I’m buying a sleeping bag today.
Not shocking or important news, right?
Or maybe it is.
My school year is going to end in 2 weeks (9 more work day to be precise!) and after a few day of cleaning up my classroom and counting my books, I’m heading out of the DC area for the summer. I HATE DC in the summer. HATE. It’s muggy and hot and smelly and loud. It is everything about physical existence that I detest. So, this year, instead of suffering through summer with no good grace at all but rather a lot of complaining, I’m going to spend about 9 weeks in Portland, Oregon with my family. Portland is lovely in the summer; warm but not hot hot, very little humidity, green and open. In addition to the oh so important environmental comforts Oregon affords over Maryland, there are some big happenings with my family this summer (a baby, a birthday) that I’d like to be around for, so it just makes sense.
Around the time that I was telling people here that I wouldn’t be around for 3 months, my friend Margaret decided to move to Seattle for a year. So she asks me, “Would you like to drive to Oregon? We could camp!”
At first I was skeptical. I mean, I’d already bought my plane ticket, and I don’t drive, so I wouldn’t be any help, and many, wouldn’t that eat up all my (very meager) savings? Furthermore, CAMP? What? I don’t CAMP? I haven’t been camping in my whole adult life! One of my most treasured joys is that my students are too young for the traditional-end-of-the-year-camping-trips at school, so I don’t have to go camping. Anyway, I have to get to Portland as soon as possible, because …
You see, I can talk myself out of anything. No matter what it is, no matter how good it would be for me, no matter how much I want it, I can quickly and easily convince myself that it will be too hard, or I don’t have enough time, or I don’t have enough money, or I don’t really want it that much, or people will laugh at me, or (and this is the big one) I am not that kind of person. I think I make more decisions than I realize based on who I imagine myself to be. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a realistic sense of myself, but more that when I ponder something that I haven’t done (in this case camping) I assume it is something I don’t want to do or am not capable of doing, because it I wanted to/could, then I would have done it already. Therefore new experience, I am not that type of person. Take that!
But, I didn’t want to dismiss Margaret out of hand. And the idea just kind of sat in the back of my brain. What was stopping me? Was I the problem? (If you’ve read the paragraph above, then you know I discovered that yes, I was the problem.) The more I thought about it, the more good reasons I came up with. I’ve seen very little of the fly-over states, and mostly as weekend wedding trips. I usually go right from work to family with only a day in the airport between the two, so maybe it would be good for me to relax a little before inflicting myself on my family. I don’t have a job lined up for the summer, so it isn’t like I have a deadline for when I have to be in Portland, and really, when was the last time I didn’t have a deadline? Plus, (and this was what really got me) do I really want to be a person who doesn’t do things simple because I’ve never done them before? When I ask a student “Why did you do that?” and I get a blank look and a shoulder shrug in return, I tell them “If you don’t have a good reason for it, don’t do it.” I realized I needed to take my own advice, and stop shoulder-shrugging my decisions.
On Saturday Margaret and I officially decided to take this trip. I’m super nervous. I have no experience, no skills, and a tendency to get defeated pretty easily. I have no idea if I will be remotely pleasant to be with, spending day after day in a car. I am sort of convinced that Margaret will leave me in a corn-field somewhere in a state I can’t spell, and that she will be right to do so. But it’s ok for me to be nervous. In fact, it would be shocking if I weren’t. But in the end, Margaret is too nice a person to abandon me, no matter how just it would be, so that makes me feel a lot better.
So this afternoon I have to buy a sleeping bag. And a mat. And a cup and plate set. And a hat. I really hope there is a holiday sale.
(2 Years, 7 Months, and 6 Days Sober)