Driving around the country for a year you can’t help but notice some trends.
One trend we’ve seen is what Sharaun calls the “nice house, junkyard, nice house” pattern. More scientifically, I’ve started referring to this as the “front yard binary distribution.” (I settled on this because the phrase “pride of ownership” feels condescending and privileged.)
The divide between the two types of front yards, those tidy and well manicured versus those where a sea of un-cut grass surrounds flotsam of scrap machinery, lumber, and never-burned burn piles, is so stark I wonder if it’s something primal in us that’s been around forever.
Like in caveman days I can hear one clansman say to the other, “Dude maybe we should, I dunno, pick up these animal bones and entrails from dinner last night and bury them away from camp? Also maybe let’s not poop right here? Couldn’t we do that on the other side of that hill? And what are we keeping all these rocks for anyway? Are we ever going to do anything with them?” To which I assume the second guy responds, “Huh? Why? You too good for bones?”
And thus was born the distribution.
We live in an RV and still have room for stuff we don’t need.
I have four pair long pants I really wear, two of which have zippers at the knee and thereby transform into shorts on demand. The rest languish and could be donated. I have maybe fifteen t-shirts, but only five or six are in heavy rotation. Could donate the others. Two sweaters (one tan and one black) feels right. Altogether too many socks, undershirts and underwear, could donate a third.
We have too many cups. We don’t entertain often. We have exactly six plates and six bowls, we did well on them. We have too many sharp knives and one too many sets of salad tongs. We have stainlessness steel straws and a set of metal kebab sticks and both feel unnecessary. We have pots and pans dialed-in, one small and one large frying, one medium sauce, and one large soup. I wash the same pot and same pan daily, sometimes multiple times, and that feels right.
We have enough books to build a secondary shelter if the RV ever becomes uninhabitable. We regularly swap them at Goodwills and laundromats and campground little libraries but this family be reading so there’s always loose stacks just piled around.
Same with our stockpile of secondhand DVDs. We rarely have good enough connection, or enough cellular bandwidth to spare, for streaming – so we watch DVDs on the hacked Wii. We trade them in and out as well, but there’s still too many. How I ever expect to watch The Godfather with the kids in the RV is beyond me.
Even here, in this small space, we have more than we strictly need. There’s bound to be some learning there.
I love the shape of my wife.
I sneak glances. The curves of her, the lines. When she changes for bed, I watch from the corners of my eyes. I put my hand on her knee in church and my boxer briefs strain just a little, even in God’s house.
After a shower she’s wrapped in a towel and her skin is pale and her hair drapes damp. Under there is nothing, but it’s everything I want more than anything. Soft and smooth and continuous to the touch, grabbable by handfuls in the best places.
She smacks my hand away with an annoyed smile. It’s difficult not to want her at all the inopportune times, at all the times. I know what’s under those jeans, black, little polkadots rimmed with lace, a tiny bow, centered. All the times.
I run my hand down her side and into the warm hollow just before the rise of her hip. I could shrink myself and live in that hollow, set up camp, feast on milky thigh for every meal.
I woke from a dream early this morning and the words, “The moon is laughing at us,” were on my dream tongue.
I’m not sure what it meant in the dream, but it was curious enough that it kept me awake and I thought about it for a while in the waking world. Why would the moon be laughing at us?
I decided that the moon, up in the sky with such a great unobstructed balcony seat to the play of humanity, is laughing at us because it’s a comedy, or maybe a tragedy.
We’re toiling, we’re angry, were unfulfilled, we do the opposite of our hearts just like the silly characters in the dramas. From the moon’s perch the busyness on Earth is a grand choreography, a pantomime communicating our base desires for companionship and love & everything that gets in our way.
The moon sees the full story arc, including all the self sabotage along the way. And man, that’s worth a laugh.
Rubbish, but it’s going. Love.
A wonderful several days in the city.
Seeing New York be itself, so jammed with people and cars and buildings, walking around its guts, atop its internal organs, breathing the city air and eating city food, I saw that same theme again – there is so much to do in this world.
I’m not unhappy at all with how the first nineteen years of my working life have gone, I just feel more strongly every day that there’s literally ∞-1 other options out there. As long as the family life can tolerate a change, there really is a buffet to choose from.
And when we got back to the RV it felt like home. Sharaun got a big new rug the other day and I really like how much it’s changed the feel of the main (only, really) space. It’s warmer and it removes some of the generic feel, says “lived-in” and it’s nice.
Today we’re on the road again. Moving further upstate, into the Finger Lakes. We’ll stop for a grocery run along the way. I don’t even know where we’re sleeping, but we’ve gotten way better at starting because we want to move in a direction rather than get to a specific destination.
This morning the fog was so thick around the RV that it felt like complete isolation, alone in the clouds. If not for the trees’ vertical slashes of dark, we could imagine ourselves asea, surrounded by leagues of empty.
The air so wet it dripped steadily on the roof as it condensed on and fell from tree limbs above. Loud popping sounds, irregularly spaced. We have the curtains drawn, over the blinds, keeping out the cold and in the warm. Geese honk from behind them.
This wild place, so near the bustling human hive of New York City, and other places like it also only minutes removed from civilization, give me a good opportunity to do quick A/B comparisons. And for me, wilderness and removed wins every time.
This change of scenery continues to feed me and change the way I think about things. Like what’s important and how we’re shaping our children while we still can. I’m going to find a way to continue. Not the trip, but the spirit.
How long is a week?
In my experience, a week can go by in a flash. Starting with a 6am Monday meeting with the east coast and ending with a 4pm Friday update to executive staff. Bookends to a five day blur of shifting emergencies and people issues and deadlines and bewildering changes in direction. And then it’s Saturday morning again and if you’re lucky you don’t have any weekend calls or work and you can decompress.
Also in my experience, a week can last a seriously long time. Enough to attend church on Sunday in central Pennsylvania, lounge on the beach for a couple days in Delaware, ride a steam train through Amish country, eat at an Amish smorgasbord, and attend church again before entering New Jersey. Three totally distinct changes of scenery, hundreds of miles, several games of Skip Bo with your wife and two bike rides with the kids.
B-weeks for the rest of my life, please.