I have been living the dream in California for 7 months now. But recently I got a chance to go back home to Wisconsin where the dream began.
After a 15 hour bout of traveling, an emergency landing in Lubbock Texas, and a 3AM drive in the yellow convertible VW, I was finally home. . .
My mom peeking out from the top of the stairs enveloped me in her arms after I climbed the stairs. We spent the rest of the morning along with my sisters laughing and smiling over freshly baked blueberry muffins. I remember thinking it couldn’t get better than this, as I slipped into a late morning slumber.
But before I eased into my mostly subterranean childhood bedroom, I padded around the house to the lovely and warming voices of my family echoing from the kitchen. . .
And so begins the journey, part one of a multi-part series that I hope to bring you over the next week. We start here at home inside the walls where we come to relax, kick back, and share our stories from the day.
Speaking of garage sales, I visited one today. The lady running it called it an estate sale. First thing I saw was the FREE box, where I successfully scored a deep, heavy oatmeal bowl. Someone must have gotten sick of looking at the patriotic face of the oatmeal guy smiling on the front so much so they just gave it away for nothing. Also found a silver, sleek, tiny pocket knife that I will keep in my purse.
My mom taught me about the free box at garage sales. Last summer she pulled out a lime green, metal monkey from a box of free toys for children. Only when you turned this monkey’s arm down 45 degrees, its head lights up with a flame of fire. Its a lighter.
At the garage sale today, the lady showed me her sister and brother-in-law’s invention; plastic plates that had a hole on the end for you to put your drink on. I could use them for a year she says and then…um
Is that Green Bay Packers, I ask pointing to the red set with the G in the middle.
Well its red she said, so I don’t think so.
But that’s the G, I thought to myself.
Lunch was a short trip to a sad little farmer’s market. I think when there are more people in a given area, quality events are harder to come by. Lunch was a delicious dish from Afghanistan, called a Bolani. Even though it looked like a boring quesadilla I might have microwaved as dinner in my high school days , it was like nothing I had ever tasted. The bread was flat yet fluffy and the potato inside was mixed with incredibly aromatic and savory spices. The sauce was a sweet/spicy chutney that capped the deep flavor of the Bolani with a tangy twinge of the tongue.
Afterwards it indeed felt great to sit down when I was all finished to a dinner made by my one and only.
What a treat, and now I’m beat.
Next posting will be a recipe, Chicken Bread & Onions (Imsakhan).
I was looking for the hydrogen peroxide to clean my manicuring tools the other day, and I realized I had organized it all the way downstairs in the cleaning supplies area. Why had I done that? I don’t use it for anything outside of cleaning stuff that I store in the linen closet upstairs. What happened is a classic example of over-zealous new home organizing. When everything is brand new, apparently I feel the need to come up with all new ideas and uses for products. But really, a lot of stuff just stays the same.
Sure, you can start fresh, and perhaps that new path will lead you places you never thought you would go, but it’s always good to nail the basics down. This will help stabilize you in your new life.
As for me, I wouldn’t say I have adjusted completely. I still think of my home in Wisconsin as my home, and this new life in California feels temporary. But I sat in my garden tonight and planted some seedlings while the sun set, and for a moment I felt I could just be. That’s the feeling that comes when I am settled, and I look forward to more moments like that.
Another session in the sauna helped the process. Two days ago I was sick as a dog-nauseated all day. Late in the evening I joined my husband for an evening at the gym. I was sick but I had a feeling the sauna would help me feel better.
Well, the sauna was hot-hotter than it had ever been. My favorite sauna acquaintance was there. She is a lady marred by a car accident involving a texter while driving type. She comes to the gym to work out in the pool, and afterwards shuffles to the sauna with her walker. She is always in pain, and every day is a battle. As we sat together, I let it all out so to say. I told her how I haven’t been feeling good, and how crowded grocery stores and aggressive drivers on the highway make me nervous. I told her how I was frustrated that I couldn’t cook to save my life, that keeping up a house was harder than I thought it would be, and that working out had gone completely by the wayside. I told her I was worried about our new business ventures and that I was scared we would fail. She asked me if I was depressed, and I honestly could say no, I’m not depressed but I was in the habit of thinking like a depressed person. Old habits die hard.
We sweated it out for close to forty minutes and when I got out of there, I was as red as a tomato for at least an hour. That night I went to bed and I had a dream that I had expelled all these toxins from my body. The toxins looked like chunks of raw earth.
When I awoke in the morning, I felt light and free. It was as if a new attitude washed over me, one that was indelibly positive. It occurred to me that if I do the best I can and still fail, then there was nothing to worry about. Any impending failure would be there due to forces I cannot control. I zoomed to the store on the freeway with the windows down and visited the grocery store in the evening only to truly enjoy every moment. Furthermore, I worked on our store with total zeal and found that familiar strength that makes me a powerhouse in the area of business.
I know now that I can do anything I want, and have begun serious plans to go into the fashion business with my sisters.
Last night I drifted into sleep mulling over ideas to write a children’s book, and didn’t let myself fall asleep until I had one good idea to go with the next time I picked up the project.
I am sure the ebb and flow of inspiration will change this state of being, but each time I face my dreams and everyday life as a strong, capable woman, I am able to face the dark days with more wisdom and accomplishment.
There are a number of journeys that can constitute a spiritual journey. One is the journey you take from one home to another: The man traveling from Wisconsin who sells his Chevy for a bus ticket to California, ends up traveling for three days without a shower or a bed.
Another journey you take to shed your baggage in order to find something that is missing from your life: Three semi-estranged brothers reunite on a train to search for their mother, who has joined a convent in India.
Another yet, is the one you take to bury a loved one: The daughter comes back to her old hometown to share her mother’s final days.
Some journeys are drawn out and some are short and fast. Some you take alone and some are crowded with voices.
It need not be approached too consciously; getting overly involved in its contents and outcome will cause you to over think.
First, you must be called upon. This will come in the form of an opportunity that you will either listen to or not. Be a YES man, take that chance and start your journey.
You begin totally green.
Along the way you will meet characters with their own wisdom.
Some will recognize your journey as one that will continue.
Others will believe you have gone as far as you should go.
Furthermore, you will be presented with trials.
These you must face in light of your history and what brought you there in the first place.
The characters that you interact with and the trials you face play with different aspects of your subconscious and conscious mind.Some call upon your analytic reasoning powers while others will dip into the imagination…About halfway through, you will have a revelation of sorts.
This will transform you.
Here is a mini journey for you to take, enjoy:
OKLAHOMA: Arrive in the late evening and forgive the clerk for not checking you in for another weary hour. He and Tiny Tim were dining on a goose in room 107, and they couldn’t hear the bell. Drop off your luggage and shower. Hop into the car to grab a snack and check out the sites. You’re going to be tired and won’t want to get back in the car, but luckily you will be paid in full.
This will be one of the most profound moments of your journey. In the dead of the evening, tour the OK City national memorial. On Christmas night, it will be completely empty, silent, and endless. In fact, the whole city will seem that way, eerily peaceful and apocalyptic.
The next day, greet the long day of driving with a breakfast of steak and eggs right in the stockyards. Drive until you hit the continental divide and stop at the first authentic trading post you see. Pick up the moccasins. They will be your favorite souvenir.
NEW MEXICO: Here you will begin to see the landscape dramatically change. The snow will recede if you’re lucky and it will only get warmer from here on out, so drop your big sweater, avoid the cracker barrel (too much pork and not enough non-pork), and drive! Make a life plan to buy property in the canyons and build a ranch. Continue on. If you leave in the late morning, you can hit the petrified forest just as its closing for sunset. Stretch your legs and lament at the closing, and get back on the road.
The road to Phoenix will be as curvy as Marilyn Monroe and it will be night, so say your prayers and grip the steering wheel until your knuckles turn white.
ARIZONA: Just before getting to your rest destination stop at the casino on the outskirts and play the wheel to decide if its steak or hamburgers for dinner. Find out the special is $7 for ribeye with all the fixins’, and decide win, lose, its steak tonight. For your final layover on the way to California, plan to stay two nights in Phoenix so you can rest and see the sights. Stay at a cheap hotel with all the amenities, including a little living area/kitchen and free coffee, breakfast, and WIFI. Wonder at how you spent half of what you spent one night at the boutique hotel for two nights with everything. Visit a cheesy amusement park as soon as it opens and ride the giant drop three times or until you become an adrenaline junky. Try to keep your eyes open. Ride a couple coasters and lunch on gooey mall sandwiches kitty corner to the amusement park. Go back and take a long nap, you did a lot, your body thinks you almost died a bunch of times. Let it rest.
CALIFORNIA: Speaking of rest, its time for the final stretch. Drive lazily past Yuma and as the sun is setting visit the spot your husband first proposed with the words, “No one really wants to get married, but do you want to anyway?” Take your final trek home, just in time to have dinner with your new family. Go to sleep, singing that song that has been in your head since you began your journey.
Musings on a winter road trip from WI to CA
WISCONSIN: Drive swiftly by the old sites, the ones that have been ingrained into your mind like etchings. Start at sunset, so the sun can set on your old life and rise in your new one. Forget about Illinois to avoid tolls and head straight through Dubuque Iowa until you have reached Des Moines. Crash into a cheap hotel with a clean bed and a hot shower on your first night.
TIP 1: For free luxurious breaks in driving, casinos make for excellent choices. Not only can you get a hot, free cup of coffee, the bathrooms are usually clean. Also if you are lucky enough to be central within major cities, capitol buildings open to the public promise marble sinks.
TIP 2: Use tape or sticky packaging to pick up crumbs in your small car compartments.
IOWA: After a brief rest, wake the next day to take a brisk walk around a park. Eat lunch recommended by a food host on a cable tv show. Avoid online reviewers of restaurants in the area, they could be anybody and generally don’t know what they are talking about. Find a cool shop and take home an eccentric olive oil infused with basil, after you have tasted all the shop has to offer. Visit the capitol building right before the Iowa caucus takes place and sense the calm before the storm stoically harnessed in Lincoln and Tad’s memorial statue.
KANSAS: Drive no more than three hours to your next destination and stay at a ritzy, boutique hotel and treat yourself to some pampering time…Scratch that, don’t stay anywhere without a working shower, windows that open, and have no coffee maker, no matter what the reviews might say. But of course that’s the risk we take, money can’t buy luxury anymore. Anyway, day three, do a lot of driving and get far as far away from Kansas City as possible. (The Power and Light District is not as exciting as it sounds, at least not on Christmas Eve.)
TIP 3: Pack enough in order to not have to ask strangers for help, but at the same time, pack light. And if you have to ask a stranger, avoid the 711 in the ghetto of Kansas City.
Up next: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California…