Skilled as I may be at living my life to its fullest extent, and finding joy in even the most egregious of moments, I can't do it on my own. Instead, I have a wonderful girl named Bernadette (shown here) who gets me through every day, with her lovely ginger hair, snow white skin and a smile that could slay a dragon.
We met at my work, when she joined our wait staff about a year ago, and I had the pleasure of training her on her second day at the restaurant. This was right around the same time that Joey, Sarah and I were formulating our plan for our big trip a year later, and with my departure in mind, I was going out of my way not to get romantically attached to anyone.
But who could resist that face?
After a few fickle months working together over the summer, the two of us found our way together, and stuck quite well. We both love eating food and watching movies, and we both stink like sweat and garbage after a day at work. Really, who could ask for more?
But as the time progresses, the day of my departure draws nearer and nearer. While I'd hoped that this day would be a strictly joyous occasion, it will also mean a temporary departure from the everyday company that I've come to love so much.
Don't get me wrong - I'd be a fool to let go of a lady like this one. Our relationship will simply have to be of the long-distance variety for a while, as I cascade across the country on my way to Oregon. While it'll be painful not seeing her all the time, and living further than ten blocks away from her (as I do now), we won't have to wait too long before we cross paths again.
To be exact, we'll have to wait until July 17, as Joey, Sarah and I drift casually into Chicago (at right). Our first stop in town will be at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, where Bern will be flying in and meeting us for an 11-day furlough into our crazy adventure. She'll be with us for our two days in Chicago, followed by Minneapolis, the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and two days in Badlands National Park before flying out of Omaha, Neb. She chose Omaha because the price of a ticket was roughly 1/3 the cost of her original departure point, in Fargo, N.D. Smart girl.
Without a doubt, it won't be long afterward before she's out in Portland for a visit, or before I scoot myself back to the Philly area for a visit. But I miss her already.
That said, you've all now officially been introduced to Bernadette, my lady back home who I love very, very much. Look forward to Bern visiting at the halfway point, and for my mood to improve by leaps and bounds when she does.
(From top) Photo by Kelly Cotton; photo by Ian Jansen; photo by fusionpanda courtesy Flickr.com