Thursday April 29 2021

Nearly a month away from home

Below is a collection of my thoughts, upon returning to work after taking a bit of time off, and being nearly a month away from my home in New Hampshire.

It’s a somewhat rough stream of conscientiousness I’ve pared down slightly.

Planning

It wasn’t planned, really. There was no year-long isolate the details kind of thing. Just a few months ago a friend casually mentioned that I should come along on a trip they were going to be taking to Zion national park in April.

I don’t really like the idea of flying. So of course I planned on driving driving my 22 year old car. I figure I’ll take off the 3 days before and 3 days after the two week block I’m going to be out in Utah to make the driving easier.

Before I knew it, more people decided they wanted to come out too, they were all added to the group, and as the date drew closer I became much more excited. One of the friends who lived near me also decided he wanted to go, riding along in my tiny two seat car.

On the road

As the date approaches so my excitement increases, though I had never met some of these people in person, I knew they shared my values and I was able to connect with them so well online–it almost seemed like nothing could go wrong–but I was worried about it nonetheless.

Just an hour or so after I get on the road, I notice that my voltage gauge had dropped down to 12v. “Well shit, that’s not good.” I said aloud. I pull over a couple of miles later and check the belts, they all look good, it’s daylight and I’m only a few hours away from Massachusetts , I figure I’ll get an alternator when I’m down there and replace it on the road.

Well, I get down there alright, but a number of the stores do not have alternators, I call around and eventually find one that does have it, but I’m going to get there a couple minutes after they close. Good thing my friend was able to place the order on the phone, one of the guys was able to get it to us on his way out of the store for the night.

After about an hour and a half of working at it I’m finally able to get the new alternator installed. The car doesn’t want to start at first, but after a bit of time on the jumper cables we we were able to get it to start back up and charge.

It’s late, so I get a room for the night, but at least the car is running fine again and it didn’t cost us too much time on the way out.

The next couple of days are uneventful, just a lot of driving, music, podcasts–and wind noise of course, It’s an old convertible after all.

Zion

So it’s been a few days out in Zion, most of us are staying in a rental house.

There’s something about it, when I was cooking all of the steaks–whenever you cook a great meal for people, and they enjoy it seeing the delight in their eyes, the occasional praise and the curiosity for how you’ve done it–it’s quite special even if many consider it simple and mundane.

It’s odd too I honestly don’t even like cooking all that much. I don’t know how to cook very many things either. I’d rather not do it at all, but I can’t really stomach raw eggs by themselves, and chewing raw steak is too much work.

For those who know me well, you know my mother never cooked despite saying home to “raise” me. ( Rather, just ignored, belittled or yelled at me. )

It was quite amazing, here were eight of us all getting along, even if we had disagreements we talked about it, reasoned through it, and came to agreements. The entire time, not even a single raised voice.

The emerald pools were something else, not just because of the destination, but because of all the great conversation, the playful attitude that we all had, being able to just jump on a rock, across a stream, lay under a tree, take photos and the like.

Why is it that so many adults have lost this playful attitude?

I don’t think they lost it really, I think they were broken. Broken by horrendous parents, families, sometimes Churches, and, government schools.

The TV was only ever touched to share some of the photos and videos we captured. A stark contrast form the distraction tool it’s used as in the lives of so many, as it was for my mother and father during my childhood as well.

For a brief moment, Zion was a home, but we don’t live there–and that’s now faded only to live on in our memories and be evidenced by our photographs.

Getting a call

In an odd twist of events. I ended up getting a call from someone else while I was out on vacation in Zion. That coupled with my friend getting a flight home has made it easy for me to spend a week out here in Colorado with them where I’m writing this shadow of Pike’s peak.

In a way it almost seems like something divine, what are the odds that someone else who’s on my way back will reach out to me?

We get along well, but they’ve not yet cast off the chains that bind them. I will see in time when I leave this place if they will cast them off to join us in the future.

What does it mean to know someone?

When you take part in an online community, get to know people over text, voice and video chat–can you really say that you know and understand the person? Perhaps, if they’re being genuine–but–how do you know?

First, throw out text. It’s fine for exchanging information, and great for communicating with people you already know and trust but it doesn’t help you get to really know someone

Audio only calls are good, you’ll get the vocal inflections and their emotional state for the most part. It’s much harder for someone to hide their emotions.

Obviously video chats are going to be better, you’re at least getting some of the facial expressions even if eye contact is odd because of camera placement.

The real key here though, is to not go it alone. Gather thoughts and opinions of these people from others as well. You are not infallible and people can often pick up on things you won’t. Listen to them and ask questions don’t just move on. If you feel that you should move on and ignore their warning, or thoughts, consider that something you should know about yourself and be curious as to why you’d want to do that.

These are not things that I have come to entirely on my own. They’re a combination of the thoughts of those around me and my own bitter experience meeting some terrible people in the past when I failed to vet them properly.

What is home? Do I miss it?

Home, home, is ultimately where my friends–my chosen family is. It’s been hard in a sense, being so far away. When I moved to New Hampshire last year I had no idea what was in store. I moved to save some money, to help out a friend and see what I could do in a new area

Little did I know what was to come. I helped another friend move within couple of months, a few months later another one decided to move out. A few months after that and two more decided they were going to make their way out as well.

It’s been quite the change, all of us had left (most) of our old social circles behind for one reason or another–or to build the one they never had.

Having a social circle was nothing new to me. But having one like this? One where you’re challenged to take on and confront your inner demons–to find that the demons were there to protect you in childhood and figure out why they’re there and how they’re actually trying to help you? Now that’s something you can’t find just anywhere.

To be free of all the little snarky remarks, the passive aggression, the loaded sighs, screaming, yelling, gaslighting, or the hostile silence. Not only that, but if we ever get even remotely close to that we’ve pulled each-other aside minutes afterwords to discuss how we were feeling and to try to understand what was going on for one another. It’s been so unbelievably liberating to see this in action when I thought it was just a dream that people could be normal–to think I thought the old TV shows of happy families were unrealistic–when in-fact, they’re the only real way to conduct one’s self.

It’s not just an, “Oh well we can all get along on a vacation” thing. After living it for over six months now, it really is a “we can get along if we try” thing. ( Blink 182’s Stay together for the Kids is running through my head now… ( we get along, so why can’t they? ) )

I’m so thankful to all of them for the help they’ve been to me. I just hope that I’ve been of some help to them as well.

For all of the people I’ve met on this trip, I hope those of you who can will join us. For those who cannot, I hope you’re able to find this kind of connection in your lives.