this is living

I've always loved the idea of travel. There are machines created to feasibly close the gap of distance between you and the people you love, or the places you've dreamed of laying eyes on. I grew up to realize it was possible to go and see, so I went.

Now, not all ferry rides run smoothly, nor planes unshaken by turbulence. And not all car rides end up being magical- but this one was.

Clemson to Knoxville, a brief stint in West Lafayette, and the bulk of our time in the suburbs of Chicago. Onward to Nashville, and back where we began. 

All the moments are floating around in my head. The shared bags of sour patch kids, the old Mat Kearney songs sung loud, and the way it felt to mesh so effortlessly into lives far from home. They're scrambling to be etched somewhere. But how do I do that? Rewrite it all? No.

What I do know, is that I have stories frozen in time, punctuated with prayer, soundtracked by the best.

And they'll all tell you this: I felt more free than before; I felt life to the full.

Most of our time was spent here, the in between. The October foliage was arriving as we passed through. Tennessee mountains, Kentucky farmlands, plains of Indiana, and many a Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors album. 

Downtown - Macklemore

Mason Dixon Line - Judah & the Lion

Monsters of the North - The National Parks

I felt like this the whole train ride. It was quiet, eyes glued to the window with every stop. Excitement built as the city appeared in the distance, songs about dreams stuck in my head.

Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold - The Lone Bellow

We stepped out of Union Station, laughing about how tourists gawk at this giant bean-shaped mirror and take pictures of themselves. Laughing more so because we were en route to do the very same thing. Still laughing as we lay on the filthy ground below, staring up at our own reflections.

Paper Planes - M.I.A.

Skyscrapers make me feel small the same way the ocean does. Skyscrapers during the golden hour make me stop in my tracks. I was grateful to slow after miles to Navy Pier and back, to waltz the streets inside the city I'd only just seen from afar.

Trap Queen - Fetty Wap

Mercy! You Need Saving - Neulore

Sunday we were stuck in the suburbs- I didn't mind. A quote on the wall of Blackberry Market reminded me of community, and that night I felt it. The sun sank low over the prairie path and we bounced between the old red barn and white house, playing songs and letting dusk settle.

Wary Bones - Old Hours

Nothing But Trouble - Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors

And that night I realized that Kelsey isn't just Brianna's friend that I met one time last winter. She's my friend too. 

Ledges - Noah Gundersen

PORTRAIT I: Brianna and I's friendship was founded on travel just after Jesus. There's no other companion I'd rather have next to me exuding peace and patience, providing directions better than Siri can, or harmonizing with each song on my latest curated playlist. She makes me weird- the very best kind of weird. 5 days in the car reminded me of just how beautiful a person she is.

I Want to be Free - Ellie Holcomb

PORTRAIT II: I met Kelsey on the last day of 2014. We rang in the new year together, strangers, yet I felt I'd known her longer. Now I do. She is kind, and so genuinely excited. I knew we were friends as she took us up to her favorite spot in Wheaton, and as we spoke of music: Noah Gundersen and José Gonzalez. I think it a privilege to have seen her city and her home, and more a privilege to call her friend.

Head in the Snow (acoustic) - Asgeir

PORTRAIT III: I don't willingly step in front of the lens alone often. Well, ever really. Yet I barely even remember this being captured from sheer loss. I was free. Free!  No longer attentive to insecurities or doubts. Alive! I felt alive, and I'll wish it for all seven billion of us on the earth for the rest of our days.

Second Child, Restless Child - The Oh Hello's

We rose with the sun on Monday, goodbyes said, off to traverse the barren state of Illinois for more hours than I'd care to. We left different. Better, I think.

Ireland - Liza Anne

Time Will Tell - Gregory Alan Isakov

This city's my favorite one. I walk its streets and feel new. Sweet Nashville, Tennessee felt more like home than usual. Gathered 'round a table over burgers, unforeseen friendships forged. I've never felt so free to figuratively kick off my shoes or to [literally] laugh loud that quickly. My favorite part of the city may have been painted over, and Barista Parlor no longer sells poptarts, but that'll never deter my dreams- I'll be back!

Stitches - Shawn Mendes

Nashville - Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors

Natchez Trace was quiet. I felt invited to walk the double yellow lines, to spin around in between gazes towards the rows of powerlines. Also, I was over the moon about a much-anticipated reunion with Chick-fil-a.

Natchez Trace - Friendly Savages

Old Ties and Companions - Mandolin Orange

Unsure at first, I conceded to taking the unknown route home. We drove it slow, and oh, was it beautiful! Each roadside sign begged us to stop, to take in the mountain air, so we did. Pines lined the path down to the tiny beach. Couldn't help but stick my bare feet on the surface of the cool water.

Blue Above the Green - Mike Edel

Down In The Valley - The Head and the Heart

Last stop before home, the only tree I've ever boldly climbed. We didn't talk much. Just swung, hoping to draw out the unreal freedom we'd tasted. Marvelling at the stories we'd lived. I realized this. is. living. 

Trees - The Oh Hello's

In a Tree - Priscilla Ahn

Almost Home - Ben Rector

Slow It Down - The Lumineers

Back Home Ballers (SNL) - Ya Girlz