Roadtrips are supposed to be fun and I suppose the one I just completed was, in some way, just that. Yet, it was also full of stress, exhaustion, some fear, and a smattering of "what the heck are we doing?"
As Larry and I set out last Monday morning on our three day trip to South Carolina, we were both pretty quiet and introspective. We chatted about inconsequential things like, "Are we going to stop for Starbucks?" and "Where should we stop for gas?" At times the conversation turned to more anxiety-ridden topics like budgetting our expenses over the next few months, when and how Grace and I would handle our next phase of the move, and all of the nay-sayers who are listening to the media's account of how crappy the current housing market is. We stopped only for gas and to switch drivers. We ate only snack food and sandwiches and leftover pizza I packed from home. "Home." Hmmmm... where is that, exactly, now?
As we approached Gallup, NM that first day I think we were both amazed that we actually made 871 miles over 13 hours and didn't kill each other. We fell into our bed, slept fitfully and left again the next morning before our target time of 7am Mountain time.
We reminisced about the same trip we took in reverse nearly 13 years ago and spotted landmarks and other things we thought we remembered. We listened to books on CD, at times lost in our own thoughts that looked to the other like rapt attention. At some point, while still in New Mexico, my cellphone rang. The melodious southern voice on the other end, trying to be unalarming, asked me if I had an alternative phone number for my sister - my mother was in the Emergency Room in Raleigh, non-responsive. They were running tests. The question that hit me like a 2x4 across the eyebrows was, "Are you willing to honor the DNR request that we have in your mother's record?" Ok.... so how exactly do you respond to that? I mumbled something affirmative, found my sister's cellphone number and my nephew's as well. I was able to get ahold of my nephew who, like the sweetheart he is, headed straight for my mother's bedside.
For the next few hours, until I learned everything was under control, I mentally tried to figure out the closest major city we'd pass through so I could get a flight to Raleigh. By the time we stopped for some dinner in Oklahome City, however, it was apparent that would not be necessary and I actually got to talk with mom on the phone. Whew. Oklahoma City taught us a lesson in flexibilityand trusting our senses/faith to map out alternate directions when roadblocks are predicted. We took a large detour because of a nasty accident. We had stopped listening to the CD just a few minutes prior and had switched to local radio when we heard the traffic update. A few minutes prior to that we had called our son to look up the nearest Starbucks to the freeway and, because of his directions, were able to navigate around the accident and find food and coffee with ease. I don't doubt the subtle directional nudges and course corrections anymore! We didn't even lose time or add mileage!
By the time we made Van Buren, Arkansas (sounds like a line from an old Glen Campbell song) we were both beyond exhausted. Thoughts of doing this again the next day weighed on us both. I secretly wondered if I could actually get in the car again and that that maybe Larry would just have to leave me there! But we did. Thoughts of seeing our lifetime friends in Asheville kept us going. The third day was the only day with rain but even that was ok. The end of day three brought us through the grandeur and beauty of the Great Smokies and into the place where my soul has resided for the past 13 years! The welcoming arms of dear friends and a large pot of homemade chicken soup was just the thing these weary travelers needed.
The last leg was the longest - only two+ hours from Asheville to Greenwood, but the anticipation and anxiety added to the complete exhaustion made the trip feel like 100 hrs. We drove straight to my job interview and Larry set off to secure his housing - his home for the next two months. So this is where one journey ends and another begins.
I was offered and accepted a job. Larry is starting his new job and I have one that will start after the holidays. Exactly as I asked. Our new permanent home is out there somewhere waiting for us. Family and friends (new and old) are waiting to re-embrace us into the life we left so long ago. A new journey is beginning. It made the flight back to California even longer. I did meet some lovely people on the way back, though (Ann!). They helped pass the time - and even though we may not immediately understand why our paths crossed - they were a blessing to me.
What do I call this place now - "home?" I struggled so long with that word. For several years I refused to call this place "home." "Home" is where I'm from - this is where I "live." Hmmmm.... maybe the disconnect I've felt all these years has been of my own making - my refusal to see this place as 'home' has created the barriers I've railed about so often (with just about anyone who'd listen!). But that's all water under the bridge now. I can see, however, how difficult this may have made it for my children - it was their home - it still is there home. But I've tainted it for them, in some way. I regret that. And - I am sure it hasn't been easy for Larry, either - waiting for me to just accept this place and settle in.
The old journey isn't quite over yet, though. The minutae is waiting. The details are here begging to be taken care of. Not today, though. Today is for just "being" for a time. Looking around at the life that has been created and lived here with a discerning eye for what goes and what stays behind. So for now, I live in between the journey - somewhere on the circle that will lead to who-knows-where next...