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Insights at Basecamp – When Life Gives You Tomatoes...

I hide-out in the basement, hiding from the secret shame of returning home with my tail between my legs, hiding from my naïve hope and glee for a bold journey. I've been thwarted, cross-country mission aborted.

I’m down today; so I'm thinking this way. Body aching, exhausted, almost broken by the upheaval of five moves in four months, I wonder if I just don’t have the adventure in me any longer.

I try to concentrate over the pounding of footsteps over my head, the sound of people going places, with purpose, from the kitchen to dining room to living room, my living room, my 100-year old pine floors.

A fountain of tears spurts from my eyes as I try to reason with myself. If I were back upstairs, the queen of my own palace again, would I not be too comfortable to venture off, to continue the journey I prepared for and dreamed of, for which I still holdout hope?

Would I not, undeniably, remain stuck?

With that alarming word echoing in the cave of my mind, I get up from the desk, grasping my lower back and massaging into the gnarl that won’t seem to subside. I pull on my shoes and hobble out of the darkness into the cloudy-bright light of day. Crossing the road, I enter the sanctuary of woods and wind down the path I’ve been walking for 24 years.

I still cannot believe I am back. I was meant to be treading trails through deserts and canyons of the Southwest by now. In this park, I hardly need to watch my footing, I know the terrain so well.

As I reach the creek, the sky opens up and raindrops patter down on me. But I don’t care: I look up, invite the rain to soak me, cleanse me, clear my head.

At the footbridge, ­I stop in my tracks. The part of the path had been close for months, under construction, before I left. I blink and notes a slight smile spread across my face, the first in days, maybe weeks. Now here’s a welcome change: the bike path is widened, slick and smooth, a bright yellow line painted down the middle.

I feel a spring in my step, almost forget the nag in my lumbar, as forge ahead on this newly paved old path. I nod to fellow passing peds and cyclists, room for all of us, just as a miracle thought enters my head: Maybe it’s not going backwards; maybe I’m just where I need to be.

Arriving home, descending the stairs, I try to carry that hope into my humble basement abode. Gazing across the room through be-speckled glasses, I notice, on the kitchen windowsill a row of four plump red tomatoes positioned to attract any tiny rays of sun they can get down here, and a happy basil plant, leaves dancing in the wisp of breeze.

I crack another smile, this one a sly grin of recognition: I’ve made myself a home, however humble, here in the dark, dank, pine-paneled basement. And it’s alright. Like the tomatoes and basil, I’ve positioned myself back in DC to capture all the good energy I can get.

But I’m not staying forever. I’m not getting too comfortable. Unlike the Alchemist, I’m not going to dig-up a treasure chest of gold in my back garden and realize, viola, Mount Pleasant was my destination all along!

I’m simply back at basecamp – which means I’m not staying forever. Jonny Copp, my adventurer cousin, knows this and assures me: I will not die here. (

I’m back at basecamp to regroup, refortify, recoup and rebuild for the journey.

I don’t know what’s next, where I will go from here, or quite when.

But I have this chance at a do-over, and I’m going to take it.

Meanwhile, I head to the storage closet to dig my KitchenAid blender out of some taped-up box.

When I find it, I’m going to concoct a gazpacho!


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