Where is Leo? Cambridge has a yearly all city game, Where is Waldo? The children go from store to store looking for Waldo in each store and recording all their finds for a gift at the end. Every time I tell someone about my trip to El Camino, the inevitable statement is, “Surely Leo will be joining you?”
As it has transpired over the year, no, Leo will not be joining me. With the uncertainty of my going and the shortened trip, Leo committed to a Boundary Waters trip and a trip to Missouri directly preceding and during the time I will be in Spain. Leo would actually rather walk the full 500 miles. So, who knows, I may return, as many who walk the Camino do, and want to go again. If so, I may want to also do the full 500 and Leo and I will have a trip to Spain in a couple of years. We shall see. But for now Leo is not going and that has been one of the concerns I have had to walk through as I prepare.
Leo and I have never been a couple that does “everything” together. With many long separations during Leo’s five years in the military and with each of us having very independent natures, we are used to making decisions, doing things we each enjoy that the other might not, and pursuing our own creative endeavors. We have even had some short travels without the other. This one feels different. A full month in a foreign country, living mainly out of doors day after day for a month. That is a Leo trip and as I prepare I think of the many ways I would lean into Leo for support on such a trip: Medical care as Leo always has a full array of medical supplies for every need. My brain when I am tired. The known companion who I do not need words for communication to happen. His jokes and his sense of adventure. These are a few that come to mind. All the ‘what if’s’ without Leo.
Being without Leo is part of the challenge that I have accepted to give myself on this trip. It has been 43 years since Leo and I had so many separations in the military. At that time, I ran the household decisions on my own, gave birth on my own, and raised my son alone for the first three months. It is not what I planned on nor would have desired but there it was. I found my strength.
This trip seems very small and simple in comparison but I am also 43 years older and quite used to leaning into Leo. Now that I have named all the areas of concern I simply walk forward with a curiosity for the journey. All will be well.
Here is where we will be walking, Leon to Santiago de Compostela.