Four simple letters that mean vastly different things to different people.
This summer, the #TeamStrub journey allowed me to tell you about every kind of love.
There was love in the most traditional sense: the respective, beautiful marriages of Jay and Holly Boulia in Ithaca, N.Y., and Ron and Jill Sweeney, in Kansas City, Mo.
There was plenty of “nontraditional” love: amazingly cool lesbian couples in Akron and Oakland, a hilarious new gay friend in Denver, and a hostel filled with homosexuals during Pride Weekend in Chicago.
There was family love: a very surprised young cousin in Salt Lake City (right); my aging-but-courageous Uncle in Pittsburgh; my Yankee-loving Dad witnessing Derek Jeter in Tampa Bay.
(Plug: See ALL of the photos from #TeamStrub 2014 on my Instagram.)
There was all sorts of animal love: Sammie and Teppo in Arlington, Va.; Arrow in Nashville; Lewis, Marshall and Molly in New Orleans; Olivia and Taylor in Atlanta; Howie in Oakland (circling the outfield at O.Co Stadium, left), Teeka in Cincinnati, and so on …
There were countless spins on love. James and Wyatt’s love for delivering perfect watermelons around Holt, Fla. Jane and Evan’s love for covering the pennant race in the AL West. Berry’s love for the perfect shave and a haircut in Redding, Cali. (pictured).
Doug’s unshakable love for the Green Bay Packers. Bob’s love for homemade chocolate chip cookies in Vergennes, Vermont. Ken's love for his new hometown of Portland. Patrick’s love for an outstanding craft beer in Atlanta. Steve’s love for Qd10d in Las Vegas. And how could I forget “Tiny,” the ironically nicknamed barfly in Colby, Kansas, who loved pounding Keystone Light and playing Megatouch …
The moral of the story? No matter what state you’re in, everyone has something -- and/or someone -- that they love.
This summer, I left in search of love, and the hundreds of photos, hours of video and millions of memories I collected left me with one rock-solid conclusion about my love:
I love traveling and encountering love, and I love sharing this love with the world.
And so tonight, after an incredible, unprecedented summer of love, I’m prepared to announce that in the summer of 2015, I have every intention of taking another extensive road trip around the United States.
Love never comes easy. Love takes sacrifice, it takes confidence, it takes a genuine, unflappable sense of faith. And the path to love is rarely a straight line.
And so, unlike my last announcement in May, strictly outlining daily stops and attractions, this announcement is purposefully much more vague.
Naturally, this may lead to some questions, so I’ll answer some of them here:
I don’t know when I’m leaving. I don’t know exactly where I’m going or for how long. I don’t know if the trip will be coined #TeamStrub, or if there will be t-shirts, or if there will be a charitable affiliation. I don’t know for certain that I will travel alone. I don’t know where the trip will start and/or end, I don’t know if I’ll make it to Alaska and/or Hawaii. I don’t know if I’m returning to __(your city here)__. I don’t know if my goal will again to be to visit all 48 or 50 states.
More urgently, because many have asked already, I don’t know where I’m going to reside in the time period leading up to my departure. I’m currently home, in Huntington, on Long Island (east of New York City), but I’m not likely to spend an extended period of time here.
One thing that I DO know, is that I hope to spend my time between now and then telling as many people as possible about the wonders of solo travel, and the reality of being able to follow through with one’s dreams. I hope to speak on college campuses around the country, and my immediate priorities include background work, networking and outreach to make that a reality.
Many have offered their congratulations on completing my “once-in-a-lifetime” dream. Your kind words are deeply appreciated; however, my belief in the principles that inspired me to pursue this endeavor hasn’t waivered -- in fact, like true love, it has only strengthened.
There will be changes. There will be bumps in the road. There will be stressful moments, there will be (more) tears, there will be times when I feel I’ve made an enormous mistake.
But this, my friends, is true love, and love finds a way to persevere.
America, I will see you again real soon. Stay tuned.