It feels like we’ve been on the road for a month now. In reality, it’s only been a couple weeks. This trip is about relationships as much as it is about adventure. And, I’m starting to see the ripples in the current of our relationships shift.
Jason and Charlotte haven’t always seen eye to eye. She’s a twelve year old girl and she acts very much like a twelve year old me. She’s opinionated and stubborn. She likes to have the last word. And, like many twelve year old girls, she’s dramatic and emotional. She catastrophizes situations often. So, the idea of taking her away from home, friends, family, her church, scouts, etc.- it’s been a hard sell. There were many emotional breakdowns leading up to launch day. We had many tearful talks and heart to heart moments. I understand her trepidation. I also understand her emotional response to it. It’s just like I would have acted if my parents would have “done this to me.” My twelve year old brain would not have registered that they were doing it for me anymore than hers does. My husband is baffled by her behavior. He grew up in a house with three brothers. Furthermore, his mom was a very tough woman. She was a single mom in Detroit. She worked the floor in a steel mill. She was beautiful. But, she kind of looked like Wonder Woman- strong arms, Amazon in appearance. Definitely not a shrinking violet. Not, the type of girl to sit and cry about someone being mean to her. She was more likely to just pop them in the mouth and move on. So, this delicate Charlotte of ours is…well…difficult for him to make sense of sometimes. But, two nights ago there he sat at the dinette, Charlotte concentrating hard on his hands. “I’m giving Dad a manicure.” He shrugged and gave me a “it’s making her happy” smile. They were bonding. I noticed a hashtag on her Instagram last night with a photo of a picturesque landscape- #Timeofmylife. I wanted to cry. Finally, after all these months, she’s starting to see the picture we’ve been trying desperately to paint. “This is going to be a good thing.” “Give it a chance.” “You might actually enjoy yourself.” Then, she fed prairie dogs peanuts. She got a cowgirl hat and rocked it at the rodeo. She ate Rocky Mountain oysters and thought it was hilarious. That’s my girl. I’ve been waiting for her infectious giggle and her quick humor to come back. It’s been awhile. It’s so nice to have it back.
My parents and close friends suggested that this trip might be rough on my marriage. “That’s a lot of time to spend together.” “You guys aren’t used to that.” They were right. We definitely were not used to spending a lot of time together. We spent very little time together. That was one of the big reasons for going on this trip: quality time. But, I have to admit. There was a little trepidation, at least on my part. Is this going to go ok? Or, will we fight like cats and dogs? Jason has been working 60-65 workweeks for years. My routine at home didn’t really involve him much. He was gone a lot. So, if the toilet needed fixed or the dishwasher needed a new part- it was my job to take care of it. I’m very self-sufficient and independent. How would I handle him being with me all the time? Would I feel smothered?
Well, I’m happy to report: I feel like I’m on my honeymoon. I have help! It’s wonderful. He’s cooking! He is a fantastic cook. I’m no longer responsible for everything around the house. We’ve settled into a routine. He drives. I navigate. He does outside work. I do inside work. I make his coffee. He cooks my eggs. We do everything together and you know what? It’s nice. I have my husband back and (thank God) I still like him. I’m falling in love with him all over again. I love that we’re in this crazy thing together. We trust and rely on each other like never before because we don’t really have a back up plan out here. It’s just us. I have so much respect and admiration for the courage it took him to drop everything at home and just take off with me on this adventure. He is the epitome of a supportive husband in that. I came to him with this idea about a year ago. I knew it was reckless. I knew people wouldn’t understand it. I also knew that it went against pretty much all social norms. But, he considered it. When he had questions about how it would work, I did more research. We talked and talked about it for months. Then, one day he said, “Well, we can keep talking about it or we can just do it.” So, we set a date and made the daydream a reality. I think we’re still shocked with ourselves that we actually took the leap. Someone recently made an offer on our house back home. When we got the call, we were excited. There weren’t feelings of sudden dread or remorse. We both felt at peace with the decision to sell. It was even a sense of relief. So, that’s a good sign I think. We’re finding ourselves with this new kind of relationship. He’s my protector. I’m his helpmeet. I still want to ride off in the sunset with him.
Jackson has really stepped up to the plate here on the road. I’m seeing glimmers of the man he’s becoming and I like what I see. When we are attaching and detaching our diesel truck to and from our fifth wheel, he is in charge. Jason drives. But, Jackson tells him when to turn, when to stop, and if everything is lined up properly. It’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Jason trusts him completely with the job. Jackson also helps with the hook-ups, in other words, our electric, water, and sewage tasks. It’s a lot to remember and has to be done correctly. He rises to the occasion each time and takes pride in his know-how. It makes me proud too.
So, that’s where we are tonight. At the intersection of pride and contentment- somewhere in Wyoming.