“That’s so brave.”
This is the number comment I’m getting about The Plan. It had a huge lead over, “That’s crazy,” “Are you sure,” and, “Good god” by several noses.
I am not sure how I feel about this. I don’t feel particularly brave. Quite the opposite actually. If there is a space somewhere between scared shitless and dubiously doubtful, I’m there.
Of course being the ever passionate optimist I’m speaking more about the silver lining than the grey muck within. Someone recently said, “Look at you, going through all this and still smiling!” Well yes, I’m not much of one for sniveling or sharing how often I’m waking up nights thinking, “Am I fucking crazy? I must be. This is nuts. Did I leave the oven on?” (Anxiety loves to change the subject to something equally worrisome.)
I have moments where I am exceptionally detail oriented, and others when I am doing my best imitation of a creature whose head is in the sand, tail feathers up and vision blocked. It’s a process. I feel like I am running out of time to get my shit together while simultaneously thinking everything is going to be okay. I have no idea if the latter is due to my unshakable faith in my fellow man or completely delusional thinking.
When I visualize being on the road, I have a hazy picture of a highway and a horizon. When I dream about it, I see potholes the size of big rigs and greedy disembodied hands reaching for us. I try to focus on the vision and not the ramblings of my subconscious.
I have done this before, you know. When I was eight years old, I was shoved into the back of a VW bus along with my mother and her brother (who was a complete dick but at least he drove,) and off we went for the summer of ‘82. We headed all the way to Wisconsin, picked up my aunt from college, (and ALL her stuff,) dropped her off in PA and then came back to Cali. That middle hop was… Cozy. This was also the trip where I picked up my first Comic (Batman, yes,) at a truck stop in the middle of boon-fuck Egypt. I was fond of having meltdowns at stops with tchotchkes and my desperate family would appease me with dimes for machines that dispensed small pieces of plastic cleverly designed as toys. They were also designed to be quickly lost so the pattern could be repeated with one exception; there was a brand of machines that sold small interlocking trucks & cars that could swap parts and be put together in larger assemblages. I held on to those for many states. The hope of a future piece not already owned held me over for many long stretches of highway.
I got carsick easily but loved to read which put me into a horrible daily quandary of being self-entertained and wanting to die or being unbelievably bored and also wanting to die.
It wasn’t all bad. For every disgusting truck stop bathroom, campsites overrun with mosquitoes and epic Midwestern storms, (Pretty sure we saw a tornado forming at one point,) there were also moments of magnificent splendor. At Devil’s Tower we had a lightning storm with coyotes howling and stars still visible. My young mind was indelibly stamped with that image and it still appears to me in dreams. I got to see Old Faithful at Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore and explore real, underground, wet, dark caves. (Gods, they were gorgeous.)
In spite of not being a social child, I was still able to absorb many of the experiences in a solitary way that worked for me. I had my books and my imagination and was perfectly happy to spend hours looking at a tadpole or climbing a tree and declaring it to be my own secret country. I know I played with some other children here and there along the way. The sort of friends one makes at rest stops, briefly bonded with and just as easily forgotten. There is only one I dimly remember. She had a corona of blond hair and skinny, skinny limbs and she laughed in a funny way. She was kind to me. Since most other kids either barely tolerated me or flat out chased my strange self away, she made an impression.
I wonder if Ducky is going to find friends like these, the roadside kids. If so, his experience is likely to be wildly different than mine. When he hits it off with another kid, a loss of contact is not a guaranteed outcome. My 21st century boy will likely have an email/cell phone/steam avatar exchange and they will stay in contact for the summer. Or during their teens. Or for life.
My inner child thinks this is very cool. In fact she is downright jealous. Then again, I didn’t have the social skills to maintain friendships at that age so it’s just as well. My offspring on the other hand seems born to make friends, outgoing and an social to the point where I wish I had provided him with a twin to help occupy his time.
I REALLY wish this. Quite often. Like nearly every loud second we are together.
So help me, am I really going to do this to us?
Fuck yeah. Let’s go find some Purple Mountain Majesty.