Opening

27 May

This morning, I woke feeling refreshed and after listening to my new daily mantra song, I felt prepared to tackle this blog. (Thank you to Zolie for subbing-in for me yesterday). I sat before my laptop and began quickly scrolling through the #funemployment #roadtrip photos on my iPhone. Three or four emphatic downward swipes caused ~60 photos to fly by and immediately reduce me to tears. Wha’ tha? …

I took a short contemplative break, regained my composure and resumed swiping/scrolling.

The tears came again.

Damn.

What a mess I am. Where is all this emotion coming from?

After a long walk + an extended lunch with Q + a solid (if short) visit with G, I got a grasp on what was going on with my emotions.

It is overwhelming to fathom my great fortune:

  • How truly magical the last 4+ months were (especially given how challenging the last 4 years have been).
  • How beautiful our country is (and how easy it is to navigate).
  • How wonderful it is to experience so much of it under the power of my own two legs (with the help of Avengelyne’s two wheels, of course).
  • But, most of all, how completely extraordinary, good, generous, kind, devoted, creative, magnanimous, welcoming, and unforgettable the people who made this trip possible (especially all 49 of my host families) are!

I might be the luckiest person alive to have woven so many marvelous characters into the warp of my life. Appreciating this truth brings tears my heart that leak out through my eyes.

G asked me how I knew all the people who served as my hosts: “Were they all good friends, or….?

I told her I didn’t know how to answer that question; that I was confused by what the “or…. ?” part might mean.

She said, “You know, were they like people you spent a lot of time with before; that you already knew real well? ’cause I think it would be uncomfortable to just start living with people who you didn’t really know very well, you know?”

Huh.

I honestly never thought about that before.

When G asked “Were they all good friends, or…?” my gut reaction was: Well, duh! Yes, of course! Because that’s how I felt when I was with them. Everything felt easy. Comfortable. Right. As is should be, etc.

But now, truth be told, I guess that–with 2 or 3 exceptions–I suppose I’d have to say that almost none of them qualified as “really good friends” prior to the moment Zolie and I arrived at their doorsteps. Some I hadn’t seen in literally 25 years — and even 25 years ago we probably said less to one another during an entire year than I’ve just said to you now. I think only maybe a half-dozen of them had seen me or even talked to me on the phone since my brain-bashing.

So, No, I guess most of my hosts weren’t really “friends” at all — at least not in the traditional sense. And yet, here they were eagerly, warmly, generously welcoming me into theie homes. No questions asked.

Although that’s not quite true either. Most of them DID ask questions like:

  • Besides beer and bacon, what sort of food would you like me to get?
  • Is it OK if I play hooky on Tuesday and Wednesday so we can have adventures together?
  • Do you mind if we take you out for dinner?
  • Do you want me to find good routes for you to ride?
  • Do you want me to drive my car behind you while you ride so that our jackass farmers don’t hit you with their tractors?
  • Do you mind if I join you for a ride?
  • Will you teach me / my kids how to play UNO?
  • Is it OK if I bring my mom / friend / colleague / neighbor over to meet you?
  • Can you explain Holocaust reparations and/or TBI to my kid / spouse / friend?
  • What temperature do you prefer for the hot tub?
  • Do you need to do any laundry?
  • Can I give Zolie a treat?
  • Can you stay longer?

Mind you, these are all questions they asked before I even arrived. They knew me well enough to intuit all these things about me and my situation. They opened their hearts and homes wide enough to make me feel like truly one of their family. Whether it was a 7,000 sq.ft. home with movie theater or a 900 sq. ft. apartment with a sofa bed. A family with 4 kids, a newly engaged couple, a pair of retired empty nesters, wild-and-crazy single folks, singletons who prefer to be hermits, gay couples, straight couples, cohabitants of various genders and relations, dog owners, cat owners, goat owners, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Green Partiers, or just plain ol’ partiers (although, really, I don’t think anyone qualified for that category — we are all either just-plain-old, or plain-old-souls….): Every single one of my hosts and the people with whom the usually share their walls and roof made me feel like I have been a part of their world since before I ever even met them.

Yesterday, Zolie wrote about the BEST DAY EVER and shared several examples of what qualified for that distinction in her book. Now, she, of course, is a dog and dogs are notorious for finding joy in every moment, no matter how mundane.

I am not a dog (at least not in the traditional sense), but when I think about the road trip, when I speed-scroll through all those iPhone photos, I share her sense of enthusiastic awe and gratitude. Every day really *was* the BEST DAY EVER because the people who allowed me into their lives made it so.

I often quip that my brain is like an Etch-a-Sketchยฎ, unable to hold onto ideas for any appreciable amount of time. That is decidedly not the case here. I will remember forever, and be eternally grateful for, the heightened adventure and tender compassion shared with me during my road trip.

In the weeks that follow, I will share some of the trip’s stand-out moments. Not all the tales will be told. Not all the tales should be told. But the tales that *do* get told will be resplendent.

Thank you for making magic happen for me during the past 4 months, host family people. I love you all & the door is always open to you here.

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4 Responses to “Opening”

  1. Amanda May 27, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    This is lovely. Sorry we here in the NYC area didn’t get a chance to share in this adventure, but looking forward to the next!

    • justadventures May 28, 2015 at 5:14 am #

      Thank you! I am still bummed about jettisoning the NE, but I will get there soon!

  2. Carissa Barker May 28, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    Geez, I did none of those nice things. I got you to shovel snow and cook me dinner!

    • justadventures May 28, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

      You joined me for a sufferfest when I had to use that damn trainer for so long. Super above-and-beyond the call of duty there!

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