Our Summer of Transience


Last night, Kelsey and I left our “Van Nest”, our one-bedroom apartment in the Van Ness neighborhood of Washington, DC.


Evidence of Moving [Photo: luggage cart with several labeled/stickered cardboard boxes].

It’s the first and only home so far we’ve shared between just the two of us. We moved in just weeks after our engagement, and since have added a therapy-dog-in-training to our family, got married, and had tremendous career and personal growth. But it’s time for us to move on from not only this apartment, but DC itself. “The Rent is Too Damn High”, the humidity is exacerbating my chronic illness, and Congress controls our city’s  budget. Albuquerque, New Mexico is our eventual destination, but we’re taking the scenic route.

We are in a rare position where Kelsey just needs the internet to work and I finished a semester-long contract in February and I have been slowly tying my loose ends in DC. We will miss our friends and church, but our only real anchor is this little darling, Stella.


Stella the Dog.  Photo Credit:  Carolyn Sellars [a beautiful dog laying on a rug in front of a wood stove]

So we decided to meander to New Mexico. We will get there late summer. Here’s a rough idea of how:

Our Itinerary: 

4-27: Stay with Kelsey’s cousins in Arlington, VA.

4-29: Move in with some friends in Columbia Heights, DC.

5-17: Leave DC for Massachusetts (itinerary pending), where we will stay with my parents.

7-3: Depart on a 2-3 week Pacific Northwest trip: Fly to Seattle (where we will stay with some of my family), and then head down to Oregon (where we will see a lot of Kelsey’s family for Wylie and Hayley’s wedding!). Exact itinerary TBD

Some time after 7-16 (DATE TBA): Fly back to Massachusetts

Some time after 8-13 (DATE TBA): Start driving to Albuquerque, NM, tentatively planned along a Southern route to hit Atlanta, New Orleans, and College Station, TX.

Dog Note: Stella has jumped a few stops on our journey to stay with my parents in MA, who have graciously offered to take care of her during the more transient parts of our summer so she can go to “camp” with their amazing dogs until she joins us for our big road trip in August. While she meets the legal requirements as a therapy dog to travel with me, she is still less than 2, so she’s not fully in her supportive role yet and the moving process is stressful for dogs. I am going to tough out the next few weeks by following her closely on Twitter (isn’t the future delightful?), sending my mom too many helicopter-dog-mom texts, and getting some stress out by snuggling with other dogs I encounter in my travels. Though no dog is the same as Stella, the first two are the dogs that tipped off my psychologist to “prescribe” me Stella in the first place- Keagan and Xuxa, with their cat friend, Miel.

Here’s some pics from this morning.


Keagan the Dog. Photo Credit: Cliff Rader [a beautiful dog licks the face of the author on the floor]


From Left to Right: Alymay (human), Miel (cat), Xuxa (dog), Keagan (dog). Photo Credit: Kelsey Atherton [a woman sits on a chair with a cat in her lap, a dog leaning on her leg, and another dog leaning on that dog]

This adventure comes on the heels of a career shift and a diagnosis that I received just this month that drastically changed the lens through which I view my health history (another story for another day). I need to learn how to work within my new normal, so I’m going to try to make this summer of exploration as restorative as possible. I am going to make crafts. I am going to read books. I joined the Cloud Appreciation Society. I am going to journal like it’s my job.

I have a very full docket ahead of me.

But I’m going to take some time out for blogging. I’ve re-discovered from exploring journals of my past as I’ve been packing them is that I do the most personal writing when I travel, so after a year of hiatus (“I have nothing worth adding to the conversation of the internet!”), I am challenging myself to blog more of my experiences for the world…so I’m going to document my summer of transience. Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for me in a city near you this summer. ❤




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