I’ve done so much this year, been so many places and seen so many things, and now I’m back where I started and things are dif­fer­ent but the same. In a way, I lived in so many lives while I was away, stay­ing with so many peo­ple, and never in one place for very long. If, in leav­ing, we open our­selves up to the world and all its pos­si­bil­i­ties, we must also renounce the lives we’ve been liv­ing and accept what­ever comes our way. This is the great les­son of travel, learned not from Eat, Pray, Love but from expe­ri­ence, and there­fore much more mean­ing­ful: that every­thing is okay as it is, that everything’s per­fect, or, more accu­rately, that every­thing will be okay how­ever it hap­pens to turn out. And in renounc­ing our lives we have to fig­ure out what’s left when that’s not a lot, when all of our crap is packed away in boxes in some­one else’s base­ment and we’re com­pletely alone in a for­eign coun­try with no itin­er­ary. We hatch plans and then the wind blows us this way any­way and every­thing turns out per­fectly. Or it turns out dif­fer­ently than we wanted, but it turns out any­how. It seems big and impos­si­ble and lonely and scary crazy to travel alone, espe­cially to travel alone as a woman, but it’s the most nat­ural thing in the world. It will be big and impos­si­ble and lonely and scary crazy, but it will work out any­way. You will worry about money and you will get teary and your breath will catch in your throat when­ever some­one you’ve met along the way and come to rely on leaves you alone again until you don’t any­more. And you might spend all your money and you might find your­self dri­ving around an enter­tain­ing DUI felon per­pet­u­ally hold­ing a Red Bull in one hand and a joint in the other and who even other Alaskans describe as a “psy­cho” after answer­ing a Craigslist ad look­ing for a Female Sidekick/Adventurer/Driver, of which you appar­ently are all four, and you might find your­self on an adven­ture hol­i­day with eleven ten-year-olds and a weath­ered skip­per who tries to kiss you the night before sail­ing off on a seventeen-foot yacht for five days, dur­ing which time you will stu­diously try to avoid mak­ing eye con­tact with said skip­per, through all sev­en­teen feet, and some­time before you’re back on dry land and he’s taken you to task for your behav­ior and said he’s not sorry for his, you will be stand­ing at the front of the boat (is that the bow, or the stern, or the helm?) in some of the less-traveled waters of New Zealand, and the sun will be shin­ing and the rain will be pour­ing and the wind will be whip­ping and the skip­per will be at the wheel bark­ing along to Bob Marley’s “Buf­falo Sol­dier” play­ing loudly over the back of the boat, “Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,” and the eleven ten-year olds will be hud­dled in their life jack­ets there in front of the over­lap­ping ridges of Stew­art Island’s moun­tains fad­ing shad­owy gray with a rain­bow arc­ing out over all of it, dou­ble at times and so, so vibrant. You might find your­self in that one per­fect moment and real­ize how lucky every­thing is, and how unlikely, and you might find your­self, and that might be the point. And you’ll get back to whatever’s left of the life you left behind and you’ll make more money and you’ll fill in the rest and it will all have been so incred­i­bly worth your while.