Two Months on the Road

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It’s official. We’ve been traveling for two months.

For two months, we’ve been living in an RV, moving from town to town, making our way up the East Coast of the United States. For two months, we’ve shared a small living space, a space where we sleep, eat, work, and play together. A space that today, I am leaving behind as I head off to San Diego for BlogHer, where I’ll be speaking on a panel and presenting as a member of the Community Keynote (Holy crap!) – and I have to admit I am a little excited to be seeing a new set of faces for a few days. When I get back on Monday, we’ll move our little space over to Liberty Harbor, a ferry ride away from New York City, where we will sleep in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty for two weeks – I am even more excited about that.

So, what has it been like to live on the road for two months?

It has not always been easy.

This month reality caught up with us. There was stress, there were meltdowns, there were a few cries of “what the hell were we thinking?” I felt foolish, afraid, overwhelmed, and in desperate need of a long walk alone. But we made it through.

In the getting through, we got to know each other better. We proved to our kids that we are in this together. We became a little more patient and a little less afraid of being wrong. We held on a little tighter and learned how to let go a little more easily. We survived.

It has not always been hard.

Although the second month was filled with more reality than the first, the flush of wonder has not worn off. This country is amazing. The people and places we’ve encountered have left permanent marks on our lives. I am falling more and more in love with America with every mile, and my faith in humanity as a whole can never again be lost. No place nor person we’ve met has been perfect, but there has been more good than bad in both.

What have I learned?

We could probably write a book about what we’ve learned about the Civil War – at the very least, a magazine article. Surprisingly, the more I have learned about the Southern past, the more I feel I understand modern America. That has been a startling journey for this Midwestern girl.

I’ve learned that my daughter has the biggest heart in the whole world. Her empathy for the homeless and down-trodden we’ve encountered has been awe inspiring. She’s asked me questions I don’t know how to answer, like why can’t we give that woman on the church steps a home? I’ve watched her give away her allowance to strangers on the street and listened to her worry about those strangers for days after we’ve moved on to a new town.

I’ve learned that my son actually does care what I think and, more specifically, how I feel. This cynical, logical, linear-thinking child puts his arms around me when I’m scared and squeezes my hand when I am sad. And he knows which is which without me saying a word. He is not concerned with taking on the problems of the world, but he is determined to take care of his family, no matter how many times he is told not to boss his sister around. It’s touching to watch this pre-teen become more aware of the people with whom he shares this small space.

I’ve learned that we still have a long way to go towards figuring out what freedom looks like for us. Our house is sold (YAY!), our responsibilities have been dramatically reduced, and yet I still spend the majority of my days thinking about my obligations. I hope that the next few months bring more insight. But regardless of what the next several months bring, or where the next several hundred miles take us, there is one truth at which I have already arrived:

It has been worth it.

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