The trip was long. When people ask me if it was fun, I think, it was fun in its way, but we did it. We survived. Fun is not the word I would choose first to describe it; exhausting, interesting, incredible... Those are words that come to mind. My goal was to keep my eyes on the road in front of me and just get there. Just drive. Keep the kids happy. Drink water, eat chips. McDonald's for lunch, again. Don't fall asleep. Keep the music loud, the air blowing in my face. And drive.

During those 3,000 miles, there were moments of wonder as we drove through the red, jagged, dry mountains of Wyoming, moments of silliness when we drove through Chicago with Chicago by Sufjan Stevens bursting out of every window and crack and crevice of my car, moments of conversation with my sister that made me even more thankful for her than I already was, and moments of relief when we arrived at our hotels night after night and the children finally fell asleep, albeit two hours after their usual bedtime. We saw geysers spit from slabs of rock. We drove twenty miles down a steep mountainside going 30 miles per hour. We saw dozens of landscapes in thousands of colors, and took hundreds of photos of eight different sunsets. I was left in awe of how expansive, unique, and diverse my country is.

But mostly I felt the need to reach the northeast. A six-year-long goal. I did it. I am here. I write to you from my bed overlooking the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. We are smack dab in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, and those hills are still rolling. I see the white silos of a farm behind one of the houses. That's what I've always loved about Pennsylvania.

When we arrived (and by "arrived" in such a large and anonymous space as "the northeast," I mean the moment I stepped from my car into the state that is Michigan), I was immediately hit with about three tons of humidity and also the unbelievably giddy realization that I would once again have fireflies in my life. There are no fireflies in western Washington or south Texas, and sometimes I react to things in much the same way that one would expect a four-year-old to react. I may have chased them. I don't know if there's anything in this world closer to a fairy than a firefly.

The kids and I camped in my mom's best friend's pop-up camper that night in her backyard. There was a storm, and do you know how excited I was to hear a storm? The wind blew. The thunder roared. I was awoken by tree branches slapping up against the top of the tent. I googled "safe wind speed while camping." But y'all, I was thrilled. I hadn't heard a real storm in almost five years. It doesn't thunder much in Washington, and in all honesty, while living there, I probably heard a total of five or six soft rolls which sounded like nothing more than my upstairs neighbors pushing their kitchen table across the floor. This thunder was like sweet music to my ears. In Texas, the storms are real, and I missed them. I missed torrential downpours and the kind of lightening that makes you scared to stand by your window. This storm wasn't like that, but the wind! Oh, the wind. And the thunder, yes. It was wonderful. Since we've moved to Pennsylvania, we've had about ten storms, and I've relished each one.

Sand then six weeks ago we dropped bags from tired limbs in the middle of an empty, echoing house. Today it is a home. Almost every night, we jump into the pool without testing the water because it's hot, and we already know it's perfect. I swam twice in Washington. I am a Texas girl, and anything less than 80 degrees is too "cold" to swim. My mom and I trade off who is making dinner. My dad cooks out often; grilled chicken and hot dogs and burgers after a swim, eating out on the porch furniture, dripping and content. My sisters and I watch movies several times a week. My brother drove with us across the country and is going back next week to Washington where he goes to school; it'll be strange without him. I've eaten more salt and vinegar chips and Pop-Tarts than I am proud to admit, and tell myself when we are in our own house again (next week!), I will go back to eating healthy. I know I'll keep that promise until December hits and all I want is pumpkin pie and iced sugar cookies in the shape of stockings and stars.

There are six souls in Washington that I will miss entirely, and my heart will always ache for one more conversation with each of them over coffee, but I will not miss Washington itself. I came with the weight of postpartum depression and debilitating self-loathing, and while there, because of God's deep and overwhelming grace, I was able to slam it to the ground, stomp on it, and tell it "never again, asshole." I feel free. I am different than who I was when I arrived there, 4 years and 8 months ago. I will always be grateful for Washington and the people there who touched my life. I will always be grateful for the way God changed me. And because of that, I am happy to turn the page on that chapter, tears in my eyes and a grin on my lips. I am different, I am victorious. Life is good as it always was. Pennsylvania, it's your turn. Let's go.

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