The image of home I hold in my heart is golden birch leaves falling, red bouquets of Devil’s Club dotting the driveway, and the wine scent of elderberry. I have been nervous and sad for days, anticipating our departure, riddled with questions. Have I made the right choice to go now in elegant autumn, as Michael settles back into Homer, anticipates winter’s interior warmth? As Jake finds his stride in school, embraces the mini-high school social and academic pressures? As I savor the stability of the gallery and the comfort of home? I often look around my environments thinking about how fortunate I am to have satisfying, soul-stirring work, and to have a lovely home and studio, and to live within my means, not clipping my dreams’ wings.
The freedom to fly, to flex my wings because I can is why I have pushed this peregrination…. Because I have seen the deeply empowering benefits of testing my strength against the unknown, especially in the past couple years as Michael completed his MFA in Milwaukee. I resented his decision to serve his own dreams until one day I saw that it served me, too. It served me to find my capacity to provide for myself and others. One day after work last winter I lay on the couch. A fire sparkled in the stove. Snow was thick on the ground. With my new $958 snow tires, I had climbed the icy hill home. Jake was reading, swinging in his hammock chair. I felt strangely elated, safe.
Now, we are flying forward in a fat tin chick. She is white and striped, 88,000 miles strong and 21 years old. She was born about the year I started working at Bunnell. Definitely dated, but totally functional with a two-hole sink and four-burner stove plus fridge, potty, bathroom sink and shower, and a newly upholstered dinette that converts to a twin bed. She boasts a new cherry laminate floor and birch-look cabinets. Best of all is her feathery nest—a cab-over full-sized bed with a temper-pedic topper and a down comforter. She is a land-yacht, a boonedock explorer eating up the road at a noisy 60 mph.
Michael observes the preponderance of blue without complaint. This chick is a rainbow of blues… Dark blue totes and blue upholstery, walls painted powder blue, like the soft lining of a cloud. He even encouraged me to hang a couple small bluish paintings, snow scenes I’ve been obsessed with of late. They are mirror images: a blue meadow of snow rimmed with trees beneath a pinkish white evening sky; and a white snowfield running into grey shadows and blue trees beneath a blue evening sky. All this blue is to me a calm backdrop for hours of boisterous home school each day on the road. If it weren’t a serene stage for the constant disarray of sweatshirts and teacups, schoolbooks and sneakers I would feel fascistic in my aesthetic autocracy.
I have rode most of the first 600 miles a bit loose in the saddle, jumping up for cups of tea and peanut butter sandwiches. At present, I am sitting on one of two pink yoga mats which provide a bit of traction and warmth, leaning into the space between the only two legitimate seatbelts holding Michael and Jake. My cold feet resist the rattle of the cabin door. As it promised, motor home living so far is shaky and exciting.
Jake climbs out of the driver’s seat slurking through the narrow channel to the top of the blue-bossy bus. “Mom, you haven’t cuddled with me yet up there!” he shouts over the road rattle, pointing to the cab-over loft. So we climb in beneath the comforter. Want me to read to you what I’m writing? “Yes!” I’m dragging the computer again, and I read to him my journal thus far. “Did you study writing in college mom?” he asks, grinning. Yes, but long before that – when I was about your age I started to love writing, just like you. "Well, if I wrote something I think it would be an adventure story. Not really a journal, but realistic fiction that takes place in Afghanistan. " Would you like Michael’s computer to be right up here next to mine, and you can write too? “Yes!” So here we are, side by side in the bunk, shaking down the Al-Can, tapping in time.