As the journey continues, some facts and impressions and thoughts are surfacing.
The best laid plans never quite have all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, and it’s okay.
Items forgotten at home: sewing kit, swim goggles, means of backing up my laptop, small dustpan and brush for the tent. And that’s just the items I’ve noticed. None of this has been a problem. There have been no sewing emergencies; two young girls happily lent their swim goggles to Lily on two occasions; Pauline gave me a flash drive to back up my laptop; and I’m ignoring the debris that got tracked into the tent. (Although I hope it will stop raining soon so I can air it out, since I had to pack it away while it was damp.)
I thought I was going to somewhat-more-formally interview my hosts, and that hasn’t happened to date. Thus far, it doesn’t feel like a problem, either. It feels much more important to allow the flow of conversation to occur unimpeded and without excessive guidance from pre-formulated questions. It seems that I and my hosts so far (Pauline, Jen, and Got Grange) have a real need to simply talk, simply connect. I don’t WANT to prematurely channel these conversations so that they’ll somehow fit into preconceived notions of what my book is about. I think I just need to give myself permission to abandon the “interview” idea, unless it feels like the thing to do with any given person. Okay, then! Forget “interviewing.” I just want us all to be real with each other. And that’s exactly what’s been happening.
I also thought I would be much more diligent about taking notes and writing more. I’m not sure it’s a realistic goal. It was something I was worried about for months, before the trip started. It was very helpful to me to re-read a previous post I had written, reminding myself to approach things gently, curiously, without excessive expectations of myself or others. It’s so easy, as an alleged product of this culture, to approach almost everything with an Achievement mindset, which it turns out is just the flip side of the Failure mindset. But you know what? I don’t need any of that anymore. I don’t need to see this journey as a means to a Product: a Book. This journey is MY LIFE, damn it. The Book is just the sprinkles on top. The Book is not, in fact, what I’m working on right now, and I never planned it that way; it was always meant to be written afterwards. Right now what I’m meant to do is Live. Taking notes is still a laudable goal, I think, but if it means sacrificing time with my hosts/friends/loves? sacrificing much-needed sleep? sacrificing how I’m relating to Lily? in short, sacrificing the work and art of living this journey, embodying this journey? No. I won’t have it.
The writing and documenting I do cannot replace the immersion into tangible experience, the delight of eye contact, the sharing of food, the miracle of long and heartfelt conversations, the grateful sinking into the heart-haven of friendship. Every day brings profound confirmation of the importance and necessity of this pilgrimage.
At this very moment, I am curled up on a comfortable couch, alone, in a tucked-away corner of Got Grange’s beautiful home filled with eclectic objects and artwork. Lily has just returned from a walk with GG and her daughter and it smells like Mr. GG has just finished preparing dinner. I feel so spoiled by all my hosts. GG brought us for a driving tour around Richmond and we have been talking and talking and talking and I’m happy as an otter in the rain.