Monday, August 5, 2013

On taking the plunge

When you decide you are to have an adventure, when you're tired of feeling boxed in by the same old grow-up-and-stay-put life, this is what you do. You find a place on the cliff where the water below is deep, deep, deep. (Maybe nudge a friend to go first.) Then you fix your eyes on the far out spot in the sky, perhaps on the cloud that looks like Mary Poppins' umbrella. Then you back up, give yourself room for a running start. Then you run, leap, jump feet first, plug your nose, point your toes, scream to high heaven.

You can do it any number of ways. The key is to stop deliberating on the edge. The key is to jump.

We jumped, and I'm not a bit sorry. But there are still spots where I'm raw, where it stings to the touch. There are times, like on a Sunday afternoon, when I sit without a chair, trying to figure out how to undo the Amazon order that shipped 4000 miles in the wrong direction, times when I want for everything not to feel like such an effort, when I'd like to trade all this adventure crap for a nice long nap on a real mattress.

We've hit some snags and hurdles. It will all be okay, and there will come a time when I don't feel overwhelmed and alone. But it's going to take a good deal of swimming toward the shore and a healthy dose of metaphoric aloe vera.


There's a reason they call it Big Sky Country. Can you guess?
As for the actual journey to Alaska (the part of the jump where we flail our arms and make the crazy flared-nostrils face), I believe I left off somewhere around Yellowstone, yes?

Well, the following day we drove parallel to the ever gorgeous Glacier National Park before crossing into Canada. Thankfully my son waited to sing his improvised lyrics to Oh Canada until after the border agent let us pass.

We stopped in Calgary that night, staying at the hotel with the much anticipated "spinny slide" and pool.  Here's the honest truth. When you're a kid, hotel pools are the most awesome thing ever of all time in the history of the universe. And then here's the other honest truth--that when you're a grown-up, you just freakin' want to go to sleep. Of course, when you're a grown up, you tend to concern yourself more with putting smiles on your children's face than with your own need for slumber. So we swam until way past bedtime.

Pictured above: My favorite part of the leg from Montana to Calgary. Not pictured: The kids favorite part, aka the pool
We left Calgary the next morning with high hopes for another low mileage day, planning to take our time driving from Banff to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, a 280 kilometer trip touted as one of the world's most scenic drives.

I had already prepped the kids that there would be no screen time allowed on this particular leg of the journey, only gawking at glaciers and oohing/ahhing at the mountain views. But then it rained, poured really, almost the whole way to Jasper. The mountains and glaciers hid behind the fog and clouds, and every which way you looked? That's right, gray.

There was quite a bit more whining and ingratitude than I'm going to admit to on the interwebs (and the kids were a little ungrateful as well), but I stuck to my guns on the no-screen time decree. Instead, we began listening to the Anne of Green Gables audiobook while I craned my neck trying to catch a glimpse of something beautiful.

I had almost resigned myself to the "depths of despair" and declared our day "a perfect graveyard of buried hopes" when the rain finally began to subside. Then the sun threw a few darts into the clouds, and bam, bullseye. We had our view.
Oh, Marilla, I couldn't even imagine a place so glorious, could you?

Stopped for construction, the rearview mirror view, leaving the rain behind.
I've rambled well beyond what a reasonable person would want to read, so I'll save our stories and pictures of Jasper for the next post. 

But can we go back to the jumping just for a minute? When I started to write this (about 500 hours ago), I was weary and melancholy and dreading the unpacking of All The Things, not feeling nearly strong enough to navigate the 4000 mile leap we just made. But writing here, the words become strokes that get me back to shore. They take me back to the solid ground where I can look up at the cliff, now bending small against the sky, and to be ever so glad that I took the plunge.

1 comment:

  1. Writing is weird that way, isn't it? It's a draining and a strengthening, a pouring out to discover you are full again, like the widow's jar of oil.

    For what it's worth, I'm proud of you for having jumped. And for sticking to your no screens rule in the midst of the gray. It's hard to say which requires more courage.