This was the first weekend where I was completely out of the house. I worked late Thursday, had Friday off, worked late Saturday and early Sunday and then met my kids in the morning for school on Monday. It was painful not seeing my girls all weekend. I was worried they felt abandoned. I don’t like to bring up the separation or divorce up to them because I know it makes them sad but this is reality now. Papa doesn’t want Mama around because it hurts too much so Mama has to go elsewhere on the weekends. Now I am working on a plan where I can take them out regularly for swimming or something so we can do things together and Papa can have his own alone time for whatever. Just need to get the funds and the plan for it first.
So what did I do on my glorious but painful weekend of freedom?
I got lost. Again. Or rather, I continued down the road I got lost on previously. Spreading my baby baka Nomad wings and being all self-sufficient and stuff.
As I sat in my truck after the Ex came home, I felt the vastness of freedom closing in around me like water rushing into hole. I could go anywhere. Do anything. I had a full tank of gas (thanks mama!) and an endless list of possibilities that didn’t include the internet, snacking on junk food, arguing, or cleaning. I could go to Barnes and Nobles or the library and read. I could go for a walk on the pier. I could go thrift store shopping and get an ice cream for dinner if I wanted. I could go to sleep early! Whoaaaa!
But none of these things sounded appealing. What I did want, however, was silence. Peace. No cars. No people. I knew I should not be driving too far and conserving my gas because pay day isn’t near. I had to be mindful of my budget. So I decided to retrace my steps from the day I got lost with my kids (read the post HERE). Not too far away and I knew the way back in the dark if I got caught up. I did offer to share the trip with my little sister but she ignored me and so I went alone.
I rolled down the windows. All of them; even my sun roof window. Probably for the first time ever since I got the truck. I picked a playlist on my iPod and set it to a moderate volume. And I drove. Thoughts came floating in to distract me and I gently pushed them out again. I paid attention to the way my arms moved the steering wheel around the curves of the road and the cramp forming in my hip. The squeak of my flip flop on the pedal. The smell of the sage on the wind.
It’d been a long time since I’ve had my thoughts to myself. It was a little odd not to have to worry stuff. I was always on guard for the next argument by phone or in person. I was primed for stress every time my phone went off, living in fear for the next disaster. Mile by mile I felt my brain unclench and my lips stretched into a gentle smile. Maybe this is what they meant by “stress management”. This was nice. Reminded me of drives with mom as a kid going camping in the mountains. We probably even took this very road and some part of my brain was triggered the childhood joy.
My thoughts snapped into focus when I blew right passed my turn out by the lake. So much for no stress. OH CRAP. WHERE I AM GOING? WHERE DOES THIS ROAD LEAD? I don’t have any money if I run out of gas!
Ok….ok….calm down. We’ll just find a place to turn around. It’s okay! It’s one road, two lanes. Can’t get lost. Okay…except there were no more turn outs. And there was a cliff side to my right and double yellow lines to my left. And people behind me that clearly knew where they were going and are riding up on my ass. The road went down hill. My truck is heavy and without my foot even being on the gas pedal I was going 45 around turns I was not familiar with at all. I had both hands gripping the steering wheel and I was thinking “Slow down, calm down” like a broken record in my head.
Look for a sign. Where are you? Where are you going? There’s a turn out! Let these people pass, take a breath, get a drink and turn around. I can’t turn. I can’t see around the curves. Someone could smash into me. OH MY GOD.
Suddenly freedom was pulling me inexorably forward around scary ass hair pin turns toward a place I had never been in my life. #VANLIFE??!?!!!???
I nearly passed out from light-headedness when I finally saw a city limit sign and then almost cried real tears when I saw that the half hour drive ate up a quarter of a tank of gas. HOLY CRAP. Okay, keep going. Keep going. You’re fine. There’s only one way back. Literally one road. Just find a spot to turn around.
I did eventually find a large enough turn out and a straight piece of road that would afford me a decently fast turn around without fear of a crash. But then through the open windows, I smelled the ocean. What the hell? I was going through mountains! How do mountains spit me out near an ocean? Now curiosity out weighted the panic and I continued driving. Not even 5 minutes later there was a little parking lot and a full expanse view of the coast line. I turned into it. Here’s what I found:
It was beautiful. Exactly what I was looking for when I set out that day to find peace. I didn’t bring my iPod or my purse or even a book (SHOCKING!). I only carried my keys and my phone. I called Owen for a little while and let the happiness his voice brought me well up inside. I filled my lungs with salty sea breeze and softly pungent herb smells. I took a sage leaf and tucked it inside the pocket of my phone as a memento. The trail I took was networked with little path ways across a field and I had fun choosing left, right or forward. Metaphor for life eh?
Eventually the little trails converged into one large pathway so I followed it from one one end to the other. Probably two miles or so. There were train tracks right next to me and one went by while I was standing not even twenty feet away. Brought back memories. (I lived in front of train tracks for 14 years.) I took pictures of plants along the path so I could play the “WHAT’S THAT PLANT?!” game with Owen (he loves plants and coastal ones are fascinating to him since he’s never been to California).
When the lure of football took him away from the conversation I just walked, letting the sounds of nature and the feel of the sun on my skin melt over me and soothe my ruffled feathers. I loved up some friendly dogs and found an amazing memorial along a cliff side.
Someone was loved very much.
One end of the path led me to a large park where along the edge of the field, there were bushes. And about a dozen fluffy bunnies and Squirrels. They were out enjoying the grass and the coolness of evening setting in. I’d never seen so many in one place! I sat on the field and watched them because I could. I had that kind of time and no kids or friends saying “I’m hot/ bored/ tired/ hungry/ need to pee”.
Once I’d had enough of nature I made my way back and at the end of the trail I finally discovered where I was.
And as it turned out I came back just in time. There were tow trucks pulling into the parking lot as I climbed into my truck. The park closed half an hour after sunset (which that day was at 7:30). It was 6:45 but they looked ready to jump the gun. PHEW!
The ride back through the mountain was no less scary for me, even having driven it two hours before. It was getting dark and I had more cars behind me pressuring me to go faster or move. I moved. It scared the heebie jeebies out of me puling over because a lot of the time there was no guard rail between me and a thousand foot cliff. But not having head lights and impatient drivers glare at me through my rear view mirror was worth the small risk. I just didn’t look and I prayed a lot.
When I got to my little turn out that over-looked the lake I was a jellied pile of grateful baka Jessie. I took a moment to rest and closed my eyes. It had gotten chilly being in the wind tunnel the lake and the mountains created so I made my dinner inside the truck. My first Gypsy Nomad dinner!
Classic right? And doubly delicious! I rolled down a window and ate and watched the moon come out. The clouds around it turned pink and the mists rolled in like some scene off a Scotland postcard.
I really wanted to stay there for the night and wake up to an amazing sun rise but I had a feeling the Po-Po would be cruising along soon to shoo me away. Bummer. So I came back down the mountain (got lost AGAIN on a twisty unfamiliar road) and popped out in between cities at a little RV/VanLife stretch of road. It looked safe enough and there were large gaps between trucks that I could sneak into.
Well. Don’t mind if I do!
I turned my bed down (literally just unfolded it) and washed my filthy feet with a baby wipe before crawling in the back and calling Owen again before bed. It was some of the bed sleep I’d gotten in a while. I woke up to the sight of a light blue sky and trees in my back window. I took my time getting out of bed, enjoying the slow warmth of the sun baking the air in my truck and munching a granola bar as I watched the sky turn into morning blue.
It seemed like an ordinary day but for me, it was a day worth writing about. My true first day of choosing my path and following it, baka Gypsy Nomad style. And I didn’t get dead which was a plus! This day, subtle as it was, gave me a boost of confidence that, yeah, maybe this really was the right decision and maybe I can find peace after blowing up my life.
Just what I needed.