As of last Sunday we have officially been in California for six weeks. I can hardly believe the way time has flown, though honestly 3-4 of those weeks I spent searching for a job and unsettled by the amount of free time I had on my hands, so life has only just begun to get busy. While this is a bit delayed report of our trip, I wasn't even sure I was going to give one at all, so I'm patting myself on the back about this one.
As some of you may or may not know, my husband is the best writer between the two of us. I thought it would be really cool to get a few of his words on here in this space that is so me. Our writing styles are extremely different, but our lives are one, and in dwelling on our past trip it seemed fitting to pair some of our words together. Below is his account, followed by mine. John Louis' words are in italics.
There’s this phenomena that takes hold over me that I’ve begun to notice in the last year or so. If there is a date on the calendar-- a friend’s wedding, a week long trip, or your friendly neighborhood civic jury duty-- there is a hidden anxiousness that I’m only made keenly aware of by that date slapping me in the face with its impend. Day off the wedding, trip, or jury duty I find myself remembering all the times I was looking to this date. Remembering when it was a month away, a week away, a day away. Remembering when I was asleep last night thinking of my day full of wedding, trip, or jury duty. There now exists two epochs: Before Date and After Date. Before Wedding, Before Trip, Before Jury Duty.
So the months, weeks, and final sleeps until Lottie and I drove across the country piled on as we were in the car leaving our snow-crusted friends at the coffee shop they own that had become a home to us. With wife, dog, and worldly possessions en tote, I realized that this is what I had been anxious for. All the planning, fretting, laughing, job-quitting had been for this. This is what we were after and we are now doing it.
The morning we left New York, I got up around 5am (we'd planned to set out around 8) because I could hear my mom downstairs and could no longer be a sleeping person in such an insane moment of our life. We sat on the small blue couch in the kitchen together, her hazelnut coffee steaming in her mug. I could barely speak to her in that moment, even though she and I speak a non-verbal language too, and she took my hands in hers. "You and I, we have to be brave." I will never forget how physically difficult it was to get in our car and drive away.
We took six days to drive from NY to CA. Technically if you're a psycho with very few human needs, I think you can drive to California from New York in like three days. That being said, we chose the route of idiots (I'm taking the blame here) and drove all the flip over what John would sarcastically call God's green earth, taking roughly "the northern route" that people will elusively refer to upon asking you about your trip. Not sure when we'd have another chance to truly experience the entire country's landscape, and craving some views of the northwest (again this is a classic Lottie decision, not so much my husband's), we wrote out an itinerary and set out to see a bunch of stuff and people. This is actually a goal with respectable intentions, but having planned for mostly 10 hours days, with a couple 12-13 hours ones, IN FEBRUARY, IN WYOMING FOREVER, we were thrust with a very different perspective come a few hours into Wyoming. The place is crazy (40+ mile an hour winds across the entire state) and we drove the last few hours (the most mountainous ones) in the dark. It's literally taken me these six weeks to feel like I can casually report about it on the internet, just to give you an idea of how out of my mind I was after finally getting to Jackson Hole at 11pm. I could probably be dramatic about it for 17 more paragraphs, but the beautiful truth is I can honestly look back with appreciation for what we experienced. At almost every stop, we would calculate how long it would be to just throw the rest of our trip out the window and head to LA. We were exhausted and scared. We pushed on though, and every time we finally arrived to our next destination (all homes of generous, kind friends with the exception of Jackson, WY) we were immediately built back up again. The company was extremely deep and meaningful for us, and we left every morning completely brand new. I was mentally exhausted and could barely think about it, but I knew that something amazing was happening.
The wisdom of a commercial of my youth droning “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” loops on a track in my brain. You can plan for a wedding, a trip, a day of jury duty. You can plan a drive across the country. But there is no way to plan (in my estimation) for feeling those 3,000 some-odd miles directly beneath you. To be in the mountains, to be in the valleys, to know how frightening the expanse of both those places actually are. To make your house in California “Home” in your GPS, and still mourn sending your wife “home” for a week. If the adage “home is where the heart is” can bleed any light through the veneer of cliche, then my home truly lies in Syracuse and Chicago and Lincoln and Spokane and Los Angeles.
It’s easy to view the heart as a finite object that can only spread across so much space. That it would be better to leave it in one spot and do all it’s loving, never to be stretched or compromised. This is no longer my view of the heart. The human heart doesn’t add and subtract love. The human heart is multiplicative. Love shared between hearts increases your share of homes in the universe. I spent a week exploring my home and seeing my family across these states. We are in this Epoch called After Trip in our home the size of a country and we can accomplish anything.
*PS: Stay tuned for a photography project coming soon to Porridge and Pine, dedicated to the sea.