Over 6000 miles. 31 days. 19 states. 5 homes. 2 hotels. Every person I've ever met. Stops: Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Home.
It's about 6,400 miles from Loveland, Colorado to Qingdao, China. If that gives you any perspective.
Indianapolis- Went to my old church and enjoyed some incredible worship. Twice. Had great conversations with people from my old Bible study. Sat and talked about ministry and life with a fellow worship pastor. Stayed at the only hostel in the state of Indianapolis. Went to a friend's wedding. Saw friends from China.
Toledo- Spent time with a couple I used to work with in Florida. Treated like royalty. Shopped. Ate good food. Hung out with some sweet dogs. Rested. Enjoyed a beautiful back yard full of trees and flowers.
Virginia- Stayed with a family that I used to work with. Taught their kids (who are now grown...yikes!) These boys will probably rule the world someday. Or be rich and famous. One or the other. Staying with them felt like family. They're salt-of-the-earth kind of people. We laughed a lot. Set off fireworks. Went putt-putting (I won by the way). Ate fresh fruits and vegetables from their amazing garden. And home-made ice cream. HOME-MADE! Got to say good-bye to sweet little Sarah-dog.
Florida- Moved in to a house, worked with her, taught a couple of the sons, great friends, like family. I had a lizard for a roommate. Celebrated the 4th with them. Laughed and played a lot. It was like being in my own home. Love these people. Got to see a lot of people. Sang at church a few times. Met friends for coffee, found closure, talked about moving to Africa. Went to the beach and the pool. Got a bit of a tan. Ate delicious Cuban food. Game night with my game-night friends. Lots of lunches and dinners with good people. Great conversations, hard learning experiences. Saw some good movies. Listened to great music. Read some interesting books. Sang with some of my favorite people. Slept in, stayed up late, kept really busy. Karaoke, dancing, laughter, fun. Saw old co-workers, best friends, favorite people, a healthy church, my pastor, students, "family", new friends.
Alabama- One of my best friends from college and former roommate when I lived in Indianapolis. Shopped, ate, talked, reminisced. Got to know the new husband a bit better. A time of catch-up.Another friend, a mentor. A delicious lunch and laughs about my Scarlet Fever. A short but well-worth-it stop.
Tennessee- My old roommate from Florida. Knows me better than most people. I'm the most ridiculous version of myself with her. The biggest one-upper I know. And I love it. Went swimming, grilled out, hung out with Diego dog. Again, a brief but fantastic visit.
I'm a quality-timer and this trip was filled with a lot quality time with some of my closest friends, with people who've made some of the biggest impacts on my adult life. A lot of laughter, reminiscing, deep conversations, a few tears, reaffirming of the bond of friendship, some growth and some closure.
I spent most of my time exhausted. It's just a lot of work to do all that talking and soul searching and working out of things. Necessary and truly uplifting but hard work. I've learned about myself that I'm a closet introvert. I know this may surprise many of you but it's true. I love people. I love building relationships. I love getting to know new people. But I must have time to recharge or I just become a dud. And I'm afraid that by the end of my trip, I was a little less outgoing, a little less shiny and sparkly. When you're with other people literally 24/7 (except the 100 hours of driving...which also wore me out), it tends to take a toll. But the truth is, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm so glad I got to see every person I did, visit every place I went to, spend as much time with people as I did. Yah, it was tiring but I don't care about that for my sake. I just felt bad for those that weren't able to see the normal me.
Maybe if I ever do this kind of trip again (yah right!), I'll go in the opposite order.
To be continued...