Here’s the final post in the series about our Camino, with a few days in New York, and our first week back in Alaska..
Sunday, October 7
We attended a wedding today, a New York Jewish-Catholic ceremony with a stand-up comedian marrying a Shakespearean actress. And then, because Jim’s back was in bad shape, we went home soon after the ceremony and spent the afternoon resting and packing. It was a chilly, damp day that lent itself to such pursuits.
The Camino recedes now, and looks different as we look back on it than it did as we approached it and then experienced it. Anthea said that it felt like graduating from something. It was a thing accomplished, marked by the Compostela paper as done. The reasons for having done it are not necessarily any more evident or articulate, but we changed by taking those steps. Perhaps the wedding we attended helps that perspective. People ask, why marry? It’s a piece of paper, a ceremony, but how does that change the commitment of two people to each other? Difficult, again, to articulate, but it does, and that’s why people keep doing it. A pilgrimage, a diploma, a marriage certificate — nothing changed on the surface, but the person is different in the depths. The ceremonies that accompany the obtaining of those pieces of paper recognize the fact of change.
The change, in each case, is not something that can be easily deconstructed, because it irrevocably changes the whole person from the inside out. The person looks the same, speaks the same language, has the same tics and trials. The eyesight’s no better, the writing hasn’t improved, the lapses into annoying behavior just as frequent. But the relationship with the world, inside and out, is on a different footing. Perhaps that is why some pilgrimages, although they can be done many times, are often seen as a once-in a lifetime event. You’ve finished the journey to Mecca, to Santiago, to Jerusalem, and there’s no need to do it again. Something else will call.
Days later — Wednesday, October 10 — Unpacking, in layers. Most of them are put away by now, and the laundry is done. The cat has decreased his demands for attention from every five minutes to a couple of times an hour.
Anchorage lingers in autumn, but not for much longer. Most of the leaves are gone from the trees,and those that cling on are golden, sometimes red. A few streaks of the September snow line the front range of the Chugach mountains; peaks behind them are more white than not. The last of the biggest farmers markets are on Saturday, and articles in the newspaper mention studded tires. The holiday bazaars are rolling along on schedule — a bead show at the Museum this weekend, the pottery show next weekend.
The list of things to do no longer is limited to get up in the morning, walk, eat, wash, eat, sleep. Now it includes rake the leaves that blanket the drive and lawn, cut up the tree trunks blown down by the September storms, send thank you notes, prepare to vote in November, check the schedule of board meetings, choir rehearsals, and the like — in short, return to Anchorage.
October 14, 2012 — We’ve been back for nearly a week, long enough for the cat to forgive us for abandoning him; long enough to spend several days at work and the judges’ conference; time to get to Homer and back. The tan is fading fast, almost everything is unpacked, and the compostela and credencials are set aside to frame someday.
October 15, 2012 — Here are a few photos to wrap up this journey, and a link to the complete set of emails that we sent from the trip. I realized when posting them that there is nothing about Cruz de Ferro (did I write that and it got lost somewhere?), and not enough about other places. Thanks to all of you for your support and interest — we look forward to our next trip, and to seeing you in the meantime. Link to blog: http://roadtripteri.com/category/2012/. [The posts are most recent first, you can click back through to August 23, 2012 for the first one.]
New York skyline, as we head for the Newark airport.
Autumn mountain ash in Anchorage, October 9, 2012.
Snow on the Seward Highway near Portage, October 13, 2012.
Volcano Mount Redoubt, from north of Soldotna, with a steam plume coming from near the peak, October 13, 2012.
The Homer Spit, with new drilling rigs (just there for the winter), October 13, 2012.
Homer eagle, along the Spit road, October 14, 2012.
Swans on Tern Lake, October 14. We saw plenty of them on Saturday and Sunday, but they were mostly bottoms up, feeding, and a long way away.
Anchorage sunset, October 14, looking west at the airport.