Evening Walk

After being holed up in the house all day, I had to get out. I asked Paul if he wanted to walk with me. He met me outside. After getting my stocking hat on, my scarf, my fleece jacket, and fleece gloves, I was ready. Spring had arrived with rain and if the sun isn’t out — it’s cold.
We have a showing of the house on Sunday.
“Good,” Paul said. “I’ve applied to places near the coast. I plan on getting some apps out to Portland.”
“You’re really ready to leave this house, aren’t you,” I asked. I’m having a harder time with all of his labor wasted than he is.
“I’m ready to live within our means,” he said, “and that means getting out of a house we can’t afford.”
“Do you really think it’s that different?” I said. “I mean, we built it so efficient. By the time we add twice the utility cost to our rent, wouldn’t it be the same if we modified?”
He pointed out that we blow a ton on gas, running the kids everywhere. He’s voting for a place in town right next to the schools.
I have to concede that he’s got a point there. But I look back at our beautiful home and feel the roots tug. I’ve let it go a thousand times and taken it back up again a thousand times. I’m so tired. I just want it done.
We started talking about the trip around the states.
“I like the little tent trailer. It’s nice sleeping off the ground,” I said. We’ll need a hitch to hook it to our new van.
Paul said, “Yes, but it’s a pain setting up the tent. It’ll be okay if we go somewhere and stay a week.”
This didn’t please me. I know that I’d be bored if I stayed a week almost anywhere. I want the wide vistas, the ever-changing landscapes, I want to be restless, sleep somewhere new every night. I want to wander from coast to coast like Jack Kerouak.
Paul looked at me tiredly. “Well, when you start pitching in on the organizing of camp and the setting up of it, you can have a say.”
That’s fair. I’ve sort of boycotted camping in the past. But I am willing to pitch in now, if I can have some say in the very beginning. Paul’s methods of organization make me give up in a hurry. I feel paralyzed when I look in the food box and find binoculars and toilet paper and a moldy sock. When I look for the dishwashing stuff, I find everything but the pan. Paul, in his mild, tolerating way, wanders around to his tool box, and pulls it out from there. Then, I need something else. Patiently, he saunters to his truck and pulls it out from under the passenger seat. He knows where everything is, but I am lost and continually at his mercy. Being an “all or nothing” kind of girl, I kick my feet up and refuse to do anything.
“The kids will be getting hungry soon,” I say, “What’s for dinner?” My feet are up to the fire and I’m enraptured in a book.
Paul sweetly serves me and everyone, without saying a word at the time.
I look around at our Sanford and Son campground and sigh. The kids are running around in their only pair of socks and they’re soaking wet. We lost the fly in a storm, so we have a makeshift tarp that covers are tent.
I look at the other campsites — so neat and tidy. They’ve got all the right gear. They’ve got a structured system that everyone’s complying with. I sigh again. I feel a sense of boredom. I look back at my book and escape.
But the kind of travel I want is the type Paul and I do when it’s just the two of us. It’s light and fast. I want to fly across the miles. See a new state every few days. I want the land ticking by me and to feel a change in the air and smell every night.
I wonder how it will be?
And, of course, if he gets a job it will all be moot.
Then, we’ll switch gears to a week or two on the McKenzie Trail and Mountain Classroom.
“I still haven’t forgotten about our sailboat,” Paul said.
“Me neither,” I said. “I’m just working on building a writing base so we’ll have an income during the time.”
“It’s all about tasks for you, isn’t it?” he asked.
“Yep,” I said. “I guess so.” I decided not to pursue what he meant by this because it would lead nowhere. “Life just keeps going by. We’ve gotta just do things. But we can’t do them in sweeping motions. We’ve gotta chip away, bit by bit, building, building, day-by-day. Even when we get where we want to go, we’ve got to find happiness while we’re chipping away. The happiness can’t be put off. It’s got to be experienced today. Otherwise, you get out of the habit of it and then when you’ve accomplished your goal, you don’t know how to be happy anymore. You’ve lost those pathways. You’ve lost those habits.”
Paul was lost in thought. I think he was imagining himself on a paddle board rowing down a calm river.
I just think of brain work. Time to read, walk, and write. The time on the river is just to give me something to write about. I have a hard time just being.
It’s strange to be arm in arm, side by side, with years together behind you and to know someone so well, to be able to finish his sentences, and yet sometimes … you realize that you both exist in separate universes and the chasm between you seems frightening and wide.
But as I lean against him, I smell him. I like just being in our separate universes, side-by-side, arm-in-arm. If we all live alone, I want my aloneness next to his.
And there are moments, minutes, little pieces of time when we are not alone, but know each other’s thoughts and there is no hindrance to our complete understanding of each other. All of sudden, there are bridges between us — even if they are made of spiders’ webs — and we cross them bravely because to know someone is joy.


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