I had an adventure yesterday. I went to the grocery store.
Yes, that makes me laugh, too. But it sure felt like an adventure. Strange roads, following my GPS, managing the parking lot and running the generator and air-conditioner for the dogs, roaming the aisles of an unfamiliar store. I actually also stopped at a farm stand, run by a woman in Amish clothing, where I bought shallots and a squash and a cantaloupe.
I thought about going to a museum. According to Roadtrippers, the Agricultural and Industrial Museum was right down the road from the grocery store. (My Internet is so slow that I’m having trouble testing my links: apologies if those don’t work the way they should.) It felt like it would be virtuous to go to the museum, like it was something I should do.
But while I waited for my GPS to give me directions, I remembered two things. First, I’m not a tourist. My goal with living in Serenity is to have a simpler, more flexible life, not fill up my brain with factoids and miscellaneous places. I’m sure it’s a cool museum, but there’s no inherent virtue in adding another random place to my collection of inaccessible memories. Second, “should” is not the same as “want to.” When I took that mental step back, I realized that I’d really rather go back to the campground and sit under my awning and knit and think about Grace.
So I did.
Alas, nasty little stinging flies were chewing on my legs, so I didn’t last outside all that long. It lacks romance to admit that I retreated inside and hung out in the air-conditioned van for the rest of the day, but I did my Insta-Pot experimenting, some knitting, texted with friends, wrote a little and thought about resistance a lot.
If I was camping — say, on my one-week summer vacation from an office job, due back at work on Monday — I’d feel guilty for my wasted day. I could have been outside. I could have been kayaking. I could have been exploring the battlefields of Gettysburg, soaking in the history and tragedy of my location. But living in a camper is not the same as camping, and it wasn’t a wasted day.
In fact, today I think I will do pretty much the same thing. At the moment I’m sitting outside, listening to the noise of the bugs — so incredibly loud, beyond chorus levels and into rock symphonies — and watching the occasional wildlife. I’ve seen a chipmunk, so cute, squirrels and birds. I heard a big splash in the water, which gave me an instant surge of adrenaline before I remembered that murky water + splash doesn’t equal alligator in Pennsylvania. No idea what the splash was, but probably fish of some sort, since I didn’t see a bird. The flies are biting but not as badly as they were yesterday when it was hotter and I was sweatier.
My big adventure for today might be walking the dogs up to the field with the animals and seeing whether the brown creature I caught a glimpse of yesterday when I was driving in really is a baby alpaca.
Yesterday, I was joking with my friend Tim about facing the challenge of the grocery store. The thing is, going to the grocery store did feel like a challenge. I had to pack up Serenity for driving, unhook her from the electric and water, dump her tanks at the “sanitation station”, navigate unfamiliar roads, start the generator to run the AC to keep the dogs cool, check on my alert system for a temperature reading inside the van, park more carefully than I did… (I really need to remember that Serenity is tall — I again scraped her roof along trees, alas.) But it was exciting. And it was fun.
And I realized that I’m accomplishing (almost) exactly what I was vaguely, incoherently, hoping to accomplish. I’ve turned my life into an adventure, where even the small challenges, like going to the grocery store, require an eyes-wide-open approach, an appreciation of where I am and exactly what I am doing. My heart is beating. It’s a wonderful feeling.
It’ll be even better when I’m also writing again regularly. And that is going to happen. Maybe even today.