my life, just before Christmas.

The Intrepid Journey 2018 prepared me for this current place of peace I find myself. Those pianos I played in Billings and Cheyenne helped me fall in love with my own piano – for the first time since we bought it. Accepting rides from random strangers in Butte, Helena, and Bozeman helped me remember that we are given intuition about people, and I should use it in other life interactions. I rediscovered how to dust myself off when everything hits the skids, and keep on going. I learned to push myself when I’ve got a little more in the tank, to smile more, to listen to stories, to take a deep breath and tell my own. I don’t know that I would be who I am today if I hadn’t decided, riding in a Nissan down a Montana highway, to take a risk and travel alone, on my terms, in places where I didn’t know a soul. Before I left, before Jenny went for emergency surgery, before I had any true idea what I was in for, I bought a display for my race bib to commemorate my first half-marathon. It hangs on a wall in my house, where you can see it as you walk in the front door, or as you enter and leave the kitchen. I chose, after thoughtful consideration, to customize it with these words that proved to be prophetic:
The Intrepid Journey 2018
Stronger than You Think