Yesterday we arrived at home from a six day road trip to Utah. I was reminded instantly by the request for Saturday morning media that we were no longer powered by propane in the Utah desert where the early requests consisted of warm snuggles in the sleeping bag followed by the assistance in building a campfire to escape the morning cold.
Camping for our family takes the good moments from real life and neatly tucks them in to a beautifully wrapped package just begging to be unwrapped, savored, a gift to behold. Of course, there are the hard moments too. These are accentuated by the absence of modern shelter, amenities and extremely tired children who, when presented with the opportunity of being outside with their friends nonstop for days, do not know when to turn it off, sit back and chill. There is always the next adventure to be had, a rock to be scaled, a fire to be built and a campfire story to be performed.
There was that 50 mile and hour wind day when four families were trapped in our pop up except for some of the Dad’s who we thought may have been blown off a desert rim while conquering a must do mountain bike ride. Nik was the exception. He stayed behind and thankfully makes good conversation and the perfect margarita. They got us through – Nik and the margaritas.
Living out of our comfort zone for a few days taps the extremes. It takes the good and bad to their maximum and sometimes the beautifully wrapped package is hurled into the mud. It’s a matter of finding the balance and the place that allows me to accept the snot mixed with dirt topped off with sticky marshmallow.
The place were food tasted better, the fire felt warmer, the wind blew windier and the stars appeared more abundant. Tired is an understatement and when my head hit the pillow it was almost cathartic. Nature was ever present. Coyotes called in the night. The March full moon rising over the La Sal mountains lit up our sky and turned it into something magical. Sometimes I would stop and inhale the moment to make sure that when later arrived it was there right with me. I got to this place a few times and left the snotty marshmallow in the dust along the trail.
The first day of spring highlighted the inevitable changes ahead. Our trip was coming to an end and stress started to churn in my belly. I haven’t heard from the accountant. We are moving house in less than a month. We need a packing schedule. Would my old pets come out of this move unscathed? How are we going to afford to make this house comfortable? Darren inquired a few times on our last day.
What’s wrong? You don’t seem right.
Honestly, I was not in a self aware place and when he first asked I dismissed the question entirely. The second time, I used the excuse that I wasn’t feeling all that great, which I really wasn’t. On the drive home, I thought about my mood and the reentry into life and all the things ahead of us this spring. Why was I stressing? How is it that I can turn good things into ridiculious problems? All these things on the horizon that were stressing me out are actually amazing opportunities – products of this magnificent wave of goodness we are riding at the moment. A new house. A house that for the first time ever we chose without the urgency of simply needing shelter. So. I thought about these good things in my life. I have a trip to Napa to celebrate my littlest sister, Mary Susan, turning 40 and my biggest sister, Mary Sheila, turning 50 and, on the last day, I get to see my amazing friend, Wendi who lives in the area. Then we go camping again with all of the wonderful friends that I will, in a few short weeks, be privileged to call my neighbors. And then we move into the house that we chose, in a giving community, a hop skip and a scooter from the elementary school my kids attend. And, if we can’t afford to furnish it who cares? That’s not what a home is about anyway. It’s about the people and critters that call it home and I hit the jackpot there so life is good and BAM my perspective is different. It’s a start anyway. I am giving up creating problems where there are none for Lent because it is so silly to give up french fries again.
So as Liam asked to pee the sixth time in 3.5 hours on the road, I reminded myself to receive the request gently and I could tell Darren was trying hard too. He is a potty trained three year old boy who has a tiny little bladder. How is this a problem? React with grace. It’s so easy to remember and to forget.
After the first of seven loads of laundry hit the washer and the coolers were cleaned out, we sat down to dinner. Usually we talk about our favorite parts of the day. Last night, we talked about our favorite parts of the trip.
Ella: The giant sand hill and the campfire lit up by tumbleweed. It inspired the kids to dance around like cave people and chant iiiuuugggAAA!
Juliet: Running into her best friend from school and getting to make a purchase at the amazing Rock Shop.
Liam: Campfires and marshmallows
Darren: Hiking up the river in Hunter Canyon and defying death at Corona Arch
Leenie: Waking up and having coffee by the campfire with family and friends and our hike to Corona Arch
As I tucked each child away for the night, I was reminded that one of the best parts of going on an adventure is coming home. Tonight we will go through our dinnertime ritual again and our favorite parts of the day will be less adventurous and more ordinary – a play date, a board game, watching Star Wars with Dad.
I will cherish our stroll along the trial of ordinary over the next few weeks while we prepare for our move. Everyone is going to be ejected out of their comfort zone and it is my job to make sure that this next family adventure goes off without a hitch. Needs will be greater and emotions will run high. Gratitude will be at the center of my prefrontal cortex in hopes of warding off any problem-making creativity. I will remember the desert and that the best part of any adventure is coming home.