What do you do after walking around the world?
Editor’s note: Vail resident Polly Letofsky has been on the road since she left town Aug. 1, 1999, on her mission to become the first woman to walk around the world and promote awareness of breast cancer. From Vail she first walked to the West Coast, then crossed to the two islands of New Zealand, up the eastern coast of Australia and on to Malaysia and Southeast Asia, India, Turkey, Greece, Great Britain and Ireland. She’s now back in the United States, having arrived in New York City and crossed New York State to the Canadian Border at Niagara Falls and made her way to her home state of Minnesota. She’s still catching up on some of her journals from the summer. She is expected to reach Vail at the end of July. You can follow along with Polly’s journey on her Web site, http://www.globalwalk.org.LAS ANIMAS, Colo. – Last year a stranger in a cafe in London, Ontario said to my face, “Congratulations on your walk but I’m scared for you.”He said that 10 years ago he went on a five-month bike trip across America and getting settled afterwards was the toughest time of his life. He plugged himself right back into the life that he had had ,but he was different, he didn’t belong anymore.A woman named Lisa, who rode her bike around the world for breast cancer, also said reacclimating afterwards was the toughest part. She wasn’t satisfied with her town anymore, her job, her own mind. She said that you know how it takes a few days to bounce back after a vacation? Multiply that by a year. She had given up her job, furniture and other worldly possessions, so she didn’t have a home or her own bed to flop on. It took her a good part of a year digging deep into a spiritual journey, some counseling and a bit of moving around to climb out of her depression. She hit her stride when she fell in love with Austin, Texas, and thrived in a new life in property development. Lisa said she was worried about me too and she’ll be standing by at the finish if I need to consult with someone who’s been there. While on the one hand I’m nervous about this upcoming reassimilation process, there’s the much bigger part of me that is sooo ready to just sit down in one place and know that I’m going home every night.
In other words, I’m over it – satisfied with what I set out to do yet tired of third world travel, being broke, dressing in the same two T-shirts and dragging myself through whatever Mother Nature feels free to throw at me. The only travel related words I want to hear for years to come are “package tour” and “daiquiris by the pool.” Ready for a routineEntering Colorado and watching these last miles spread out before me I feel like an airplane touching down. I see the runway – now I just need to get lined up straight and release the landing gear. I’ve got to find a job, a place to live and some new clothes – a wardrobe suitable for job interviews and looking snappy while I sit in my corporate American cubicle. It’s about adapting and God knows that’s something I’ve become good at over the years. The irony is that I’ll have to adapt to not adapting. I look forward to routine – I want some boredom in my life. I look forward to walking around town without a map because I’ll finally know my way around. I want to know that my sheets are clean, what dentist to go to – I want my haircut from someone who knows how I like my hair. I look forward to spending a Saturday morning with friends over a cappuccino, knowing my neighbors, racking up a savings account. I look forward to having a closet with hangers and a dresser with drawers, a laundry basket to separate the clean clothes from the dirty ones.
I’ll have to learn to match my clothes again. How will my feet respond to dress shoes? Will I be able to keep up with the constant education that I’ve been so gloriously inundated with over the years or will I get so involved with my job, the four walls and paying the cable bill that I forget the lessons that this walk has taught me? Golden archesAnd what job could possibly be as satisfying? Maybe I could do some freelance writing. Under the guise that you write what you know, surely I could pen a few magazine articles like:• “The Art of Small Talk” • “How to Get a Haircut Overseas.” • “How to Eat Healthy at Gas Stations and Truck Stops.” • “Skin Care for the Outdoor Life”
• “Top 10 Snappy Comebacks for Americans Traveling in Europe” Or maybe I’ll send a resume to Crayola crayon’s color development department where I could create a new “bright colors division”: Colorado Sky Blue, Australian Red Rock and New Zealand Rolling Green.Or perhaps I could become a documentary filmmaker and rebut the guy who’s made zillions from “Super Size Me” by proving unarguably that yes, you too can eat crap every day and become a fat pig. Duh.Give me zillions and I’ll document how I’ve just walked around the world without a single sick day and McDonalds has been my savior. How I survived on McDonalds through New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the American Midwest because it’s the only place you can get a salad that’s not deep fried. In my documentary – which I’ll call, “I’m Lovin’ It!” – I’ll chronicle the story of when I would come up to a town in Europe and see McDonalds litter on the ground, my heart would flutter knowing that at least something would be open in the next town while the rest of Europe is napping off their four-hour work day.Whatever I do, I’ll stay involved with breast cancer, I’ll also write a book, but that will be extracurricular. For now I’ve got my resume updated, the networking has begun and now I’ve just got to wait for the right time to put down my landing gear and hope for minimum turbulence.Just in case, though, keep your ears and eyes open for a good counselor.