I've been thinking about walking a lot, particularly the long distance walking I did every day on the Camino de Santiago last spring. I can't believe it's been almost a year since we did that. I still haven't written about our trip here and I can't find my journal from our travels last spring. I haven't written about what an amazing experience it was because I don't think I fully got to process it. We didn't get to work out what we learned about ourselves as individuals and as a couple in those 32 days and across those 500 miles. Because when we returned to Korea, I got pregnant. I didn't know it until a few weeks later and we had already moved to Seoul and were working out a new plan. And the Camino got pushed into the background and everything became horribly twisted as I entered into the first sixteen weeks of all-day sickness and general malaise.
Yesterday I was walking back from a quick trip to the store for ice cream for another midnight marathon of Parenthood with Kenny, and I wanted to just keep on walking. I wanted to walk past our room in my parents-in-law's house, past our favorite neighborhood cafe, and past the city limits. I wanted to just keep moving, to get back to that place where I felt the earth sliding underneath me, felt I was moving forward, and felt I was earning each day. I wanted to walk myself back to a place of authenticity, a place of vulnerability. That place where I started each morning on that ancient trail with a doubt that I could make it to the next destination, but a tiny mustard-seed of faith in my legs and my feet. The place where you walk past the pain, past the weariness, and past the hunger. I want to walk into a place where I feel fully myself again. I know that will take time and effort and sweat and probably a lot of sighing, sobbing, and cursing. But I am finally ready to get back to work.
I feel I took my entire pregnancy "off." I wasn't working; I wasn't writing; I wasn't committed to anything except my donut-a-day addiction. I'm ready to figure out a way to be my entire self: mother, wife, daughter, sister, and just me. I'm writing this while Jude naps. I would normally be sleeping now, too. But this feels good. I can't walk for 25 kilometers a day with a huge pack on my back, trailing behind my husband and eventually catching up with him to take our shoes off and rest in the warm Spanish sunshine. But I can write for however many minutes Jude will sleep, and I can welcome my husband home with joy and gratefulness tonight.
For 32 days, I walked a trail that millions have walked before me. I walked from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. And even when I reached that cathedral and sat in the pilgrim's service and watched the largest censer in the world swinging back and forth, filling the nave with incense, I wondered what I had walked towards.
This. This is what I walked toward. I had no idea, but I was walking toward my son, toward my life as a mother. And toward myself. I walked toward 3 am feedings and insatiable appetites and quick words between spouses and tender moments between naps. I walked toward this moment that I'm living. This imperfect, trembling, unstable, but entirely beautiful and full moment.
And now, I keep walking. I keep writing.
I hope you keep reading.