Week 6

Peaceful Autumn Evening

We are half way through! How can that even be possible?  I knew it was going to go fast and it has.  And I’m sure Harlan would add that there are moments when it feels like the days are inching past.  When I was packing for Road School, I included a baggie of words, photos and images so Harlan and I could collage journals together.  (Side note:  I believe it was Day 3 of our trip when I realized this would never happen.  No way was Harlan going to eagerly collage with me and plink out Kumbaya on the ukelele.  Yeah right!)  Well, last night, I finally got to collage my journal cover!  6 weeks in I had some free moments and bandwidth for creativity!
Last week, a dear friend reminded me over dinner about something I experienced my first time in India.  The country and all the ways it flooded my senses was, at times, completely overwhelming and the only way I could process all of it was to take hours of down time, lying on my bed, staring at my phone.  No judgement.  Everyone processes new stimuli differently.  Road School 2017 has completely come in and captured all of my senses, turned my life upside down and given me new experiences to process daily.  And my bandwidth for creativity has been severley compromised.  I had plans y’all!  I was going to write a book!  I was going to create cirriculum.  I was going to paddle board every day and meditate.  I’ve barely been able to return a phone call!

And you know what?  That is actually the best gift of Road School (in my opinion.)  To be present with each day and not overload it with expectations, with productivity, with conversations that take me out of my experience with Harlan and our time together.  It’s taken me 6 weeks – the half way point – to feel like I’ve relaxed my expecations of myself.  I’ve slowed down, and  for the most part, each day unfolds in the flow.  Harlan and I wake up and figure out the day together.  Many days, the “agenda” gets tossed out the window for a different set of circumstances.  To live this way feels ancient, as in an inner wisdom based on weather, shelter, food – the natural factors that dictate our activities.  It also feels like an immense privilege – to be able to create each day with no need to consider a job, school or any other timetable.  It is incredibly freeing and I highly recommend it.  I wonder how I will ever go back to a schedule when this is over?

For those of you who are following along on our journey (and I am so glad you are!) last week we were pet-sitting and enjoying the creature comforts of having a house.  While staying in the Bay Area, I went to a Snatam Kaur concert in Oakland which was beautiful and got to visit with a few friends.  

Smokey Air and a skyline I don’t recognize

We took the Larkspur ferry into San Francisco one day and visited the city.  Harlan really enjoyed checking out a record store. And I got to reminisce about all the places I lived and worked a 100 years ago and basically be my mother when she used to point out all the places she lived and worked in San Francisco 200 years ago.  Hah!  But the highlight was the ferry ride back where we met a friendly woman who gave Harlan advice about keeping his hair healthy and how to keep his one dreadlock from becoming one giant clump and then gave him expensive Kiehl’s facial cream samples and basically made me believe in human angels. I loved her. Never got a contact for her but her name is Jen and she’s a barber in the financial district of SF. 

Nice Hair Buddy

Harlan and I decided to escape the smokey air and head back south to Santa Cruz to resume our triathlon training – which had been put on hold.  I dunno folks, I’m kind of freaked that we are going to be doing a (Sprint) triathlon in less than two weeks. Harlan remains unphased. 

Yesterday we biked, swam and paddle boarded. And meditated (awww yeah!) and today H went to the gym and I’m about to go to yoga with my all time favorite yoga teacher. There is a fire in the Santa Cruz mountains (what?) and today the air was filled with a familiar smell of smoke. I also think it is our first cloudy day we have had in weeks. 

I’m sure there’s much more to share but I’m running out of steam and Harlan and I are going to watch a movie on the iPad. The first time we’ve done that on the trip! 

Until next week…

Harlan’s beach fire
Never gets old
Working from Home
Creating

Week 5

Week 5 has come and gone and my update is a day late.  I am struggling with what exactly to write.  Not because you as a reader cares per se, but because I want to make sure I get it ‘right’.

Part of me wants to tell you about the beautiful week we had in Calistoga, enjoying the town and bumping up our training for the quickly approaching triathlon we are doing at the end of the month.  Or the achingly perfect night we had at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes, where the beach was warm and still and the sun set in a blaze of orange and pink and I offered my full moon prayers up to the night sky.  Only as we drove away in the dark, did the giant moon rise above the trees, startling us with its size.

And then there’s the piece I want to share about housesitting for a few days in an actual home, with laundry and a dishwasher and kitties and separate bedrooms – privacy!

But much of the actual reporting of details is overshadowed by the raging fires up in Napa and Sonoma counties going on right now as I type.  In fact, just a few hours ago, the entire town of Calistoga, where we were just days ago, is under mandatory evacuation.  Here in the Bay Area, where we are pet sitting, the air smells like a campfire and the sky has an eerie orange glow.  We started our journey in early September with ash raining down from Washington forest fires and ash is falling down again.  A surreal sense of familiarity.

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Morning Sky in the East Bay

Perhaps most important for me to convey, but hardest to put into words, is the deep gratitude I’ve been feeling for this time I am spending with my son.  Harlan has been going back and forth between his dad’s house and mine since he was a toddler.  For most of his life, I haven’t been able to be with him every day.  As Harlan has grown and matured into a young man, he has naturally pulled away from me.  I have felt that this was right and natural for his age, and have accepted it as a milestone of growing up.

But to have this chance…a second chance if you will…to be with my son, to wake up with him every morning, to plan our days, to swim laps side by side, to eat together, to turn off the lights and go to sleep in unison – is a gift.

Don’t get me wrong, this ‘gift’ is not always appreciated or easy.  I am “on” as a parent 24/7, teaching, nudging, supervising, buying ingredients, making meals, cleaning up, (a lot of energy is spent around food – which anyone who knows me knows that is not my strong suit – cooking or feeding!)  Harlan is a typical teen – he is definitely not overjoyed to hang out with his mom every minute of every day.  In fact, he can lapse into morose silence quite easily.  And I can chatter happily about anything and everything, which bums him out.  What we do have is respect for each other and an ability to have conversations about what is annoying us.  We also share a sense of humor for most everything and can usually laugh about things.

I know I have been given a rare opportunity, at a time where most 15 year old boys are launching out in the world, establishing their independence, I have this precious window, a tiny sliver of time, to be with my son and parent him, perhaps fill in some of the blanks that I skipped or missed, to see him as the fine young man that he is vs. the cuddly little kid I sometimes wish he still was.  Harlan was the baby of the family and I still tend to want to baby him as my ‘go to’ first response.  I am getting to know him.  To think I may have missed this chance if not for this journey is a sobering thought.  This feels big and deep and personal.  Again, not easy for me to put into words.

Every day continues to present learning opportunities.  It’s crazy how much he is being introduced to by traveling as we are.  Here are just a few things I can think of in just the past few days:

  • Weather Patterns
  • Fires
  • Distance calculations
  • Different Cultures/Ethnicities
  • Food
  • Cooking
  • Cities
  • Music
  • Map reading
  • Camping
  • Solar panels
  • Interactions with all ages
  • Tides
  • Swimming/Cycling/Running
  • Nutrition
  • Self Awareness
  • Patience
  • Self Care
  • Hygiene

This week finds us finishing up our housesitting gig and enjoying the comforts of a home and cats.  Continuing to train (although the air is quite compromised which is imposing some rest days – probably a good thing) and we will push off on Sunday to a new destination.  Stay tuned and, as always, thanks for following along!

 

 

 

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Pt. Reyes

Week 4

Evening Run

 

Week 4 has just ended. There have been some subtle shifts – in the climate as well as within myself.

Flashing back to Week 1 (where I agonized over every decision and tried to plan out every detail before the moment happened) I have to say that I am proud of how Harlan and I navigate our world these days.

Last Tuesday Harlan arrived in California. We immediately headed down to Santa Cruz. We had no idea where we would park or stay, we just knew the weather was beautiful and we both felt compelled to get down there.

On the drive down to Santa Cruz, I asked Harlan to google “Santa Cruz RV Park” and lo and behold, there is one! And it’s got the best view in town, right at the back of the Santa Cruz Harbor. Harlan handled the reservations on the phone and we were all set. Instead of stressing out, it felt very easy and stress-free.

Our View

 

Instead of driving around Santa Cruz, we plugged in the van to the power adapter at the camp site and rode bikes everywhere we wanted to go – surf shops, the grocery store, the gym, my yoga studio, the community pool to swim laps, etc. Harlan would ride his skateboard to the beach or the coffee shop each morning. It was an idyllic week – with big thanks to Miriam for loaning us 2 bikes so we could cruise around SC so easily.

Other than the absolute joy of being so close to the ocean, and seeing old friends, a highlight for me was going to a special service (called Kol Nidrei) the night before Yom Kippur. When I went to yoga on Friday morning at the Pacific Cultural Center, I saw that there was a Kol Nidrei service that evening and all were welcome. I am so glad that Harlan and I went. Even though we were with a group of strangers, the beautiful songs were familiar and gave us a chance to remember family members who have died and say prayers for them.

We rode our bikes home in the dark and just before we went to sleep, Harlan said he was glad we had gone (and that we had stayed for the entire service!)

Since Santa Cruz kicked off our triathlon training, we are bumping it up a notch and are now headed to Napa where we will do some serious road riding and swimming. Now that we know the event is coming up, the thought of a quarter mile swim in the San Francisco Bay is a bit daunting, so we are trying to get some quantity time in at every lap pool in each town we stay.  Luckily, that’s been very easy and affordable, with nice outdoor city pools still open in October – and a great way to shower too!
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous! The days have been warm and sunny and/but we are definitely noticing the shorter days and chillier nights.

Fall is in the air

 

Regarding Harlan’s studies, I want to share that our travels are providing many opportunities for “teaching moments” and I can see Harlan absorbing all of it. I keep introducing different situations and people to him and he stays open and observant, as well as good-natured most of the time.
As I spoke about in our Week 3 update, Harlan had the good fortune to interview one of his favorite bands – Reel Big Fish. After the interview we sent a ‘thank you’ email to the trumpet player, John Christianson, who sent back a lovely reply with a quote from Mark Twain that I think sums up the mission of Road School 2017:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Until next week my friends. Thank you for following along with us.

Lap Swim