Well, folks, I’m heading out again. Not to the Columbia Gorge you see above, nor even east of the Cascade Mountains, both favorite places. But there will be week-ends for that kind of moseying another month. Still, this view is spectacular and is my home territory. It is a comfort to look at. I thought it served this post well.
The situation is this: I have been cajoled and enticed once again by my oldest daughter, Naomi, to get on a couple of airplanes and meet her in upstate New York. From there we will be driving down to South Carolina with a few choice stops along the way. She is a real, not a pretend, traveler. I’m more the latter–I just say I love travel when mostly I read travel articles and watch National Geographic documentaries. And take a few week-end side trips, a family vacation a couple times a year for a whole seven days. Oh, in the past I have been more spontaneous and far flung. I don’t recall having such second thoughts in my second, third and fourth decades. And I feel I’d enjoy even more roaming….if I can better take myself in hand. But perhaps on foot or by car, bus, train, ferry or a yacht (yes, the last was as fun as imagined). Yes, that’s more how I like heading out.
I have written about this dilemma before, when I flew out to help her move two years ago: https://talesforlife.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/becoming-bolder-disclosures-of-a-somewhat-reluctant-adventurer/.
That post got surprisingly big views. I saw I was not alone in having issues–a sort of existential love-hate about taking off via planes and so on.
Let’s just say I drag my heels until I absolutely must face the reality and get ready. I leave in a bit over 48 hours. I have a ton to get done before then, including readying things for a visit to our place by another daughter and her husband upon return. I may need to persuade my spouse to scrub floors, do laundry, make as little mess as possible. But housework is hardly a decent reason to lag behind.
I adore Naomi and we’ll have a good time on the road so I just have to gather the momentum and go. I’m also pretty good at acting as if I am confident even if I am a quaking mass of pudding inside. So that’s a plus. I picture myself striding through airports like an old hand. I will not take sedation; I will be alert and lively.
This is the same kind of circumstance as last time: she is leaving one university for another. The moving company will do their part–I’m not quite up to that much heavy lifting or hauling. We are then driving down to her new habitat by the Southern institution. An artist (primarily sculptor) and professor, she garnered a position that bodes well for long term employment and deeper roots. I am excited for her movement forward and pleased she asked me once more to go along for the ride. Maybe I wasn’t too neurotic after all.
At first, I even had good reasons to not go this year, things that could have stood firmly between me and 2800 miles to her spot on the map. She is persistent, congenially so. Anyone born two and half months early and not only survives but flourishes must have a will of iron. Intrepid, at times. This is a woman who just returned from a six week sojourn around/within the Faroe Islands. And Scotland and England. Much of that time was spent on an aging but apparently seaworthy sloop. I didn’t have the vaguest idea where those islands were, and when I found out I wanted to yank her away from the notion and airport by the ankles. On a creaky, leaky boat in the powerful Atlantic Ocean? She loved it there.
A couple days ago she told me–sent a picture, actually, too–about something unexpected even for her. When she got back from a car-trip through several states following her Faroe Islands trip (she got back three weeks ago–isn’t she exhausted yet?–and she packed before and after…), she was greeted by a bat in her bathroom. Yes, a small bat was lying in her tub. She was concerned for its welfare. I immediately did risk assessment: did it drool even a tiny bit on her? Did it try to nibble her? Was there foam coming out its mouth?
“I just got a big baggie and nudged him in there and then took it outdoors. Never touched him, Mom. Poor guy, I think he’s not doing too well.”
I talked to her today at length. I was thinking of taking my tick repellent, since there are plenty of those out East. She assured me that as long as we are in her vehicle and on asphalt all will be well. I thought I heard her wrong. It’s not like we will be living 24-7 in her SUV. We will have to eat and use the restroom and stretch our legs. She wants to visit friends along the way, and then there are sightseeing moments. I want to walk, even hike some, too.
“Well, buy some lightweight quick-dry pants and we’ll stuff your pant legs into your socks and cover your arms and I’ll dose you with bug spray, and myself. You’ll be as safe, I guess, as anyone can hope to be. Do NOT bring your own supply of bug sprays–I have what we need. In fact, don’t need to pack shampoo and other hair products–I am sure I have it all.”
But that wasn’t all. I am supposed to pack light. There won’t be extra space for much else in her gas hog by the time she piles the last stuff in the cargo area and back seat. And we’ll be pulling a trailer, too, I might add–her gallery on wheels, how she stores all her art (rather large, mostly) and miscellaneous art-making supplies. But packing light is very hard for me. Is that a small or medium bag?
“You know, carry-on. Best to keep it simple and compact and not check luggage, you know.”
“But I know what I need and what I want to have with me,” I remind her. “In case.”
“And it is usually too much. I just got through six weeks with three of each vital pieces, a few pair of foot-saving socks and a warm, waterproof jacket. You’ll be gone for ten days. If I can live out of a backpack…”
“Ugh.” (Alright, I didn’t say that but I thought it regarding the “three of each” part.) “Well, you’re a veteran. I’ll consider your advice.”
And I do accept her tips as reasonable, smart. I don’t always use them. How many earrings can I fit in, what number of shoes? Face lotion, mix and match outfits? Rain coat? It can be rainstorm weather there this time of year, have to be prepared. So unlike the Pacific NW in summer, where sunshine is strong, free of clingy humidity and most clouds evaporate by noon. The SE portion of the country requires air conditioning or one risks a full melt if left in the outdoors too long.
And let’s not talk about bed and breakfasts or hotels, the widely variable food on the road. I know, be flexible, try to not have expectations–and be surprised! That exclamation mark makes me feel more cheerful about possibilities already.
I realize I’m edging toward whining already and I haven’t even thought consciously, deeply, about flying. And going through Customs, since I am flying through Canada to get to New York. (Note to self: must research this online, then write down their expectations.) Talk to husband, who has flown internationally often enough.
“Follow along in the packed lines after exiting plane, you cannot escape it. Or ask other people.” He adds sympathetically: “Call me if desperate.”
I do, thankfully, still hold a valid passport from our other forays into Canada. (Memo: find passport tonight and put it by suitcase. Which one? No, in purse. Which purse shall I take…? Not too bulky. But there is the shoulder bag I must carry for books, tablet and camera….)
I’m in trouble already. I know–just think of it as an extended week-end at the Oregon beach. No big deal. Keep it simple, that’s the way.
You can see I am preparing for this–I’m working on a plan. It’s not a big time away, true, more like short-to-sort-of medium length in miles and time, not even close to epic. But it feels substantial. I’m seeing my daughter, entering the rippling and surging stream of her life, which is radically different from mine in most ways. And I only get to have her once or twice a year. How generous that she gave me the ticket that’s allowing me to talk with her face-to-face soon, to just hang out.
I have to finish this up–there is dinner, checking my lists and then a scan and tally of clothing options and accouterments. I have little clue what can be squashed into that blasted carry-on. Husband says to roll my clothes, an old trick. A suitable challenge. Minimalist living is supposed to be good for you. Ah, a decent spiritual challenge! As all life is for me, ultimately.
I’ll be back to these pages in two weeks, ready to scribble more odds and ends. Not writing more than a few stolen moments will be a hurdle to jump over. (Note: must make room for notebook to gather any epiphanies and random jottings; do not forget good pen.) I do look forward to discovering what new stories get stirred up. Until then, fare thee well–go out there and make your own beautiful fun!