Saturday, July 20, 2013

A tribute to Dave Matthews Band

At some point during a Dave Matthews concert you get the feeling of  I don't want this to end. The feeling is sheer joy masked as dread. Only those people who love the band (or any other musician) with the same intensity understand that. But it's factual. I've realized that these concert weekends have become my very favorite days of the year. Yes, there are other amazing days in my life. There are birthdays and Christmas mornings and unplanned spontaneous wonderful days that become one of life's best. But overall, the sheer bliss, excitement, giddiness I feel at the DMB shows each year...they are my favorite.

What started as a fun concert to attend of a band whose music I really enjoyed, has become a spiritual experience. It's silly; I know. I'm an easy target for mockery. It's just a band, for God's sake. It's a concert. Why the importance? Because it makes me feel wholly alive. It makes me feel like I'm present, living, feeling Life. I'm surrounded by other people who feel, either to a lesser or even greater degree, the same power of a great setlist or a song that's rarely played live.

And then there are the lyrics. I'm more moved
by the words of a song than the melody--always--not just with this band, but with any musician. And Dave Matthews's words are poetry...and therapy. His lines make me feel understood. Yes, I am aware that a statement like that makes me sound like a teenager filled with angst talking about Nirvana in the 90s. But let's face it: life gets harder as you get older. Real Shit starts happening. And if you happen to have a head as intense and noisy as I do, then sometimes you need someone else to put into words what you're feeling or have felt or are afraid of admitting you feel.

"Celebrate we will for life is short but sweet for certain."

Thanks, Dave, for making it that much sweeter.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Breakfast for one in the campground

I am sitting in our campground, waiting for my family to wake up. I just went for a run on the beach. (Helps to offset the beer.) In spite of the fact that there are several families surrounding us, all I hear is the steady hum of the RV air conditioning, some kind of cricket-thing chirping, and one bird whose song sounds like a repetitive "ray-kee, ray-kee."

My run this morning was sensational. The ocean was a greenish mint, and transparent. The sand here is powdery white--like confectioner's sugar--nothing like the sand at home. Although I came across a few people further on down near the condos, our area belongs to a state park, and it's nearly deserted this early.

It was really the only time I've woken up early during this trip, gone off on my own for some down time. Not because I couldn't have; Hubby kept suggesting it. But it just didn't lend itself. For the first three stops, we were busy. There was so much to do, and new things to see (and endless pouring rains in those damned mountains), and I didn't want to miss anything...wanted to be with the kids and Hubby and do stuff and see stuff. And, I was tired. I wanted to sleep in. There were lots of late nights having too much wine or beer, either crab-hunting with the kids or having Grown Up Time out by the fire after they'd gone to bed.

I sit here now, outside my Little-Engine-That-Could-Camper, and I am content.


Absolutely and completely calm. Something I rarely am. Considering that I've decided to start therapy again when I return home (and yoga and meditating) just to help find a way to calm my mind more, I sit here and am in amazement of the feeling. It's the beach, the sun, the blue skies, the early morning solo run, the cup of coffee, the feeling of freedom.

That's what this little clunker of a mobile home has given us: a feeling of freedom.

It's ironic how big the fight was when Hubby first proposed we buy an old RV. We don't fight often, and when we do, it's not usually major blow-outs, and never, ever over big decisions. But that one fight--I remember he had found "the perfect RV" (which wasn't even the one we got) on ebay--that fight was a doozy. "That is silly and unnecessary and ridiculous and irresponsible," I had said, with absolute certainty.

And then, after many conversations in which he reminded me how much I liked camping and how much more affordable it would be than flying anywhere, and, probably most importantly, seeing a picture of RVs on the beaches...I caved. I jumped on the bandwagon full-blown. And the night before we were going to buy it, I was the one who had to remind Hubby why it was a good idea.

And now here we are, a couple of years later, and getting ready to put it up for sale when we return home. Not because it was a bad idea--quite the opposite. But because this particular one was a great starter, but Good God, we'd like one that doesn't require prayers before starting any portion of it. And because we have travel plans over the next couple of years that don't include camping.

And as excited as I am about these plans and about getting a newer RV later on, I am so damned melancholy about parting with this one. I have learned a lot about myself in this tin can. I have made some of the best memories with my family in it. I have seen new places I didn't think I'd ever visit. And to think it all started out with one of' Hubby's Dreams and A Huge Fight. So there you go...another lesson: be open, because after all, life is nothing if not an adventure.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Life Lessons Learned in an RV

For the last week, I have had no clue what day it is. I mean, not even a vague notion as to whether it was…say…Monday or Thursday. I didn’t even realize when June turned to July.
Do you know how absolutely and completely freeing that can be?

Eight days ago, we packed up our 22-year-old RV with our 2 kids, lots of anticipation, and a few prayers, and headed out for our longest road trip yet. The itinerary included 6 stops along the way, putting us in four states in a little less than 3 weeks.
Being on the road and going from place to place,  worrying only about spending time with your family, playing on the beach, and finding a good local place to eat have a way of making you lose your bearings a bit. I was amazed by the realization that I had, literally, lost all sense of time.  I was completely and totally disconnected.

For someone who usually adheres to an extremely tight, self-imposed schedule, it is liberating to not know what day it is-- and most importantly, not care.
I think I have decided that this is my favorite part of owning our old little beat-up RV.

The longest I have ever been away from home is 11 days. This trip is scheduled to last 19. I say “scheduled,” because when you are traveling this many miles in a motor home that is this old, you just never know for sure. Take the first day, for example: we left Miami mid-morning in order to make it to Cocoa Beach, Florida so we could spend the day with our friend who lives there. Instead, we spent about 4 hours dealing with a suddenly-not-working-in-spite-of-being-serviced-generator. We made it to our friend’s house barely in time for dinner.  And, take the second day, too, for example: we left our friend’s house at 6 a.m. in order to make it to Savannah, Georgia by lunchtime. Instead, we spent 9 hours in a parking lot with a busted water pump and shredded something-or-other belts. We skipped Savannah and made it to Charleston, South Carolina with barely enough time to check in to our campground and go to sleep.
For someone as superstitious as myself, I would think that maybe the darned little guardian angel thingy that Hubby brought along might not be as guardian-like as he’d hoped. And for someone as mathematically-inclined as himself, he would think that, statistically, we should be good for the rest of the trip. (Just in case, we have now taken to saying a prayer out loud when we turn on the generator. It started out as a simple “Please, God, let the generator start” in unison, but then the boys turned it into “Please, God, let the generator fart,” and that seems to be working, so we’re going with it. And just in case, I have now taken to saying a prayer--silently as to not further stress Hubby--whenever he starts the engine. We are very religious these days, apparently.)
And, I have to say, as much as I have hated (I can’t italicize and bold and underline that enough) the calling-the-RV-version-of-AAA moments, I think they may have contributed (albeit painfully) to my sense of freedom.

When you are this controlling in your own head, it is almost a relief to realize that you really have very little control over situations. And, at the risk of sounding corny and cliché, it is a little empowering to realize that you can, however, control your reactions to situations.
When the generator broke down not an hour into our trip, I couldn’t will it to work again. I could, however, make jokes, play with the kids, paint my nails, and declare that surely this mishap would guarantee that The Thing That Could Go Wrong With The RV has already happened. And when the engine suddenly started to make ominous noises and we were sitting on the side of the expressway only 30 minutes away from our destination, I had no other choice but to admit that crying wasn’t going to replace the damned water pump or any of the belts its spontaneous combustion shredded. In fact, it would have only made the situation worse (obvious but poignant!)

For a few hours there, we had no idea how bad it was going to be: was this even repairable (one guy told us they didn’t even make those replacement parts anymore)? Would we be able to find a hotel if we needed one (the twelve we called in Savannah were booked solid)? Would we have to explain to our boys that, after a year of planning this trip, we might have to go home after the first day (and how the hell were we going to get home if we did)?  I had absolutely no other choice but to go with the flow, and worry only about the moment at hand—two things at which I am notoriously bad.
I’m realizing these little trips are not only giving us, as a family, an opportunity to bond and play and laugh and be away from everything, but it’s also giving me an opportunity to practice some of the things I really want to be better at in life. And if it just so happens that I can learn these lessons as I watch my little ones squeal with glee while they chase down crabs, or while I’m  enjoying  an ice cold beer on a beach in the Outer Banks, then all the better.

Here’s to not knowing what day of the week it is…Cheers.