Moving back to our home state of Massachusetts after an isolated and explorative look deep into the Midwest was almost instantly a shock. The harsh reality that we’d have to sign up for health insurance once again, and find a way to exist in a world we had all but forgotten about was difficult. The constant, nearly-every day visits and drives to and from friends and family alike began to tear at us – was this what it would always be like? Would we spend an eternity disappearing for the bulk of a year only to return to a mash up of people we stopped making memories with?

Though it sounds cynical, it’s true: I personally have hardly been around for the last three years. Sometimes it impresses me that the people I grew up with remember my name. From running away to San Diego after living on the opposite end of the state to hiding in a hole after skateboarding across the country, I ultimately stopped doing things with my friends, and every meetup we had was spent catching up. Gone were the days of knocking on each other’s doors and spending a full day with no plans, creating lasting memories. It all felt like a slump of mismatched holiday parties. None of this is to say I don’t overly enjoy their company, but part of me wonders if I am truly “moved on” just because I don’t live near them all. Soon enough Caroline and I will be gone once again, and the test of friendship will shed its ugly face to make awkward eye contact with. When we’ve seen every National Park and driven across every state or immersed ourselves in every culture, will we have friends to return to?

Nonetheless, our savings to leave Massachusetts before winter rears its chest to pound and howl at us are non-existent. The appeal to drink beer and eat out was stronger than a bug to a light, half because of our own ambitions and half because somehow leaving our comfortable North Dakota life meant we had to suffer with disgusting and uncleanly roommates. Working from home grew tough when the windows were covered in snow I never wanted to see – and not having anything to show for it by the next paycheck only became worse.

Seasonal depression is not something to take lightly. It’s the reason I left the Northeast in the first place. Daylight savings sucks the life out of you, and waking up while it’s dark and being ready for the day post-work in the dark is no fun. Bitter cold trembles my bones and makes me hate something I cannot attack. I despise winter. While most things personally for me are looking up, it’s hard to ignore the call of the void. Winter makes me want to lash out. It makes me want to be erratic, and it makes me want to die.

Our van build, though slow because of funds, is nearly renovated. Caroline and I will share all of the details between products we purchased and how we did it – but our van’s interior finally looks a hell of a lot less like the late 80s, and more like the early 00s. As we settle into our rent free and sun-filled life down in Florida for the next few months, our opportunities to secure solar panels and auxiliary batteries will increase. Caroline will be gainfully employed in a field she enjoys, and I will maybe cut down my works in progress.

In my own case, I just miss my skateboard. It’s been a long year of winters and wind, working hard to self publish and produce my book Carrion, Carried On. I did embark on new journeys, but they pale in comparison to my overall goals. I did a great deal of things to be proud of next to my perfect woman, and nothing has ever looked brighter. I suppose in the end its a question of how much can we sustain ourselves before we cave in completely?

I feel like I hang by a thread, most days. By December, a new adventure begins.