This past week I drove from Western Massachusetts to Chicago to visit one of my closest friends. It was a fourteen hour drive not including my pitstops.
This time is sacred to me. I can think, daydream, listen to music and podcasts, and just leave everything else behind me. I can’t do anything but drive and let my mind wander. I can only do what I can do, I have to allow myself to make steady progress. There is absolutely no way I am getting there any faster than I am going to.
It’s a relief.
So much of my time is spent feeling pressured to hurry up and accomplish something. Hurry up and be successful. Hurry up and get your shit together.
It’s funny. I have no idea what any of those things look like. The only thing I know is I need to hurry up and figure it all out.
Driving gives me a chance to take a step back. I have a destination but it is okay if the road has detours. The detours can be the best part of the whole trip.
My favorite part of this picture is how clearly the rearview mirror image contrasts with the view in front. I can’t always see where I am headed but if I take time to look back it will be clear where I have been.
I was driving through the northeast corner of New Mexico when I was forced to stop and take a selfie. Raton is not my favorite city and I was actually planning on driving right on by, however I really needed something to drink and to have a little pit stop. I pulled off into the first parking lot I saw, and you cannot possibly imagine my delight when I met this fella.
I was afraid he was going to lash out and attack me. (I mean, what kind of establishment has a guard bear?)
I somehow figured out his name MUST be Bert the Bear, and I am convinced I should have spent a little more time investigating this situation. Why is this bear being held captive in front of this tourist trap? Who is a tourist in Raton? Shhh. I was NOT a tourist! Just because I stopped to take a selfie in front of a highway restaurant does NOT make me a tourist. Wait until you see the bathroom pics in the next installment of Signs. Yep, I am still that girl. Sorry, not sorry.
I suppose you could say I have a weird fascination with inanimate animals. I want them to be having conversations when my back is turned. I guess sometimes the fantasy of childhood stories is still attractive to me. What if these frozen creatures are just waiting to become real?
Margery Williams said it best in The Velveteen Rabbit.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Perhaps Bert the Bear just needs to be loved, then he can become real. He would most likely have to go live in the woods at that point. He would want to start dating other real bears, and most likely would like to start a family. Maybe he could even get a job with Smokey the Bear fighting wildfires. Is Smokey even still around?
I imagine I would be sad like I was watching E.T. as a child. I still cry like a baby every single time! The Velveteen Rabbit makes me cry too. I even cried when Steve went to college on Blue’s Clues. I think it may have something to do with loss. Moving on. Starting a new chapter.
This year has been full of transition for me. I changed jobs, started traveling, and made a lot of new friends. The hard part is not seeing my old friends with the regularity I am accustomed to. I miss them. I find myself wondering what they are doing now. I miss the inside jokes and laughter. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I wonder if I am ever going to have these kind of relationships again.
The most challenging aspect of leaving the comforts of the familiar is the fear of forming new attachments. Part of me does not want to risk feeling the way I did when I was trying to plan for my future. I felt like I was unfaithful to my work family. I had dedicated so much energy to getting the job, learning the job, keeping the job, and finally in the end, leaving the job. What is the protocol for changing everything about the way you live your life? How should you approach the transition from completely career oriented to fighting the tendency with everything you have?
I think I understand why divorced people often get married so quickly. It is an undeniable force with a gravitational pull to the very thing you have been trying to avoid. I wanted to stop having my work as a nurse practitioner as my primary focus in life. This does not make the work unimportant, it is simply an attempt to have more balance. My problem is my constant need to be working on a project coupled with a painfully short attention span.
Oh! Back to the story about Bert the Bear.
On my way home I obviously had to stop and see Bert. I was curious if he had met someone special, and secretly hoped he would figure out how to unchain himself from his bonds. Alas, he was still in the exact same position when I rolled to a stop in the parking space directly in front of him.
Now, meet Barry the Fishing Bear. He is soft, cuddly and could probably keep you a little warmer at night than Bert could. Barry was just sitting inside the restaurant, chillin’, and dare I say waiting? When I saw him our eyes met and it was magic. It was Kismet. Destiny demanded a selfie with this handsome dude. I offered to take him back to Texas with me, but he wanted to go back to Colorado for the winter. I think he skis Vail or something like that.
I totally crack myself up on my road trips. I listen to podcasts and have private concerts. Car dancing is usually a guarantee. I am experiencing more of the world and learning to do something other than work. I think it has been good for me.
The best part? Well, despite the fact I am no longer employed full-time with my old job, we all have phones, Facebook, and I still work there sometimes when I am in town. I have not lost anything. I am simply gaining new experiences and skills. If I find myself too lonely Work Mommy and Work Daddy are just a phone call away. Actually, so is my real Mommy.
This is an adventure. I am lucky to have this chance.
I have spent my entire life as a resident of Texas. I am now considering a new adventure which could lead to more exploring of this great state.
There are so many reasons why I should stay put, and enjoy the life I have built here in West Texas. I have good friends, my family is here, and I am scared.
I do not pretend to be this wall of self-confidence, and most people who know me understand I am generally wracked with self- doubt and negative self-talk. (How many times can I hyphenate self-words in one sentence?)
I was talking to one of Tough Mudder Buddies recently, and he was talking about his job search. He was explaining how he felt he needed to be ready for certain positions, and I came up with some profound statement about how when we wait until we are ready, we never do anything. It’s true.
I have never been “ready” for anything to happen in my life. I have always been a little scared of the unknown, and more than a little nervous at the prospect of change. I am working to overcome this.
There is this little ridiculous part of me which makes me feel somewhat disloyal when I seek to make changes in my life. As if I am not appreciative of what I already have. This is silly. Why would I think this way about myself? I certainly don’t begrudge others when they seek to improve themselves.
It’s time to see what the world has to offer. It is time to see what I am capable of.
I owe it to myself, and to all the people who have taught me.
I was given an amazing opportunity, and I learned so much. I was afraid of that challenge too. I am heading into this with an open mind, and an open heart. I need to allow myself to honestly evaluate if this is a good opportunity for me and my career.
There are a lot of important factors to be considered. I am going to seek the counsel of my mentors and family. I know I can look at these situations objectively, and I know I have the ability to make wise and appropriate choices.
I just need to remove fear and self-loathing from the equation.
The weekend of the Tough Mudder has finally arrived. I have been meaning to sit down all day and write this. (I’ve been busy!!!!)
So, last night around 10PM I am pulling into Albuquerque, which means it is time to stop by and meet Rebecca. Good time to rest, recharge, and get mauled by her sweetie dog, Luna. (It could be Tuna- but, why would you name a dog Tuna?) This is my first encounter with this group of potential axe- murderers. Turns out, it is totally cool and the fact that we have “known” each other on FB for awhile makes it so much easier. I don’t feel the need to be on my best behavior, I am just myself.
So, after a good long rest… I hit the road again. All the caffeine is making it hard to sit still and drive though. Wait, what are those bright lights in the distance? Oh, a Casino. Hmmmm. Don’t mind if I do… Blackjack is not my friend. $60 later…
Back on the road- (I have been drinking an insane amount of water- I have to stop often.) There is a creepy dude in the car next to me. So, I pull up a space. (There are three rows of parking at this gas station. (It may actually be a truck stop.) Well, now the gas pumps are behind me. I know! I can just do a U-turn. (Hmmm- not one of my brighter ideas.) Poor Liz. I clipped the curb (Why was there a curb in the middle of a parking lot????) Liz is broken. (I called a place- it should not be too much to fix)
Okay- So, now- I love Road Trips. I am jamming along having my own little private car concert- Talking on the phone with the Utah contingent (who are also making the trek overnight.)
Finally, I get to Phoenix. (After the scariest trip through the mountains down I-17.) I learned to drive in Lubbock. (We don’t have all that nonsense.) Start looking for friends. They are at Target. Okay. I will meet you there. (BTW, I pass like 12 Targets on the way to their Target)
When I get there, I am hanging out by the dollar stuff at the front of the store- I hear Sophi! She runs up to me- and says “You look exactly like I knew you looked.” Which is kinda funny, it’s not like this group is pretty much centered around selfies or anything. Rich was there- he and I have a long history of him using voice to text while he is driving all over the midwest. Miranda. It took me a minute. Ahhh.. We watched the Grammy’s “together.”
So, I just realized- I am up here writing this. That is lame. I need to go experience this trip- instead of just writing about it. SO, to be continued…. There may be more trips to Target scheduled.