At the tail end of my list of northeastern friends, I stayed with Jess, Nate, and their boys for the better part of a week. Using their place as a home base allowed me to make that complicated trip to Assateague and gave me a place to relax, sleep, write a ton, and be part of a truly amazing family that I absolutely adore for those few days.
We did normal stuff: soccer games, Tae Kwan Do, lunch, homemade dinners around the table, homework, school buses, and grocery shopping. The first thing Jess said to me was "you're family here". She meant it and I felt it.
This family took me in, warmed me up, fed me well, and sent me on my way with a huge amount of love. Since they were my last home for a while, it was super important. Of course I cried for the first two miles after saying goodbye (and full disclosure - writing this makes me teary too). More and more I am realizing that people are my home, not place.
I've been back on the road for a few days by now, realizing that the logistics for the trip are catching up with me, that I can't possibly do this on my own sometimes. I need help and I am less and less afraid to ask for it.
Jess will be helping me research campgrounds a bit when I'm out of WiFi range, which is an enormous help. Anyone who can balance a tiny pig and drink wine is well-qualified, as far as I'm concerned.
Leaving this family was like starting all over, which is something I think I'll keep running into throughout this trip. I miss them so much, but I'm so glad I am lucky enough to have friends I love enough to miss this much.