the days are getting bittersweet, and my stomach is spending most of its time in slight turmoil. yup, it’s the leaving thing. happens every time, and every single time i’m caught by surprise. the roots are deeper, the connections are stronger than i ever planned on. as if relationships can be planned, hah! they're a treat, a gift, a lovely beautiful messy thing that makes every day richer and every leaving harder. i wouldn't have it any other way.
we've been on this trip for 154 days, and 152 of them have been spent here in knoxville. never ever thought it would be this long, but my initial thought of 2-3 weeks looks utterly laughable from my current vantage point. expectations ... the death of me, of many relationships, of mindfulness, of joy in the moment. (i know there's a flip side to all that, just not going there right now)
i think it's fair to expect joy and love and happiness on this trip, as long as i also expect pain and growth and delays and arguments and meltdowns and detours, and the occasional real drama. they come intertwined, sometimes within the same split second. that deep breath where you're steadying your mind because your heart just exploded and you're not sure where the pieces are. epiphanies, he-just-died calls, births, i do's, breakups, you name it ... any single moment in which you know everything just shifted, irrevocably, in one direction or another.
i love those moments. yes, all of them. the moments (days, months, even years) that follow? often they're the worst. but in those single fleeting bits of time, every single one of them, i feel incredibly painfully amazingly alive. my heart just took a hit, good or bad, and i KNOW it's there and working and oh so very present.
this doesn't mean i look for those things, or revel in them if they're sad, but i do measure time by them. measure life, measure it's depth and breadth and reality and meaning, and find that no matter what the experience, it leaves its mark, its touchstone, and i value every one of them. they're part of who i am. my collection, whether harvested deliberately, or tossed in without my choice. mine.
i had no idea before knoxville that my heart had holes shaped like Marie, Sam, Carpenter, and Auzlo. like Starbucks every week. like loving Keren even more like a sister than i already did. like watching for Timmo and Natalie walking Piper and Rider every night (and hoping they'd stop). like Mikey passing away in Bobby's arms and my arms not being long enough to hug them both at once, or ease the pain of losing his crazy furry companion of 15 years. of a comfortable answer to the unnammed question "could you live near and work side-by-side with Keren and Bobby at some point in the future?" (that's a yes ...)
there are tracks worn in my heart also, from endless circlings and wanderings and designings and communicatings back and forth and back and forth ... how exactly do we hope to fund this trip? (and how are we going to pay the debts we accidentally dragged along with us?) assuming that the work wherever/however/for-whomever-we-can thing was the heart of it all (whether they could pay or or not), but likely too limiting if we expected it to fund the whole shebang. wanting a bit of steady income, enough to cover our fixed expenses at least, to make it possible to take on jobs wherever, rather than feeling like we had to stick to paying ones.
so the merry-go-round began ... newsletter subscriptions! family-drawing-based art lessons, by e-book and youtube! youtube-only "artLOOSE" videos, documenting all kinds of creative projects and asking for patronage/donations from viewers!
the tracks became messy, convoluted, and daunting. and very very distracting. every single idea fun on some level, or even many levels, but very time consuming on a monthly basis, even once we got them up and running. things that would pull our hearts in so many directions, at least for now, that we couldn't see our way clear to do what was right in front of us. floors that need painting here, decks that need shored up, stuff that needs organized and trimmed and chopped down. FUN things!
and michael and i were holed up writing business plans, trying to learn video editing, struggling with words and assumptions and guesses as to who and how to ask for what, and then guiltily emerging from the think-tank to involve the boys by trying to create logos as a family, or something equally strained or awkward. trying too hard, all of it. not to be confused with working, or the willingness to work, but trying too hard to figure out exactly who our audience is, and what we'll have time to do on the road, and how it will all fit in and around the projects that we're doing for other folks.
the other morning those tracks all became very visible to me, in one big ugly pile, and i felt the weight of them all at once. this was all just backwards. GO. DO. STUFF. NOW. and the way will become a bit clearer. we'll get vaguely in the swing of things, we'll find out how much we can really work creativity in and around what we do, and discover how much time we can spend working before we need to go away and look at nature and monuments and sunsets for a bit. take time alone, to recharge. i strongly suspect that somewhere down the road, a spinoff project or idea that we can sell on the side will surface, and we'll jump on it then. not try to imagine (from keren and bobby's porch) what IT is, and what folks want, and promise to serve it up on a fancy platter once a month. from a dicey laptop, via public wifi, using video and audio from an android phone. not impossible at all, but not smooth sailing either.
i felt a big sigh of relief in my heart after that realization, and the healing of something that had been dividing me. and also a renewed level of queasiness in the "trust and faith" department, as to how the finances will work out. as to the likelihood that we'll be asking directly for help sometimes, from humanity at large. for donations for our living expenses, or for supplies for projects ... which i should have done already because we're leaving several things undone here, because the money isn't available right now for deck lumber and flooring and stuff like that.
that said, there's great fun to be had in doing things with free/minimal supplies (cool dining room floor, yes?!) but it often requires a lot more time, thought, and planning than it would if the materials were available. it does inspire creativity though! i'd dearly love to get to a point where we had a separate Supplies Fund that could be tapped into when we find a need, and have the time and resources, but no money for the materials. we've talked a lot about putting out a call for sponsorship when we find a project that needs it, but the timing is an issue. not wanting to run a kickstarter campaign for something that needs to start tomorrow, or preferably today. (the wheels are turning fast, and you might be hearing more on that in the next day or two ... and thoughts welcome!)
i might as well say too that we're currently about 700 short on what we need to get out of here next week, to cover tax and registration on the trailer and a couple smaller bills. hoping this weekend's jaunt to Market Square will net Michael more than last weekend's portrait drawing session, which should help somewhat. (he's working on a blog post all about drawing in the square, btw)
as i wrap this up, Fynn is off spending his last hour or two with his new BFF, who leaves tomorrow early, and won't be back until after we pull out next week. he is going to need some tlc for the next few days i think, as well as access to my phone more often than in the past. i have some goodbyes to say too, which i don't want to. i never expected the richness of the connections we've made here, and have to say it's a very awesome pile of gifts to come from our very first stop, and truly worth every minute we've spent here. it helps give me courage to step out and move on again, and to hope that we're leaving behind a bit of ourselves in return for what we've gained.