July 13, 2017
This always happens when I get "behind" in writing, which is to say, when I'm not able to write every weekday morning as is my normal routine.
When I start again, the question is always, "where do I pick up the story? where I left off, or where I am now?"
It is the middle of July and the last morning writing time I was able to claim was the end of June. And then we traveled some more, hiked, traveled some more, went backpacking, returned from backpacking (which is a kind of re-entry to life), traveled some more and now we're here, in beautiful Berkeley California.
This road trip has been a trip of firsts. Our first time driving through Iowa and Nebraska. Our first visits to Colorado and Nevada and now our first time in California, landing in Berkeley of all places. Berkeley is a city of legendary and historical significance spanning the free speech movement to FreeBSD. I love visiting places with a certain cultural gravitas, even if it's just 20th century cultural gravitas (says the girl who's never left the continent).
And now that I am in Berkeley it is time to collect my thoughts from the past few weeks, publish the photos of hiking in Colorado, driving through Utah (oh Utah!) and backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas. It's time to unwind and relax a little. It's time for a bit of a vacation.
Traveling has not been a vacation. We travel to see things, meet people, explore the world but I do not find traveling - the process of going one place, then the next, then the next - to be a vacation. I've mentioned this a few times on the blog, and especially addressed it in this post last year.
Transitions are very stressful for me and the hardest part of traveling. The disruption to routine, the coming and going, make me feel disorientated, sometimes for days. And if these days of transitions are stacked back-to-back it makes for a lot of days of disorientation and feeling "off".
I know this about myself but this self-knowledge doesn't necessarily make things easier, because in order to move from one place to the next - temporally, spatially, spiritually, relationally - you must go through transition. It can't be avoided. And for me, it's like my worst self comes out in those spaces. Stressed, anxious, uptight - you know, exactly the kind of mother you want your kids to remember from their summer roadtrip.
I want to be different in those situations. I want to adjust better to transitions but sometimes I just can't. get. there. from. here.
The transitions of the last two weeks have been a necessary part of our trip but when we made the schedule for this trip it was important to me to secure, to the best of our ability, a long stretch in one place. One of my fundamental drives is to nest, make home, create routines and spaces for living. I feel most comfortable "in my own skin" in those routines and spaces that I create.
I now have a stretch of time without deadlines, without time crunches, without "be on the road by this time", without moving from state to state, campground to friends' houses, to the woods, back to friends' houses, back to campgrounds. I have a stretch of time to be in a place and fall into a routine and manage my "own" space.
We're on a boat right now in the Berkeley Marina. The boat is owned by one of Damien's clients and work friends who has graciously provided both the boat and the berth at the marina. It's like staying in an RV on the water.
Berkeley is our homebase for the next three weeks from which to explore the Bay area and perhaps head back into the mountains for some weekend hikes. We'll visit San Francisco for sure (several times), I'll be walking the beautiful bay beaches and exploring touristy and cultural stuff here with the kids (the list of things to do here is long). Maybe I'll stalk Anne Lamott (just kidding).
But mostly during this time I'm placing a high priority on rest and taking whatever vacation opportunities are available to me.
I work hard all year to support my family. (So does Damien, this is a mutually invested endeavour.) There are seasons where it seems like I lose myself to the kid's activities and priorities. I support my husband in part by taking these trips and having experiences together. These three weeks I need to support myself.
I'm going to read and nap, prepare easy meals (so that's nothing new, "easier" easy meals, made possible with a nearby Trader Joe's). I'll be taking long walks for the pure joy of photographing new-to-me flowers and beautiful houses. I'm going to delight in exploring one of America's most desirable and quirky urban places to live.
I'll be going to the beach, exploring the farmer's markets, hanging out at the library (I love visiting libraries wherever I go, I feel grounded there). I'm not committing myself to anything that doesn't truly require a commitment.
Life feels like a gauntlet sometimes of decisions and relationship stresses, social commitments, text notifications, and traffic. I just need a break. I can't escape all the necessary work of life, but as much as possible I'm going to carve out a time here in Berkeley that is restorative and restful. I'm going to take a vacation.
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