nonstandard

Saint Valentine’s Day was nonstandard.

Walking around the neighborhood we met a couple who, from their driveway, made the bold, forward, and altogether lovely shouted offer of, “Hey, happy Valentine’s day! Y’all want to do some shots of tequila?” Why, yes, random people we don’t know, we absolutely want to do some shots of tequila. I mean, this is precisely what this trip is about.

Two generous red Solo cup shots (and a couple Newports pour moi) later, and I’m once again reflecting on just how many ways there are to get along in this world. I know I’ve said it before, but what you think is your narrow little path is a lie. So is the tenuous, “limited time only” nature of that narrow path. That’s also a lie. There are many, nay infinite, options, most of which you’ve never even imagined.

And while I’ve learned enough that I can say that, express the sentiment with words, I’m still working on being able to live it.

Goodnight.

connection

A really productive morning this morning, feeling quite satisfied (and you’ll see so by how frequently I use the word below).

Well, “productive” as I measure such things when not working and having no place to be and no time to be there, at least. Spent some time tweaking the next few weeks so that we could make it to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, something I thought we might have to miss given the loose route I’d put together a couple weeks ago. I suppose it’s not any great feat to “fit in” another stop when, again, we’re entirely free agents… but doing a Google Maps visual verification that the route is feasible does give me some satisfaction.

I was talking to a friend this morning and sharing that we’ve spent the past several nights staying at the empty vacation properties of folks’ I’ve met through work. OK, good friends I’ve made through work, more properly. I shared the thought that it’s nice to be able to “trade on the goodwill equity that strong work-friend relationships can build.” Then I realized that expressing it that way makes it sound too “transactional,” and clarified that the sentiment I was trying to communicate is more the satisfaction I feel when the time invested in making genuine connections between humans yields unexpected, and really undeserved, serendipitous benefits. It’s like the universe rewards the effort expended making and maintaining connections.

In fact, maybe that’s it, y’all. Maybe this is all about connections. Meeting people, knowing people, caring for people, helping people, sharing experiences – good and bad and unremarkable… all the qualities and feelings wrapped-up therein… that’s what really moves me. Something here; need to write about this more; working on a Grand Unification theory, I think.

And now we’re off to finish school and get on the lake in kayaks. Hope everyone has a great St. Valentine’s Day. Hugs.

don’t make ’em like they used to

As I’ve grown older I’ve noticed, I suppose as most do, that a year just isn’t that long of a time.

Recall how they used to drag… school being an interminable slog between summers. Now it’s tax time again, another birthday, and the kids are driving already?

So here we are. 356 days of not working, 320 on the road, 168 of those already behind us, and it’s flying by. It’s surprising to me, as there were concerns in both our minds, I think, about it feeling too long. Our previous long-haul trip was nine weeks and by then end we were itching to get back home.

Perhaps it’s not about the duration, it’s about the ends and beginnings, the transitions. While we’re solidly in it we don’t feel the tug to move onto that next phase, but at the outset everyone’s anxious to just get going and on the return you’re just ready to “get back to normal.”

It’s worth thinking about, really. What defines this “normal?” And if the normal we’re going back to is less fulfilling than the “abnormal” we’re living now, how do we bring more of one to the other? That’s what I want to think about more. What do I like about this trip? What’s changed for the better in our family, marriage, myself?

Maybe I’ll give it a try right now, Sharaun’s driving and Keaton’s riding shotgun so I’ve got the time…

  • I love the time we spent together; the shared experiences which I hope over time continue to ripen into fond memories.
  • I like the time I have to think, or to not think at all. I like having little chores to do around the RV, and the time I have to complete them and gain satisfaction in doing so.
  • I like being closer to what and how effectively our kids are learning.
  • I love walking daily with Sharaun, and the way it affords us captive time with each other to talk about real things vs. routine daily interaction.
  • I like traveling and seeing new places and things and meeting new people, but this kind of feels like a luxury vs. something one could realistically expect as part of everyday.
  • I like the small space and little stuff we have, it makes things easier and faster and less worrisome and busy feeling.

Enough for now. Peace.

how to ruin every morning

Yesterday was rough.

The daily “school fight” with the kids is not improving. With Keaton it’s worse than ever. They question assignments, push back, hem and haw and put in the a absolute minimal effort. Disrespectful and disinterested, their attitude is tiring to us both. They’re not even attempting to get in the right frame of mind, it’s a compulsory grinding-out for them.

With Keaton, this protest has twice now turned into a full-on, “I hate this trip! I hate my life! I hate everything!,” tearful rant.

Tellingly, these outbursts only happen when she’s asked to exert effort on her studies, which to me says that they are more utilitarian than truly existential, and that we don’t likely have to worry about her resenting us forever. In other words, she’s happy as can be as long as she’s doing what she wants, but if she’s asked to do something else, well, the whole damn world can burn. I count this, then, as simple manipulative theatrics vs. true emotional trauma. I was once the master at this myself, so I feel like I can spot the tactic.

Regardless, to see her worked into such a huff, even a self inflicted one, bothers me. I want the kids to be happy. And, lo and behold, when it’s not school time it’s all rainbows and puppies. They are happy, laughing and having a jolly time. I

I don’t know, maybe we’re doing it wrong? I would just like to see them try a little, care a little.

Gonna go for a walk. Peace.

prospects

Earlier tonight I thought about being home again.

I don’t find myself thinking of being home often, instead I mostly think about how much I’m enjoying this trip and how I hope the back half feels as unhurried and appreciable as the front did. But, tonight I found myself thinking about sitting in the backyard or in the driveway, enjoying the weather.

In my heart I know that I’ve chosen to be fully absorbed with this trip not only because I truly want to be present for it, which I most certainly do, but also because being absorbed helps me not think on the large scary unresolved and unknown thing waiting back home. Namely, what in God’s name will I do with my career thus far in the “after.” I’ve actually been proud at how I’ve not let the thought eat at me, but the fact still stands that I’ll be coming back to limbo.

We were in an art museum earlier, the exhibit was on impressionism, and I loved reading the little printed biographies pasted-up alongside each piece. One that stuck with me was about an artist who, prior to becoming an artist, was working as a banker. Once, when loaning money to an artist, he took possession of the artist’s paints and brushes as collateral. When the artist never came round to collect them, the banker began tinkering. And thus his latent passion, and considerable talent, was revealed.

The job I left, the thing I’ve been perfecting for nineteen years, the only real job I’ve ever had, the job I felt I was really good at, is finished. Done. Over. A first-world problem to be sure, as I’m still employed, but still something that’s awfully scary to me. Going back to nothing in particular, trying to find the next thing, restarting, rebuilding…

So I think I’m sort of on the lookout for paints and brushes. I mean, scary is scary is scary, right?

Goodnight.

it’ll bring hell

Tough mornings with the kids lately. It’s become hard to get them up, fed, cleaned, and readied for school before it’s near, or even after, 10am, and that just doesn’t hunt. It’s always a ln argument, without fail either or both is all but guaranteed to add a sour note to what starts as a nice quiet routine.

Today I got angry, told them we’re going to remind them how good they have it by moving to a “just like it’d be at home” style schedule for the next several days. Up at 6am, readied and breakfasted by 7:30am to head to school, no fun extra-curriculars until after 3pm, etc.

I think it’s a good idea, and am going to propose to Sharaun. It’ll bring hell from them, to be sure, but maybe it’ll help, also. It’s not that I’m wanting to “punish” them with the normal… I just want to free us from the spirit-sucking 9am-10am exercise of pushing a rock uphill, it’s become a turd right under our first bootfalls and that’s no fun.

I’ll let ya know. Hugs.

rain again

Rain again, and it doesn’t look that my most recent roof sealing maintenance quite got all the water entryways taken care of – there’s still one persistent, but thankfully small, leak up in the front cab.

Since I knew we’d be getting rain overnight (though I underestimated how much), I did another walk around visual inspection yesterday afternoon. Found maybe one or two possible culprit spots and will have to try and seal them when the rain stops. For now I put a towel down and that’ll have to suffice.

I know that we’re heading into country where winter is real, and I’m hoping I’ve planned a northward tack that’s non-aggressive enough to keep us below the worst of it, moving up the latitudes as we move closer to Spring. Still I expect we’ll encounter late snow at least somewhere along the way, and we’ll certainly hit the New England mud season.

I am a little leery of weather on this leg of the journey, I worry a bit about being stuck in the RV with too much rain or snow, ending up with cabin fever or simply just longing for sunshine. I continue to believe, though, that we’ve got plenty of beautiful days ahead of us where we can be outside exploring, swinging in hammocks, sitting by fires.

OK, time to jump in the shower and get ready for the day. Savannah by evening. Peace & safe travels.