Friday, August 20, 2010

Road Trip Lag

I know. I still haven't written about the wedding or our trip out there and back. I really will.


I'm just not there yet.

As of today, we have been home for one week. One week. After 13 days on the road, we rolled back into our very own driveway last Friday at about 6:00 p.m. Home.

It has been unsettling. Neither Warren nor I were ready to be back here. We were numb. I still am. I feel as if I have been sleepwalking through the week.

I don't like feeling this way.

A few weeks before we left, in the hectic rush we called "July," I had accompanied Warren to the Cincinnati area for an evening rehearsal. He was playing percussion in a small orchestra down there (two hours away) that our conductor Jaime also conducts. I arrived hot (no AC in the car) and out of sorts. Sitting in air conditioned rehearsal area, I penned a blog post that never saw the light of day.

That post ran as follows:

My bags are too heavy. I am sitting in a rehearsal hall in Batavia, Ohio. I am blessedly cool after a warm, sticky day and a two plus hour drive down in the sun.

I am sitting here writing (longhand) on the notebook I brought along. It was hard getting the notebook and pen out of the small canvas bag into which I had packed them. It was a struggle because the bag was too heavy. Even though it is small and I was only lifting it from the seat next to me into my lap, it was a struggle all the same.

My bag is too heavy.

I have packed it too full. Rehearsals are almost three hours. So I'd put a water bottle in to get through the evening. And the notebook and pen. Well, four pens in case I had some huge pen crisis.

My keys, of course, my wallet (which is a little credit card holder and is only 3x4), and my phone. Also some acetaminophen and some antacids.

And three books - two hardcover (small) and one paperback (trade size). The hardcover books are short and I didn't want to finish reading one and be without something else to read.

Oh, and my appointment calendar (yes, I still keep a paper one) in case I needed to make an appointment sitting here 140 miles from home, from my computer, and with my phone turned off.

My bag is too heavy.

Small wonder. I packed it too full of "what if" items instead of those things I really need tonight.

I am also thinking about the bag in the car, the one in which I packed a brownbag supper for us to eat. As we approached Cincinnati, I planned to start handing out sandwiches. But first I had to move the bag from the back seat where it was wedged in on top of percussion equipment, to the front. To accomplish this maneuver, I had to take off my seatbelt, turn around on the seat on my knees, and s-t-r-a-i-n to lift the bag. Not because of where and how it was packed in the car, but because it - yep - too heavy.

The bag itself is very lightweight. It is large, a little bigger than the reusable shopping bags that everyone is carrying these days. I am always lulled into packing it fuller (and heavier) because of the extra space.

So in addition to the sandwiches, it held two bottles of water (mine), two cans of soda (Warren's), a bag of chips, and some snacks for the drive because Warren is always famished after a full rehearsal. Only because the bag "has room," I put in the whole sack of animal crackers (14 oz) and the whole box of Nutty Bars. I don't mean I opened the box, removed the contents, and placed them in the bag. I mean I put the whole cardboard box in. After all, there was room.

And let's not forget the ice packs in the bottom of the bag to keep things cool (the bag has a thermal lining). I could have gone with two small blocks, but the larger block fits nicely. Never mind the weight, there's room.

Needless to say, the bag was heavy. Very, very heavy.

I could have packed a smaller bag - or taken smaller portions - but there was room, so it all came along.

Warren worries about me helping carry his equipment because much of it is bulky and heavy. His stuff is nothing compared to my bags tonight. If the Donner party had set out with our supper bag, they never would have resorted to cannibalism.

As I sit here penning these words, my mind keeps returning to my carrying so much when, clearly, less would have done amply. I weighted myself down unnecessarily with extra books, extra ice packs, extra everything, as if we would be driving to a remote plateau tonight.

My bags are too heavy.

Lately, I have been feeling burdened and stressed. Too many days where our schedules don't meet, let alone blend. Too many loose ends that keep unraveling. All this tugs at my peace of mind. There are bills which need to be paid, some tricky scheduling to pull off before we hit the road, and more than my usual anxieties about, well, just about everything.

My bags are too heavy.

Like the lesson with tonight's bags - tangible, physical bags - where I am struggling to lift even the smallest one into my lap, I need to unpack my mental bags as well.

This is where my writing started to unravel. I never got back to the writing and it never got posted. But as I struggle to regain my equilibrium after our trip, I find the words haunting and relevant.

Warren and I email every day - just a short note to start the day - and my continuing mood post-trip has dominated my comments to him. I wrote:

I think the trip shook me up the most in showing me how much I have let slip (in terms of reflection, energy, forward movement, small moments) in the jumble and push of this year. We have both been moving at the speed of light all year long - especially with some of the Symphony issues - and the trip was (even though fast paced) a shock to the system. It was like a mirror - and I am not sure I liked everything I saw about myself and our life (the pace, the hectic qualities) in it. I feel as if I am sleepwalking right now. I want to be alive all the time, every moment, especially with you.

I think that says a lot of what I am feeling. Packed and hectic as it was, the trip nonetheless allowed both of us the chance to get outside of our routines and everyday persona. For me, that was a huge (and shocking) revelation of just how far I have crawled into a daily routine of just going through the motions. Yes, I am working, yes, I am keeping house, yes, I am tending to my marriage and my friends and my family, but am I really paying attention to what I am doing?

Am I really living?

As I finish this post, it is late Friday morning. The first jars of tomato sauce are in the canner (the gardens were a wreck by the time we returned, but there are always tomatoes). I'm finally getting some photos of the wedding up on Facebook. We have had yet another busy week: every night this week, one or both of us has had a meeting or other commitment. Liz is with us for the next two weeks, and she has her own appointments: band camp, scouts. Tonight the three of us are volunteering at a fundraiser because the sponsor is so understaffed that we felt bad and said we'd help out. Tomorrow morning starts the moving of the Symphony office.

In short, this week has been packed and booked to the gills. No wonder I am still feeling disoriented and jarred.

Somewhere there is a solution, and as is always the case, I strongly suspect it is within my grasp. I am not unlike Dorothy in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy begs Glinda to help send her home, Glinda replies, "you've always had the power to go back to Kansas." The Scarecrow demands to know why Glinda had kept this knowledge from Dorothy and she says, simply, "she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself."

I don't have Glinda to point out the obvious: my time and schedule are out of control. I don't have ruby slippers to click together and fix the problem.

I don't even have a humbug of a wizard to root around for a solution in his bag of tricks.

I just have myself. And Warren. And time.

Time to make the most of it.


Sharon said...

You don't need Glinda nor the wizard. You figured it out all on your own.

Funny, I've been forced to slow down recently as I've had an abscessed tooth which required oral surgery. It's the second day, and I must say, there is no relief yet. I'm impatient. I want to feel better so I can speed through my life.

Maybe I should just slow down and try to recouperate. Just like you need to do.

Once again, April, a very timely post...for me...thank you!

Anonymous said...

Like Sharon, I believe that you don't need Glinda. After all, you are in many ways, incredibly powerful, strong, resiliant. Love to you and Warren.