This morning, after the Bigs left for the beach with their grandparents and the Littles battled their way into naptime, Shawn sat at the kitchen table, writing, while I stood at the stove, brewing up another batch of Ham and Bean Soup.
“I’m ready to get outta here,” he said, glancing up at me, smiling and thoughtful. I grinned back because he had echoed exactly the feeling that greeted my waking eyes earlier this morning. I had been laying in bed, nestled under the minimal protection of a sheet as a coolish breeze blew through Willie’s only openable (is that a word?) window, when the sensation hit: it’s time to move on.
Our visit in Sarasota has been everything we needed it to be: late-night card games with family, slow bike rides on overgrown tricycles, unflinching sunshine, and 10 consecutive nights of ice cream after dinner, simple ingredients for an unforgettable week.
But I’m getting an itch, somewhere towards the tops of my shoulders, almost at the base of my neck. It’s the itch to move on. I’ve gotten more familiar with the sensation as our trip goes along. Once the novelty of a place wears off, my mind begins to wander to other spaces, locations in my mental sphere that I don’t want it to go, places like: “Where-Will-We-Move-to-When-the-Trip-is-Over-ville”, “Not-Good-Enough Beach”, “Anxiety-over-Money City” and “What-Kind-of-Children-am-I-Raising-burg”. Our traveling is a necessary and delightful distraction.
Years and years ago, a counselor introduced me to the concept of “ruminating”. It may be hard to believe, but even at the blossoming age of twelve, I had already developed the habit of cozying up with my thoughts, sorting through them like baseball cards, memorizing the sub-A grade on a test or reliving a cold interaction with my dad, for days, weeks, even years.
Now the details of my thoughts have changed and multiplied, but my reaction to them hasn’t. Too often I live in my mind, trapsing through the muddy streets and across the rickety bridges to the thoughts that have built awkward, fumbling cities of “what if’s” and “not good enough’s”. Sure, I’ll go through the routine of life, but I spend too much time residing, living, in my mind.
However, as this trip progresses, there have been too many exciting, life-giving activities going on that I can’t manage to set up shop in my mind. The magnetic pull of real life is too much for the pathetic whispers of the shriveled cities in my mind. And that’s a really good thing. But I do start to wonder, “Maile, what will you do when this trip ends? What will you do when you can’t just pull up stakes the moment things get mundane and you start doing the rounds at your mental hot-spots? Are you creating a bad habit here?”
I’m not sure, but I’m going to take the “cup is half-full” approach on this one and say, “No.” I think I actually may be creating some helpful habits of how to deal with the wanderings of my mind from here on out. Perhaps, when this adventure ends, I’ll just start a new one. I wonder if maybe I didn’t fill my real life with enough gusto to make it worth staying in. I equated a good day with laundry done and folded, kids bathed, house vacuumed, kitchen cleaned, and 30 minutes of quiet time for myself.
Really? Is a neat and tidy life equal a life well lived? Let’s just say, I’m beginning to have my doubts…