Today I am packing easy-care outdoor clothes, precooking stews, cleaning the house and bathing the ferret. In two days, I leave on a month long, drag-an-RV-behind-the-truck road trip with my husband and two dogs (14 and 7 months old). Current status: What.thefrack.am.I.doing?
I started writing a fluffy-pancakes essay (with recipes!), a helpful, breezy entrée into the world of adventure travel blogging. Writing teachers say focus on the ‘you’ voice, write for your audience. Not the “I” voice. Alas, I don’t know what you need. (What’s up?) The truth is, this trip is deeply and profoundly about me. About us. About my need to re-member who I am and what I most value. Our need to re-connect away from the job and household chores, though we love those too. We leave on our anniversary and in the three years since we married and bought a home together, “I” has become “we”. We snuck up on me and I’m still not used to it, having been the I-am-woman-hear-me-go-on-road-trips-by-myself person. I rarely expected emotional intimacy from anyone and now, I am suffuse with it, deeply and daily reveling in the we space. I want to go deeper.
Professionally, I’m tired. Like so many of you (!), I too often subsume my deepest, most valuable strengths to “serve” other people’s visions and priorities. Even though, ironically, my role is to strategically craft vision and priorities. As a woman, I’ve ingested “second class” and invested in agendas that don’t give back as much as they take. Trusting my own leadership is hard won. Before deciding to take this trip, I decided to craft and follow my own vision and priorities. The metaphor of “road trip” — mapping a journey I collaboratively own — seems right. I trust metaphor.
Thus far, in typical fashion, I am all the frack over it. Multiple prioritized Trello task lists, multi-level gear spreadsheets, a stack of containers that fit in the RV with maps of what goes in them. I’ve never owned an RV and we still don’t know how to back it up correctly (gasp!). Yet, I’ll eat my hat if it’s not well outfitted. Decades of backpacking taught me that skill but also, mostly, I architect everything. Everything. All the time. Architecture is crafting a structure in which valuable experiences can happen. I architect technology so my materials are systems, code and engineering teams but the underlying purpose is the same. We have created a flexible structure with a comfortable foam mattress, Corelle dishes, freshly-washed dog beds, paper maps and a sewer hose we don’t know how to use yet. We have left many days unplanned so we can structure as we go. We are almost ready …
… for the difficult part. Enjoying the trip. I know, you just thought “What?!Huh?!” Letting go. Settling in, rolling with the journey as it unfolds. Release deciding, structuring, planning and just … go. Just. Be.
I am … okay, I suck at that. My mind makes noise. I need quiet.
I look forward to the rhythm: focused work every morning, packing up and heading to the next destination, cooking dinner in the evenings, hiking with the dogs, reading by the fire. Rest. Renewal. Heavenly in theory. In practice, well, we’ll see. Stay with me.