Laced Up Eyelashes Sep26

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Laced Up Eyelashes

Don’t give up on this post – it’s a little shallow up front, but it gets there in the end.

It was a five hour drive from Sioux Falls, SD to La Crosse, Wisconsin and it took us across the entire state of Minnesota. We call drives like that a “loaf drive”, not because they’re easy, but because the roads take us through the rural countryside and farmland where they roll the hay up like a giant Ho Ho, or a loaf, instead of those smaller rectangular bales. The hay loaves dotted the fields all around us and silos and barns popped up every so often while we drove and drove.

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Having learned that we really didn’t like the pace of a bunch of one-night stays strung together, we gave ourselves 2 nights in La Crosse even though we had no points of interest there. We slept in that first morning and then took our bikes out for a lazy ride across the very wide Mississippi River and into town.

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Riverside Park runs along the Mississippi and is shared by bikers, walkers and bench sitters. Several hotels and restaurants line the shore and at one end there is a really nice Japanese Garden. It was a cool, cloudy day which was such a deep relief after our hot days in the Badlands.

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When we got back to the campground, we rode around a while longer checking out the other campers and the marina. But after that, there was nothing to do. Oh beautiful nothing. Hours without even an outline to them, unplanned, full of possibilities, amorphous things waiting for me to give them shape.

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I chose to write. I love to write.

Despite that love, it has been quite a challenge keeping this blog. It’s very rewarding and worth the effort because we’ll have these memories documented forever, but it dips into the category of “work” a little too often. It’s uncomfortable for me that we’re so far behind and it bugs me when I write boring posts – the ones that sound like a travel log. My mom says I should give myself permission to skip things. Although I’ve been tempted, so far I’m still the bitchiest boss I’ve ever had. Totally demanding. And so almost daily, the list of events and photos that I want to share grows out ahead of me. I don’t work, I live in an RV and I’m still a slave to my “to do” list.

But every so often we settle. The pace slows enough for me to open up the trunk of empty hours and put them on like princess clothes so I can pretend for a little while that I’m someone who can be still. Someone who has plenty of time, someone who deserves to be still.

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This is what I wrote on that nothing afternoon in La Crosse, Sunday, July 28th 2013.

Sometimes you can look into the sunlight, not directly, but close enough that lacy extensions fly off the end of your eyelashes and if you have a tree or clouds in view, the whole thing is enormously romantic. I just had my head laid back on the couch, looking out the side window through my sun-laced eyelashes, a few trees and the Mississippi river sparkling in the distance. We have music playing tonight, Ali is cooking dinner and I’m daydreaming, thinking of ways to ensnare our life with a net of words. Did I ever take time to fit lace onto the end of my eyelashes when I was working?

Truly free time for adults is precious and I’m so grateful for what I’m experiencing this year. But don’t be fooled, we still often FEEL like we’re wasting time and it drives Allison and I into fits of guilt. We continue to have trouble defining the right value for our choices. We feel the absence of “purpose”, the absence of income, and regret keeps whispering in our ears about things undone.

Woah, hold on, Donna Summer’s Bad Girls just came on. Gotta dance. Toot toot, hey, beep beep!

We’re in desperate need of new music by the way. It is actually possible to get tired of 300 songs, which is all we have between us on our iPhones – since we need room for photos. Despite that, we continue to be surprised at how effective loud, beloved music is at elevating our mood and pulling us deliciously deep into a moment in time. Even if it’s a song we’ve heard a hundred times. Dancing, enjoying music, is that a good value for our time? Hell yes, I say, but what’s 3 minutes? A blink. It’s so much harder to choose how to spend a whole day, a week, a year, a life.

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I love the way Allison scrunches up her lips when she’s using a knife. I think that’s what truly free time does for us – it stretches us out in our minds into long, slender, antennas that are finally sensitive enough notice and appreciate ordinary things. I keep saying “truly” free as if it’s necessary to distinguish what I’m talking about from just regular free time. It is a needed adjective, right? Most of you have free time to some degree, just not to the extent that we do – jobless, no Monday reality to fight with. Heck, it’s funny and remarkable when one of us even knows what day of the week it is or what date in the month. We actually laugh and celebrate that we were able to swing out a grappling hook toward the calendar and land on the right square. Phew – we’re still attached!

Our lives have forever been changed by what we’ve done. I can feel and see the value in it all when I look back, because the past is already a full-color, wall-sized mural in my memory. None of the stupid or wasted choices are included, it’s only the highlights. The problem is that our monkey-minds still rule the present and future, too often pulling us into worry and doubt and guilt.

I wonder if we will ever finally sink into the gift, heads totally submerged. For now, we’re still treading water, kicking our legs like mad, faces grinning for approval from all the people in the lounge chairs on the beach. The Unsinkable Linda Marie and Allison Mad Dog Paddler.

Oh well – I’ll put the gavel down for a little while, judgement will have to wait. Time for dinner.