This is our Conestoga Wagon. We are pioneers. We are going boldly forth, traveling west into the relatively unknown, to make our own way, to create our own reality, to stick it to the man, if you will, and be real people, true to ourselves and our passions.
Some have said we're out of our minds. Some think we're going to break down, and if that happens, the authorities will come take the kid. Because yeah, of course, every time a car carrying children breaks down on a road trip, it is considered neglect, and the kids are confiscated. Sheesh. Gimme a big ol' break.
'But how will you make money?!'
Have you SEEN the art my husband can make?! Have you seen the art I can make?! Apparently not... But we can make some sweet art, and we can sell it at art fairs, and music festivals, allowing us to travel in the summer, and hunker, making art, in the winter. Also, did you know that they pay people to ride their bikes along with bicycle tours to make repairs to the bikes of other riders? Because my husband can do that with his eyes closed. He does need both hands, or I'd say with one hand tied behind his back. His toes are pretty nimble though, so maybe...
'But that's delusional! You're not in your 20s! It's a midlife crisis! You need a reality check!'
We're not delusional. We wanted to do this in our 20s. We were scared to take the leap. All the messaging from our families and society assured us that we were delusional, and if we wanted to support our little family, we needed to straighten up and fly right. So we went to college, and got educated, and got a whopping debt. That was our most salient take-away from college. Our debt. A degree is not a guarantee, folks, of money, or happiness, or anything like that.
So, if a kid in their 20s wants to do something like this, you tell them they're delusional, they need to grow up and get real. If a couple of 45 and 50 want to do this, you tell them they're not kids, they're having midlife crises, and they need to grow up and get real. What could be more real?!
'You won't have room for ANYTHING!!!'
Exactly. We as a family, and we as a society, have too. much. stuff. I am sick to death of stuff... needing stuff, wanting stuff, storing stuff, having stuff get covered in pet hair, and my hair, and actually losing my glasses to a tribble the size of Rhode Island for a freaking month. The less shit I have, the less shit I have to maintain, the more space I have in my head and my heart for the people I love. The more time I have to play my dulcimer, or draw with Connor, or go for walks, just because.
'But what if this?! What if that?!'
Well, we'll deal with it if it happens, as we've dealt with everything else that the universe has thrown our way for the last 23 years that we've been together. We have faced down some mighty demons, let me tell you. We've been hanging out for almost 30 years. This will be easy. This will be healthy. This will be good.
'But you have to have a job...'
Why? Who says? We can be creative and crafty, just like all those writers and photographers and artists that are on your list of 'admired people'. We may not make much money, but hell! We don't make much money now!
Connor can go to school. Or not. If it doesn't work for him, he'll not go. We're perfectly capable of facilitating some high-quality learning, if maybe not in the most conventional manner. And, having taught college for several years, let me assure you all that going to school in no way assures that a young adult has the ability to do research, to write, to actually think. Which is sort of a prerequisite for learning.
Jim watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a couple weeks ago. One line summed it all up.
"Well, we tried going straight. Now what?"
Yup. We tried going straight. Now what indeed. Going straight didn't work, hasn't worked, isn't going to work. We are not straight. We are creative and analytical, we are unconventional. We are not happy trying to be straight. Jim is not happy when he's not making beautiful things. He hasn't made something to completion in years. He needs to cut glass with Miles Davis playing loud. He needs to play guitar. He needs to go stand in a beautiful river with a fly rod, whether or not he catches anything, or keeps anything he catches. I need to sit in front of a wood stove and knit. I need to cook, and preserve, and maybe even have bees and/or chickens. I need to sew, and set Connor loose with glue and sticks and pine cones. Connor needs to get muddy, turning over rocks, looking for frogs and bugs, he needs to learn how to skip rocks and build forts.
And really, isn't this the true American Dream folks? Self sufficiency? Making your way, making your life, using your own two hands? A friend posted a Ben Harper song , My Own Two Hands, a week or so ago, asking her readers what we would do with OUR own two hands. Well, here's my answer... I'll make my own American Dream, I'll make my own life, an authentic life for my little family, and I'll do it with my own two hands. And Jim's own two hands. And Connor's own two hands, because you know what? Those little hands are mighty capable too. They can knead bread, they can draw, they can give some killer hugs. We will build a life, a true American Dream, not this material success bullshit that is empty and hollow and spirit-killing. We will build the life WE dream, the life we choose, not the life that somebody somewhere hands us the blueprint for and says, "This is how it is done. This is what you 'need', these are the things you 'want', this is how reality looks."
Reality is not a singular noun. It is a plural verb. It is fluid, it is different for each person. Bucky Fuller wrote a book, "I Seem to be a Verb". Genius, that man. Too bad they thought he was crazy. But that is the curse of the creative, of genius. The masses, the people who live in their narrow, prescribed 'reality', think the creative and the geniuses are nuts. Too bad for them.
With my own two hands, I'm going to make that crazy old RV beautiful! It's going to have a yellow and purple kitchen. It's going to have glow-in-the-dark stars on a black ceiling above the bed. It's going to have pretty cushions, and braided rag rugs. It is my homestead, my frontier. I am going forth boldly into my future. Maybe we'll rent someplace when we get where we're going. Maybe we'll live in the RV. Maybe we'll do a combination. Maybe we'll get some jobs, maybe at the health food store and the bike tour company, and save a little bit of cash to buy a couple acres, and build an earthship or a yurt. Who knows?
What I do know is that this isn't right. This doesn't feed my mind, body or soul. This shit only steals from my essence. It crushes who I am, it makes me a nervous, cynical, unpleasant person. I am none of those.
The only things that truly matter in life are the people that we love. This version of somebody else's 'reality' steals people away from one another in the name of taking care of those very same people. Screw that, man. Seriously. Screw that. There is no beauty there. There is no love. In my American Dream, it's all about the beauty and the love and the truth. That is our reality. That is the reality I choose.