Walking in from CO. and three days of snow laced with biting wind, I feel as though I have fallen into a furnace. Heat? This warmth, I know from past summer, is nothing. I buy a fresh bottle of white vinegar to cool my feet and the smell of sweat, and pack up all the food I can preserve in the growing heat to last me to Moab, Utah, just under sixty miles up the road, a road that divides my new world into of a palette of sand tones and rock that snubs gravity with boulders stacked to the sky in arches that makes me hold my spine just to admire them.
The road getting here has been a long chain of climbing up mountainsides that never let me walk down. Climbing, and more climbing, that pay off in fields of trees and the smell of Vermont in the spring coming up from the damp earth. Leaving Farmington, NM was the first time that anyone turned out to walk the journey with me. Very Forrest Gump. I had been on the local radio stations for several days talking to the Navajo Nation, as well as the people off the reservation on the f.m dial. When the morning came to leave I had a warm croud of smiling people to walk into the early morning air with. It was a walk first well worth waiting for that lasted hours longer than I thought it would... and still, it was still hard to watch them drive away. Cars and trucks traveling past throughout the day honked their support, and it was good humor for me to watch my new companions (that lasted half the day), huff and puff up a nice little mountain that twenty months of walking allowed me to overlook.
It was the Navajo people that came out in force to bring me water when road offered nothing, and after I was held sick huddled under the road for three days and nights, returning finally to the above world drained of water and all the heart energy I usually carry. Day after day a smiling family I never met before brought me staples from their world, even KFC, and talked of their lives in hogans without electricity or conventional stoves, took pictures, gave me arrowheads for protection, and tied blue stones around my neck. I was given many of their names to carry so that I had to write them down or lose them as I have so many things not tied down. Some faces that found me on the side of the road appeared disappointed that my skin was not red enough, or that I did not fill some mental image they carried of a mountain of a man that braves thousands of miles of danger without flinching. I flinch.
Most people that saw me smiled warmly, and that was enough. A blind Navajo elder ordered her family to take her granddaughter to find me when she heard me on the radio. She held my hands through the open car window as she cried when her granddaughters found me. She told me about the darkness of her own youth as she rubbed the back of my hands and pushed her words into my blood through my skin. She gave me two quarters and two pennies I found no way not to take, and I listened to her for many days after she drove away, and even dreampt we spoke in Navajo together and laughed until I woke up over a joke she told me. I woke up only knowing that we laughed.
Before I began this walk everything I held as self sacred was placed on the words of my father, a father that wasn't. We all need to belong, to be somebody, anybody. An inner structure has been rebuilding in me over these miles though. A grand side effect of the walk has been the building up of stone within me that does not worry about the motar of blood being from one people over another, or the type of knives my grandfathers wore when they went off to war. I have watched alot of fringe fall away from the sleeve of my coat no longer with concern. I have walked nearly six thousand miles because I said long ago that I would. Reguardless of where I come from, and what I have walked through, I am becoming real. I am coming home inside. I am coming home to someone that I have never been.