I'm sitting in a Minneapolis coffee shop with my Austin man, and we've been planning out our trip since 9am. Pouring over an atlas that's the size of BOTH of our laptops pushed together, sending emails and texts to contacts/friends who will house us or say hello over coffee, twenty tabs open with distances from city-to-city and lists of the must-see places.
We have responded to your emails and are waiting for solid replies back from potential hosts. From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you each for the generous hospitality. I wish we could stay with each person who has volunteered their home and pour hot cups of tea or coffee over and over again and stay long, late nights catching up. I know it won't work out to see everyone, sometimes in this 21st century world with meetings and deadlines and messy highchairs and bus routes, schedules simply cannot be revised. But please know that we do not take your generosity lightly and sincerely pray for your best.
Our schedule is slightly fluid, in order for us to move at as un-hurried a pace as possible, but in theory, we will be staying several days in each area, moving phlegmatically from Seattle to the Redwoods to Wine Country to the S.N. Foothills to San Diego.
Are we excited much?
It's hard to believe this is happening. Wasn't November just a few weeks ago, and our big-eyed plans just pipe-dreams in the sky?
Not any more. It's really, truly happening. I think it sunk in when we received our Grand Canyon permits in the mail.
And I'm learning that planning is half the fun, and also half the stress.
I'm learning that as hard as it is to juggle logistics, schedules, itineraries, campground fees and difficult reservations, it's equally hard to remain unstressed, with agendas and time frames and the feeling of possibly letting people down. It's so tempting to try to jot everything in, "make the most" of our time, like good 21st-century Americans - but then I make this trip just like any other trip, living as though I'm on a tour bus instead of a sabbatical; a time to truly taste (all that good Napa wine). To truly rest and connect person-to-person instead of being constantly stimulated via internet and text. (What will the Tetons be like?)
Maybe it's just me - it always seems like other people control their stress so easily, truly live moment-to-moment. Yet it's so easy for me to want to slice up moments and take a snapshot of everything, like a grandma's scrapbook - instead of living with every sense alive, you limit your life to ONLY a snapshot, an instagram photo - a scrap of physical evidence to wave above your head, to prove that you were once physically in a certain place at a certain time, one more "place" to check off your bucket list - but there is nothing to prove you were emotionally, mentally, FULLY there until you can pass on your stories to your family, friends, maybe children. Your stories - not the ones lived by anyone except you. Living stories the way only YOU - I - can live them.
So, in an effort to fall off the grid and spend time in nature with my boyfriend and brother, I will be limiting our trip updates and blog posts to every Tuesday or Wednesday. (hold me to that!)
If anyone has specific rituals or thought processes (or herbal potions!) that aid the separation of life and internet, please pass them along. I'd love to hear them.