For the last four months I have been grounded, in a way. Strickly my fault, you see. There hasn't been anyone forcing me to stay home these past few weeks, rather, it was a sort of self imposed arrest. There is something about travel that liberates the soul, that opens up possibilities, that releases the imagination that I wasn't quite comfortable embracing at the time. I kept putting it off, wondering what the world "out there" held in store for me, yet, at the same time, turned away from it because I was afraid of what I might find.
I finally took my act on the road last week after three false starts. I put off my long overdue trip to Boise for a number of reasons. First it was the mechanics of the car, then it was cash flow and then, finally, weather. But once I road tested my wee little beast up and over and back again from Twisp I felt confindent that the car could handle the miles. Money, well, there never seems to be enough of it even in the best of times so I decided not to let that be an impediment any more. And as for weather, well, I bought chains and that was that.
I figured since I had the time and the skies were clear I would take a lesser traveled path. I took the highway up and over the Cascades by the way of Enumclaw and into Naches via Chinook Pass, driving through windshield high snow drifts on a recently plowed highway. I was happy that my car was not giving me fits, as the phone reception disappeared once I left Mt Rainier National Park. I was happy for the solitude, the sunshine and the massive bag of snacks and tunes I had by my side. I felt self contained, even giddy, knowing that the back of the wagon was filled with loot for my kids and that I would finally be seeing them before the night was out.
What surprised me more was finding that after all the angst I've had about my little house and my community I was glad and happy to be back in Idaho. I fought the notion of moving for so long that when I arrived and got into the groove of living with my children once again that I had to wonder what the heck I was thinking of before. I had to really wonder about about myself and what had held me back for so long...an old stick house, a boxful of memories and a profession that, for better or worse, was just another way to make money.
I found that I was comfortable in Boise, as the place reminded me a lot of where I grew up. As I drove down Eagle highway and on the roads in and out of the subdivions of the Treasure Valley I kept having flashbacks to early days, to old towns like Tustin and Costa Mesa and all the previously unincorporated lands that were once fields and orchards and cattle ranges. As I took the Estranged One around to second hands, as I raced the kids to the movies and school and their friend's homes I kept thinking of the times I had in my youth where my friend's moms and dads would do the same for me and my pals. All around us the bean fields were disappearing and housing tracts were popping up. On the way to and from the beach and school and playdates the orange groves were coming down and malls and eateries were rising. I saw the same thing happening there on the outskirts of Boise and strangely felt at home.
I know that to leave this little house and this sweet community would release me from the self imposed exile I set for myself. I held the line for no one but myself. I came home from a wonderful road trip and lovely Halloween and a ton of good moments to house that was warm, filled with my things and "peopled" by my cat, but not much else. Oh, sure, that and memories, but memories do not warm a bed or make me laugh out loud or keep me busy in a meaningful way.
I came off of that road trip knowing that I work at Helpline because I miss working for people in a meaningful way. I know that I am here in Port Orchard because of an old house and friends and the memory of old loves and those reasons alone. I came off the road to a house that now off the market with the phone ringing off the hook looking for new possibilities to sell it. Now that I am "home" I can see that I took that trip not only to see my children but to help me mark my internal road map. Where I was headed was a mystery before. I know now that my sights are set on Idaho, if only because the dreams I had for this house, for this community, for my profession, are all over and done with.
Later on this week I'll have a new realtor. I keep throwing out applications towards Idaho and sooner or later something will happen there. My children light up my cell phone with calls and messages that I found were, more than anything else, are what really matters.
I discovered, too, after alot of thought, that my chosen profession is really just helping people. I am a glorified customer service rep to the needly and the lost. I am a helper to those with questions and to those with poorly defined answers. I am a man who knows how to find information but more how to set people on a path to a better life. Maybe I can do that for myself for a change.
One thing I found for certain and that is the Treasure Valley area is not too big on hiring librarians. So, from here out, in order to be where my heart needs to be since this place has effectively shut it out, I am going off into the world of customer service and leaving librarianship behind. Twenty five years of doing the same thing is enough for me. Time for something completely different, even if that means reinventing myself in ways that, even two weeks ago, I couldn't begin to imagine.
See there, that's why I didn't take that road trip before. What happened was what I was afraid was going to happen. It was a release of the flood waters behind the dam. Hell, the complete and total destruction of the dam and the life that I had been living. I am ready to be swept away, road or no road, job or no job, map or no map.
I am on my way. On my way to where, I have no idea, but I think that it will be to a place where I can be happy again, even if it's just for a moment, but hopefully, for the rest of my life.