Welcome to “A Month in a Minivan” – the 2019 edition.
I did this last year, and as a writer, it was super satisfying to have a daily practice. Although I thrive in this mostly non-stuctured life, I sometimes crave something measurable to work toward and having a commitment to write each day for a whole month definitely put a spring in my step. I also found it to be a wonderful tool for self-discovery, and I learned a lot about my inner workings.
But most of all, it was meaningful to have your company. That’s really what brings me back this year. Connection is what brings us back for seconds, isn’t it?
It reminds me how I like someone to keep me company while I do the dishes. I don’t need you to dry them, or put them away. I just like when you sit with me, and we have lazy but meaningful conversation while I go about this seemingly ordinary task. Seemingly. Big problems are often solved over the dishes. Dirty goes in. Swish swish. Check. Swish once more. Clean comes out.
It’s easy to overlook the power of ordinary moments or tasks. We tend to look away while we are doing them, like nothing is really happening. Or we think about other things. There is something about daily journalling that taps into the beauty of the ordinary.
Like survival, for instance. The desert is always reminding me to honour the seemingly ordinary task of sheer survival. I found this cacti growing out of a rock cliff the other day way out in the desert at Alamo. I found myself saying “You Got This” as I took the picture.
You know I’ll still be serving up stories. You can’t take the story out of this teller. But if I’m writing a daily journal, the stories will be served alongside oatmeal, and you’re just going to have to persevere. Think of the stories like the raisins in your oatmeal. How are you going to get to that raisin if you don’t eat your oatmeal? And while I’m here, I’m going to review the benefits of oatmeal, for the uninitiated. With hope that maybe the oatmeal will grow on you.
As far as I can tell, oatmeal is where more most of my daily nourishment comes from. Sure, it seems a bit bland at first. I don’t know what it is about the human species, but we seem to hunger for Eggs Benedict and are quite sure life would be best if it were an all-you-can-eat-eggs-benny-buffet. All Benny; All the Time. When I came to the road, I was quite sure I’d subscribed to Unlimited Benny. I thought life on the road would be a smorgasbord of Benny-experiences.
It’s not. For me anyway. Maybe I got into the wrong line or hit the wrong button. But it no longer matters, I’m not searching for Eggs Benny anymore. I’m adding a bit of Canadian maple syrup and humming. “If you cant be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
So, this “month of musing” will be sung primarily in the key of oatmeal. With heart and conviction. Because oatmeal is the string that flies my kite. Oatmeal is the dark sky that makes my stars stars shine. Oatmeal is the space on the wall between two works of art that allows both of them to be recognized as unique. Oatmeal is the glue that holds my raisins.
On the road, oatmeal is dumping a small bag of garbage at a local gas station and discovering they also dispense your favourite reverse osmosis water and refill propane. Oatmeal is peeing behind a bush and having a close encounter with a hummingbird while you are there. Oatmeal is the time you spend finding a level parking spot that gives you a good night’s sleep.
Meetings, greetings and partings are a part of this life, and I have learned to cope better but oh, I was sad to leave Alamo Lake and the people there. It’s a close little nomadic/seasonal community consisting of people who take care of each other. That seems a contradiction, doesn’t it? “Nomadic” and “close” but that is one of the many surprises of this life. More often than not, they are found together.
And I was sad to leave a friend. I’m learning to say “See you on down the road” instead of goodbye, but it’s still hard. If partings are part of the oatmeal of this life, it’s a salty bowl of the sticky stuff.
On my way out, I stopped to see if I left a couple socks at the Wayside Oasis. Turns out that in addition to the socks, I left half a load of laundry in a washer. My “rip-the-bandaid- off-fast” early morning departure turned into six quarters in the dryer, another cup of coffee at the Wayside, a visit with a neighbour and a walk with Pippa; in addition to reclaiming my clothing. Which I didn’t, apparently, even miss. So, I donated them (except the socks) to someone there who said they would happily take them to a women’s shelter in Phoenix.
So, we got on the road a little later than anticipated, and after one more uplifting visit in nearby Wenden, I put only a couple hours of asphalt behind Pippa and I, before I just didn’t have it in me to drive any further. Always one to look for signs, I saw mine just seconds after realizing I was done for the day. It said: “Lake Pleasant Regional Park”
Not “Lake Spectacular.”
Not “Best Lake EVER.”
Not “Lake to End All Lakes”
Lake Pleasant. That sounded just right. A classic oatmeal-inspired guide-word. With a surprise, Eggs Benedict view.
I wonder where tomorrow will take us. I’m so happy to have your company.