leonard’s cherry knoll

Yesterday we stopped for dinner at a true greasy spoon.

A decades old faded sign marked the rundown building sitting in the dead middle of a massive, empty, poorly paved and potholed parking lot. A derelict pumping station on the back edge of the huge lot, and plenty of room for truckers to pull off on the muddy curtain.

Inside was that sort of brokedown familiar, you can probably see the joint in your mind’s eye before I even describe it. Walls and floors ala manufacturered home. Brown water stains swirl on the acoustic ceiling tiles. Counter straight ahead with stool seating, tickets hung in the kitchen window, tables in ordered rows in the open space and walls lined with booths, menus stacked near the register.

All the furniture of the sort that surely was the #1 selling brand to diner owners across America in the early 1970s. The penultimate diner booth: metal edging around the flecked-top laminate table, faux leather benchs, that black napkin dispenser with a layer of dust on top.

Nothing looks particularly clean, but maybe that’s just age. This place is established. I overhear the single waitress ask, “the usual?” at two different tables, exchanging pleasantries with the regulars.

There’s a board with specials on either side of the house, nice handwriting. Today there’s a choice of soups: ham & cabbage or ground beef macaroni tomato. You can get a cup of either with a tuna melt for $8. There’s also baked chicken, potatoes, and green beans or a chicken club sandwich, both also $8.

I opt for the tomato soup and tuna melt. It’s toasted white bread with a slice of cheese-food on either side, chunk tuna and mayo in between. I’m not even a big fan of tuna, but it feels right to order this here… like the institution demanded it. Ate it all gone, tipped 20%.

I’m not sick today so there’s that.

back

Excuse my absence.

Last week my mother-in-law came to stay with us, wanting to experience road life and see some of New England. We had a great time and the schedule worked like magic. We got to show her a little of Massachusetts, and a good bit of New Hampshire and Vermont.

I didn’t write much. One, because I typically write during the time where I’m up in the morning and the family is not, but Sharaun’s mom is also an early riser so we took to taking a walk each day instead. Two, because I used her time here as a tool to help me use this stupid phone so much. So, a little digital break & some morning walking instead.

Changing gears… one of this things I enjoy about this trip is learning the different ways each of us in the family is experiencing it. Not to get all cerebral, but I find that each of us had different expectations going in, is getting different things from it along the way, and we’ll likely each be changed in different ways upon coming back.

When we really talk about it together, I learn all kinds of things.

Yesterday evening, walking the shore of Lake Champlain with Sharaun, I said something that made me realize that, all along, I’ve been thinking of the trip as the time between the end of one thing and the beginning of a new thing, a transition. To Sharaun and Keaton, however, it’s more like a long pause; a break from, but a return to, a single, same, unchanged thing.

This is a big difference of perception, and explains a lot to me about my attitude towards the trip’s drawing to a close versus theirs. As our last months and weeks and days pass, a brand new start is what’s ahead in my mind – all the nervousness and uncertainty and fear. In their mind it’s a return to normal – a joyous reunion with anticipation and welcoming and familiar comforts.

OK so I painted that a little more black and white than it is for the sake of making the point. Still, it was a realization for me.

Hugs.

boundaries

I continue to use writing to process my thoughts on returning to the working world after this year on the road.

Back in March I wrote that I’d been working to capture a minimal set of highest-order “environmental criteria” I’d like to be sure are met by my next career move. In that writing, I decided that job satisfaction for me is less about what I’m doing and more about the environment in which I’m doing it.

I wanted to keep the list short and succinct. Three bullets, all tight single sentences. I find enforcing that sort of brevity helps me avoid the long-windedness I’m prone to. In the end the below is what I’ve landed on and am happy with. A bit more about each underneath, for my own sake.

  1. No longer “on call:” No standing expectation to be available (email, text, cell) outside working hours
  2. Lesss hectic calendar: Fewer meetings & more time for doing, innovating, giving back
  3. Healthier work/life balance: Respect for sanctity & prioritization of family time

Reflecting, I don’t think any are too bold, unrealistic, or read as entitled. Some are certainly “whiplash,” where I’m essentially saying I don’t want to go back to how it was, but I think that’s OK because they’re also honest hopes I have in what a different work environment may be able to offer.

In regard to #1, I really enjoy helping people so being in customer service/support is a natural match. Having to make service of those customers higher priority than my evenings, weekends, and family time, however, sucks. With room for reasonable exception, I want less corporate intrusion into non-working hours.

#2 then. Corporate types feel a sense of status from how overbooked we are. Busy busy busy – that’s how you’ll know I’m a successful person. I’ll tell you about the 5am/5pm Sunday meetings I have with the factory in Vietnam, and even though it appears I’m griping, I’m also bragging. I need much less of this, honestly because I get caught up in it and become it.

For #3, it’s easy. Cultures and bosses who get off on the opposite of numbers 1 and 2 above will fail to be able to meet this criteria. I understand that some folks are fine deriving all their value and satisfaction from busyness and stress, and that’s great but it’s not what I want to be a part of. Simple.

Fin.

Hearts.

distinction

Getting there vs. being there.

Leaving from vs. going to.

I have issues with these distinctions.

Most often, I just want to be there, and completely miss the getting there. It’s behavior I find difficult to change even on this trip, which is literally designed to make the getting there the there. Yet I struggle still. In fact even when the there is nowhere near as interesting as the getting there, I’ll still rush and, upon arriving early, wonder why.

Similarly, I tend to think of transitions primarily as endings as opposed to beginnings. I feel, however, that this over-seasons things in terms of loss or setback versus renewal or adventure, and thus tends to make me avoid change. If I could at least be balanced, knowing that all transition is both loss and growth, I think I’d be better for it.

Worse, I have this sneaking suspicion that life is a constant state of transition and is always getting there versus ever being anywhere…

Let’s not squander.

Peace.

beach day

More than warm, without the breeze I’d probably even say it’s hot.

The kids and I (Mom is away at a girlfriend’s 40th) took an easy fifteen minute bike ride down to the beach. Without Mom around to help tote beach gear we were undermanned and had to get creative in lading my bike like a pack mule.

We’re all setup though, and I like to think the haze on the horizon is me being able to see the end of Long Island across the Sound. It’s not, and I can’t, but I like trying to understand the geography of the places we go, so much is unfamiliar to me.

Sharaun’s mom is flying out to join us for a week on Monday. She’ll be a part of the road trip through New Hampshire and Vermont, and I’m quite excited for her to see just how we get along day to day. I’ve taken a little extra care to pick scenic routes and fabulous looking stops, hoping she gets a positive experience.

Back to my book then. Kisses.

thwarted

It’s raining outside.

I’m outside.

Under the RV’s awning. Wearing a sweatshirt and long pants and socks on unshod feet because a chill came up when the clouds decided to loose. It was warm and sunny all morning, I changed from shorts and a t-shirt and un-socked feet. Feel better now, warmer.

Wilco is on.

I love being outside in, but also sheltered from, the rain. Thwarting its designs to get me wet, living my life right out in it. It’s particularly enjoyable tucked up against the RV under the awning. There’s this curtain of rain on three sides, but I’m untouchable. Wasn’t in the forecast, but I’m enjoying it.

Elvis Costello has shuffled up now.

Rhode Island is apparently fiercely anti-alcohol… can’t buy anything anywhere but specialized liquor stores and possession is grounds for eviction from all state parks. It’s on the signage and in the paperwork and stamped in fresh ink on the receipt, in case you somehow missed it twice. I’m drinking a beer.

Grateful Dead now, Fall tour 1980.

We’re making steaks tonight. RV pantry is less stocked than a home so we improvised a marinade I’m quite excited about. Cohen’s going to help cook, also excited about that. Will pair it with fried “Grammy potatoes” and asparagus.

Rain still coming down, Dead still playing.

Peace.

happy together

Good morning from a forest.

Yesterday, in the morning after a night of consistent, if not heavy, rain, I walked our full garbage bag down to toss it into the dumpster.

The trees here just a little north of Boston somehow remind me of a couple places we stayed in California on the front end of this trip, when things were still beginning and new. For a moment, I remembered some of the joy I’d felt then when I would stop and contemplate our situation.

You know the special kind of remembering where you’re almost there again? Remembering that comes with feelings and smells and sounds, not just the usual mental diary entries with pictures? It was that kind.

Walking back through the trees, everything wet from rain, I had a flash moment where I recalled, bodily, how free and amazing I felt then, knowing I had a year to explore creation with my family, anticipating.

And here I am, eight months later and a whole United States away from those first places. That inchoate joy now come of age and so full inside me it is simply me. Happy and together and knowing that holding onto this learning come the nearing after is imperative.

Sorry, I know I say the same things over and over. Hugs.