It is Monday, officially our fourth day out of the South American continent. I was reflecting with a friend that less than a week ago we were experiencing labored breathing as we reached the top of Austria Peak at 17,600 feet, and just three days ago we sat through a 1.5-hour closing ceremony we called Graduation. Three days ago, the ground was scattered with rose petals, and we tossed lilies like hats to celebrate our accomplishments. As we’ve all reflected throughout the semester, TTS time transcends the minutes of a day or the distance between us and anything else. In many ways, it feels like we are still there, sitting in those seats, or perhaps about to return to our group after just an afternoon away. Rationally, I know we are not merely taking a break from the busyness of La Paz or the effort of schooling at TTS, but I believe parts of us are still on top of that peak, inside that gondola floating over the city, or in the main square of Sucre. The memory of it all remains vivid, reminding me that this semester was far from the dream my present self wants to categorize it as. After our group call this afternoon, I know these feelings and many more are shared among us. There is a mix of longing, wonder, discomfort, and magic in this transition, just as there was during the program. The lessons of the TTS semester continue, of course.

During graduation,Mabel presented one of my favorite excerpts to encapsulate the post-TTS experience. It’s pasted at the bottom of this blog. It is called “After the Adventure,” and it chronicles so many details of what it is to come home after experiencing something so different from the rest of our lives. Many of these details might resonate with you or yours now more than ever, perhaps you can read it together and talk about what it brings up for you and your family. We continue to shape our relationship with beginnings, ends, goodbyes, and hellos. There is always something before and after the adventure…

Amidst a million different feelings, after the adventure we have just been on I am sitting with so much humility, inspiration, and gratitude for all that was put into making the past three and a half months such a success, such a semester of love and awe, a semester of transformation. Gracias a todos por todo. Gracias por ser, gracias por estar, gracias por quienes somos. Lines we all said so much throughout the semester. Same sentiment here, just in different words…

Thank you thank you thank youuuu studes (Adelaide is that better spelling?), studs, kiddos, young adults, learners, observers, community members, leaders, critical thinkers and powerful change makers. Thank you for getting sick beyond belief and for still saying okay to a 12 hour bus ride. Thank you for holding each other when you each needed it most, making those ten hugs a day count, for waking Maeve up when it was time for study hall. Thank you for the love you poured into this group, into yourselves, into our community partners, into every single region we traveled through. Thank you for wearing your layers and drinking enough water. Thank you for your openness to sitting in discomfort, and continuing to sit in discomfort – for your criticality, patience, vulnerability, authenticity, passion, compassion, care, advocacy, presence, laughter and for all the grit, bravery, and resilience you brought to our group. Thank you for doing SO much everyday and for trusting us. Trusting the process, trusting each other. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us and being a part of this group that it made it OUR group. We would not be us without you. Thank you for being all that you were at the beginning of the program, all that you are now, and for every moment of you (sick you, sad you, happy you, mad you) in between.

Thank you to the parents that flew across the country to see the magic in the works, thank you for the kind words and chocolates shared – and thank you the most for your trust. Thank you to the other guardians, grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, teachers, and mentors that made this semester happen for your young human. Thank you for letting go at the beginning, for the time, energy, worry, effort, love, and care that you poured into them throughout, and thank you for your softly welcoming them home at the end. Thank you for your consistent support, your belief they could do this. Thank you for being the parents to people who are dedicated to making positive change.

Our gratitude extends beyond students and families to all of the administrative staff that are at the core of running every TTS program. Thank you for the various ways that you
contributed to the creation of this semester as it was. Importantly, thank you J4, Aunge, Mary Reid, and Trace for all you did for us and the program so often behind the scenes. Thank you too!

A forever thank you to our amazing community partners and local connections that made the TTS40 experience so incredibly special and unique. We have never-ending gratitude to the selflessness of those global connections that made so many places far from here feel like home for us.

Thank you all for being a part of this intentional community, the magic that we still all feel deep in our cores. Thank you all.

Our love to you,
Meredith and the Teacher Team

“After The Adventure”
by Morgan Hite

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me and alone; on shore and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses”

After the adventure I am expected to go home.

I arrive there, carefully carrying the thick, tattered web of bonds I had with my fellows, torn apart and divided up too hurriedly at the parting. All their ghosts are still with me, as they will be for days, and the lot of us barely fit through the door together. My family and friends look somehow wrong, as if they are being played by actors. I go to sit down, but old chairs do not feel the same with all my new parts, new muscles. I greet my old lover and silently wonder, alone, if this is the correct universe.

As I eat, I cannot help but compare the foods with what I ate there. As I cook, I cannot help but remember the equipment that I used there. Unconsciously I contrast the smell of night air here with that night air, the bed here with the places I slept there, and the person lying next to me with the person who lay next to me there. Night after night I wake up convinced that there are two or three people in bed with me. Waking in the dim hours of the morning I move freely back and forth between two worlds, unsure of where I really am.

I find myself thinking constantly of those I was with, but afraid of using the phone to contact them lest in this world they too should turn out to be played by actors. I know that they are thinking the same thing about me. I reread Tennyson’s Ulysses. That old fucker knew what he was talking about.

I remember: be kind to those who welcome you. They have been expecting my old self and are a little afraid that this is not the person who has arrived. Their world did not move in the short time that I have been gone forever. There was no rift in reality here; nothing occurred that did not already have a name. Their eyes do not see into the place from which I come. They will listen eagerly to my story, but then excuse themselves.

My time spent in the other place has resulted in a finely tuned competence that is still present, but goes unrevealed. My muscles are ready for the long days. My mind seeks the next step on the route. My voice stands by to speak truths and concerns. I efficiently note weather changes through the window and mentally inventory my gear, but my team is not there. Times of sunrise and sunset, temperature patterns, and amounts of food and fuel carefully remembered have become mere trivia. The name which, as Ulysses says, “I am become,” is not spoken in this place.

I weather the test of the cynics. They come out of the woodwork, some disguised as the people I once trusted most, like moths drawn to something invisible I now radiate. They eagerly share with me the adventures they once had; but they are not so interested in hearing my tale as in extinguishing my light, which drives them mad. I observe them carefully. They have rationalizations. They suggest I place my experiences in context. They say jolly but subtly seductive things such as, “Welcome back to the real world!” They do not accept dissent on my part. They use concepts such as “financial stability” and “settled down” as keys to try to open my doors. They act like they have a right to this access. But I have changed the locks ahead of time. I remember: never give up what has happened to you.

As hollow and lonely as my soul is, ultimately I have a choice to make. I have two options to ease the pain. The first is to actively forget. It was just an adventure. It wasn’t relevant. I may retire happily, as a cynic. There was no point in that new name.

The second is that bundle I carried in the door, the thick, tattered web of bonds with my fellows. It is not to be discarded it in a corner; it is to be used. Whenever the aloneness comes now, I write. Whenever I feel the insanity, I pick up a pen and put it down on paper for one of the others. I do not write to some person I am supposed to write. I just write the person I long to write. I write all day and all night, whenever the pain comes.

In doing this I begin to retrieve the story. I begin, in the days after the adventure, to cement the two worlds together. I enrich this place with the distilled essence of that place, drop by drop. The passage of time can work for me or against me: I must not drop the ball, and I must keep my name, so painstakingly discovered.

Listen! I know that something similar will happen to you someday, for in our wide world there are many goings home. We must hold on to our dreamings, all of us, now that we have earned the right to dream.