Love By The Light Of The Fire Pit
“Let’s take a road trip,” my friends suggested. Not an hour earlier the three of us ate s’mores and drank wine, their pleading with me to apply for another position in another department. My current chores strangled me in a vortex of boredom and uselessness. Truly, I felt that a change of department would be akin to moving to a new house but still living with the same bad spouse. No, I insisted against the open position. I need a fresh start in a new place with completely different mindset from the life I was living. Let’s be honest, it more closely resembling a life dying. Declining and skipping the road trip – one that ultimately benefitted me more than just an afternoon outing – never crossed my lips.
As is typical, I agreed to drive, because I love driving. I love being in control of where I am going, seeing new places, plotting a course, looking at maps, taking different routes there and back. I love planning additional excursions and stopping randomly along the way just because I feel like it. I love taking pictures, both the digital images with my camera and the mental images that imprint themselves on my brain. I love a long stretch of pavement disappearing around a bend, climbing over a hill, or meeting the horizon. At o’dark thirty we start our outing with plenty of caffeine and a hefty dose of laughter. That’s how friends travel, right?
We arrive north of Palatka, Florida, having woven through the waterways of the St. John’s River. Our destination: an open house at a truck-driving school. My destination: to shake up my life. We each bring our own set of glasses – our individual viewpoints on the day’s events and impact – and we absorb different pieces of knowledge based on what we wonder, what we don’t understand, and the questions we want answered. Well, at least I do. We listen to presentations, we take notes, and we ride around in eighteen-wheeled classrooms, and we enjoy a bite of lunch, snap a few pictures, and continue on our way to the regional winery to taste some wine and digest the morning’s information. If I am going to make a hard left turn, I want to let the prospect soak into my skin and settle in my spirit. Thankfully, my friends are aware I am contemplating this self-imposed reversal of fortune. They know the information that has been laid out in front of me, and think I am just weird enough to pull the trigger.
When Memorial Day rolls around, I repeat the road trip (taking a slightly different route as I love to do), driving solo, and telling no one of my excursion. I arrive literally and metaphorically. I listen to the same presentations, take different notes, ride a couple additional laps in the big rig, and sign on the dotted line. That’s it. I just changed my life. I open my mind and my future. As unquestionably as this new experience differs from the entire life I have known, making this move will surprise no one, and not because impetuousness characterizes me, but because they don’t give my sudden twist much thought at all. Most people who eventually hear my news almost expect this change of me. I wondered if they recognize my willingness – my eagerness – to undertake new adventures, or if they could see the mid-life crisis I chose to ignore.