It might have been the odd dinner we had last night that had me up this morning at 4 a.m., pacing the house in the predawn darkness. Eleanor was inspired by a few items she found at the grocery, and she was having a green vegetable panic, so dinner was a very delicious stir-fry with side dishes of roasted green beans, seaweed salad, and edamame, with spears of pineapple and leftover birthday cake for dessert. A strange combination, but all things we love and so we all ate too much of it and went to bed feeling like we might have made a big mistake.
Certainly that’s how it felt at 4 a.m., when I reached the climax of a strange dream (I was being arrested at a checkpoint for a crime I did not commit, and telling the cops in the interrogation room, “If you hadn’t let the media get into a frenzy about capturing me, and you had simply called me, I would have come in to talk to you without all this drama,”) — and I awoke rather suddenly with a belly that felt full of clay. I had the distinct message from my gastrointestinal tract that something wicked this way comes, and that I would be in for a very long and unpleasant day. This is how I came to find myself pacing the house in the dark and making that prayer common to death-row inmates and those who have been food-poisoned, to be struck down cleanly and not made to suffer too long.
But in fact it was only a minor episode and within a few minutes I was able to get back in bed — just before the eastern sunrise would begin to flood our bedroom, at this time of year — and begin a completely different and yet equally bizarre dream. So perhaps the cause of my unease is not the combination of Japanes and Hawaiian cuisine followed by extensive butter-cream frosting, but rather that I’ve finally gotten what I have been wishing for: lots of complications to upset my otherwise very mundane suburban life.
You see, this winter in Tucson was a sort of experiment. I have mentioned recently that this is the longest stay we’ve had anywhere since early 2003. We came back to Arizona last October planning to mostly stay put and taste the unfamiliar flavor of suburban life for at least five months. I thought this would be an interesting novelty, but in fact there’s only so much of the routine that I can stand, and even with the diversions available in a city this size, life outside the Airstream has become extraordinarily dull.
I confessed this to Eleanor last week — not that it was a huge revelation for her — and she added the fact that Emma has also been wishing to get back on the road, and jealous of the two trips I’ve taken without her (Palm Springs, and my recent Texas adventure). Eleanor can operate under almost any circumstances, so she is not as cabin-fevered as the rest of us, but certainly would like to see more, do more, live more as the old Airstream slogan goes.
The complications I allude to are several. First, our plans are set for summer with a ridiculously complex program of flying and driving back-and-forth across the country, with stops all over the place and ambitious destinations in mind. We will be everywhere, starting with our departure from Arizona about May 19, through our return sometime in September or October. No simple linear plan for us — we have planned zig-zag destinations in something like 14 states and two or three countries. It will be planes, trains, and automobiles all summer, or more accurately in our case, Airstreams, tents, houses and hotels. Sometimes all three of us will be together, sometimes just Eleanor and I, and for a large part of the summer we will find ourselves in different places & operating independently. It all seemed to make sense when we planned it.
The second complication is that I have been looking for an interesting project to focus on while I’m alone, and I’ve found several. Each could easily consume the entire summer, so logically I should have picked just one. But somehow I’ve managed to obligate myself to two highly demanding tasks, with little chance of escape or parole, plus the aforementioned ambitious travel plan, plus numerous smaller projects. And I haven’t yet found enough editorial staff to completely relieve me of the Airstream Life magazine Editor’s job, so I still have that little task to complete as well.
Ah, but it’s all good, as my friend Adam will say. I’m no longer bored with suburban life. Now I’m slightly terrorized by the prospect of going out in the Airstream for a month and trying to get all things done on a slowish cellular Internet connection while driving 2,000 miles to Alumapalooza, and then to Toronto, and then Vermont for a week, and then all the way back to Texas where I’ll pick up the Caravel, and proceed back to home base — and then to California.
Later in the summer, I’ll have to do the round trip to Vermont again. I have no one to blame for this craziness but myself. It’s my curse; I’d rather be dashing madly across the country than idling. At least, as I go I will have the chance to look up dear friends all over the country, all of whom inspire me. And when the idling moments happen, I will relish them. They will be few and precious. That’s the way I like them.
This is possibly the key to why we did so well in three years of full-time travel. It’s much nicer to appreciate the time off when you’ve been busy and stimulated by changing scenery. This summer is another experiment in the making, to see if we can find the magic formula of work and play that makes it all balance in our minds … and in my stomach.