109 DAYS

birch_and_pine_travel_map_planning_travelThree nights ago, we sat backwards in our bed and stared at the wall behind us, where we hung a (beautiful) topographical map , running our fingers along possible routes and speaking (rather pragmatically, actually) about the places we'd like to visit first. For over a year now, I have been cataloging all of the various places we'd like to visit. I've taken screen shots from Instagram to remember places others have posted about, bookmarked pages on my laptop, and jotted down messy scratch in one of several graph paper Moleskines we've used for everything from notes on this blog, our forthcoming shop, Airstream interior and exterior design and pages of math and lists for purchase, and of course, actual travel destinations.

While we've had a vague idea of the initial routes we'd like to take, we've never allowed ourselves to talk about it...not really. We've had too much to do, too many roadblocks (pardon the pun), too many unknowns and variables out of our control. While we've always known we would travel, the when was always this far-off wonder. There was a time last autumn where we began to settle in again, assuredly without intention and I clung to the four walls of comfort, finding solace in the days of routine in all of it's familiarity, in all of it's soul-sucking glory. My anxious heart is susceptible to ease and normalcy, my crippling fears of the world itself are all-consuming if I let them, if I do not face them. I allowed the warmth of the known wash over me like water pouring into a bath and lapping over my body.

Two summers ago, I strapped two water skis to my feet and sat in the middle of a dark and deep lake, with two hundred and something odd feet to the bottom beneath me. My sweet Ellen was behind me, positioning my body and reassuring me, but when the motor started on the boat and propelled me forward, I was alone. My strength and mind enabled me to hold on to the tether, to lift my rump from the cool water, to push my wobbly legs straight. I was no longer thinking about the depths, I was thinking about my form, the strength of my arms against the weight and power of the boat, the deafening sounds of the engine and the wind and the rush of water that I was creating. I was creating it. And just before I pitched forward and plowed into the water, the biggest (and likely goofiest) smile spread across my face. Not only had I jumped off the dock that week into the water and swam out until I could no longer see the bottom, I went into the middle of the bay and stood, even if for only a moment and with bent knees on skis and allowed a boat I wasn't in control of pull me through the water. I tried and tried again until I'd swallowed enough water to last me a week and couldn't physically go any longer and climbed wearily back into the boat. The next summer I didn't water ski, but I drove that boat across the lake with the wind pushing my hair straight back. I took the kayak out alone on foggy misty mornings with my warm coffee and paddled to a point where I could sit in the gently moving water and drink my coffee and just...be. I was able to face my fear of water, the dark and the deep and the mysterious nature of it, by simply extracting myself from my normal environment and just doing.

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I think that traveling and living out on the road is something I must do. The walls of my home, while offering me protection, simultaneously suffocate me. When tracing those lines of roads on the map, I realized with fullness how little risk I've taken in my life. How each time I nearly did, I allowed circumstances and people to stop me, not because those things really mattered or would truly get in the way, but because of my own fears. Fears can be faced. I do get into planes and let them fly me places. I do stand on the edge of cliffs. I will travel and extract myself from the comfort of home. In 109 days.

So we're planning our routes and our summer, putting a plan in place, for not only travel but for the next step in our lives. We do not plan on moving back into our house once we move into the Airstream, even if we must return home for awhile after several months out. The Airstream renovations are moving along at a steady pace and the days are only getting longer and warmer. Today I will be putting items into boxes to sell and donate again. Even if our Airstream isn't shiny and our house hasn't sold, if we have to return home for awhile to make our mortgage payment for the house we're moving out of, we're going and we're not waiting any longer. In 109 days, I'm facing a fear and taking that risk, even if all of the pieces aren't in place, with my wife and daughter beside me, giving me strength and reassurance.