— Jenny Neill


I hit the road for all sorts of reasons this year: to drum up new business, to meet people, to reconnect with family and friends, and to escape certain realities. This year has been tough. Not for the obvious reasons. I haven’t lost someone close to me and I still have a roof over my head. I eat well and take great comfort in my relationship with my most beloved.

Light shines through icy branches of a tree

Photo courtesy of Mike Russell All rights reserved.

The truth is I’ve also been running from some personal stuff. I’ve cried a lot of scared, lonely, and sad tears for what’s been happening in the lives of some people I love deeply this year. I may one day become the sort of writer who can share how their stories affect me with honor and integrity. I’m not her yet.

My travels acted as a release valve for me. A way to get away, to see things from a different place, to feel things that have nothing to do with those situations I can’t control. A way to enjoy living. I walked a lot. I laughed, I cheered, I shouted. I bonded with new friends and reignited old friendships with people I don’t see nearly often enough.

Seven trips in total, the furthest I went was to Cleveland, a much-needed pilgrimage home to where I grew up. I dreaded flying because I’ve grown accustomed to the relative ease and comfort of riding the rails. And going back to Ohio is always fraught with the perils of juggling the schedule to be sure to see all three sets of parents: Mom, Dad and stepmom, and the in-laws. This time, we stayed almost a week to fit in time with friends and some extended family too.

Of all the journeys I took this year, this one surprised me the most. My experiences there this time proved in many little intangible and invisible ways that love is best when no conditions are placed upon it.