I know. I disappeared for a while. The last I posted I was still in Colorado, and that feels like many moons ago, though it was not even three. I am in Texas, which surprises me even now. It is a decision that felt right when the idea came to me at some point while I was still in Colorado, but the route to get here was different than I’d planned, and my best friend and her cat have rejoined me and the boys again. Yet, here I sit, parked in a beautiful location with the kindest of friends hosting me. I am right on a river. The ground rolls away from Knight, gently falling into green reflections that carry away troubling thoughts when I allow myself to let go of them long enough to be caught up in the slow-moving current. I am not always successful, holding on with a grip that belies my desires. But I am learning. I think. I hope. Learning to occasionally release my habitual mind from its deeply ingrained patterns. When that happens, I truly feel free.
I’m not sure why I needed to disappear for a while. It wasn’t entirely planned, and I didn’t think my silence would last so long. All I can say is that I felt the need to crawl into myself for a time.
It’s strange being back in Texas. I spent ten years in this general vicinity. With this visit, I’m being given the gift of a colorful autumn. In all the years I lived here, I don’t ever recall seeing as colorful a fall as the one I’m seeing now. Since I’ve returned to central Texas, I’ve retread old haunts and stomping grounds. I’ve been pulled back into nostalgia one moment, only to ricochet into recognition of how much I’ve changed since leaving here.
Austin still holds a bit of an allure for me, as a visitor. The explosion of vegan-friendly eateries astounds and delights me, even though I’ll likely only hit a small handful while I am here. I have already indulged in delicious vegan pizza and buffalo “wings” that were so close to the texture (from what I recall) of the real thing—including a strip of jicama for the bone—that it was almost disturbing. I went to a vegan deli and cheese shop. I was so excited by the prospect of this place, only to leave incredibly disappointed in the vibe, as well as ridiculously lighter in the wallet to boot, and still hungry. I’ve been giddy in the discovery that the co-op here rivals, if not surpasses, the one back in Urbana, Illinois. And that’s hard to do. It’s the first co-op that has done so on this journey thus far. I sank down deep into the comforts of a hot oat milk latte and a comfy chair by the window at one of my favorite coffee shops in my old neighborhood. And I’ve briefly perused the shelves of an independent bookstore that still feels like home. I dive into the hustle and bustle of Austin, get my fill for a few hours, and then escape.
I escape the dizzying energy of the city to the calm of the land where I am staying, in a town that has surprised me in the open and friendly nature of its residents. This I did not expect at all, and the experience warms the heart. I make my way back to the quiet dead-end street where my friends’ house sits on the river and is surrounded by trees. I am filled with gratitude for the generosity they have given so easily. My initial intent, when offered the option to stay, was to do so only briefly while I sorted out what was next. But then opportunities arose for pet sitting for the neighbors for two trips spaced two weeks apart and some finishing work on my friends’ garage. Three weeks later, I’m still here, because of their continued welcome, which I hope I do not inadvertently overstay.
When I began this RV journey one year and four months ago, I did not know what was in store for me. I had hoped for adventure. I got it. But I was also seeking something. I’m not entirely sure what. Myself maybe. Seeking the me who is not afraid to be me. The me who accepts myself and others where they are at. The creative self who does not fear revealing her work. The self who does not feel inadequate. Lacking.
Since I began this RV journey, I have been asked consistently about how I make money on the road. It seems I am asked that question more than any other single question. I hate that question. What we do to make money seems often to define to others who we are and whether we are a success or a failure. I worked two full-time jobs for a time in order to not have to work for a while when I began my travels. I wanted to focus on learning the traveling and living in an RV bit. I wanted to focus on finding out what I wanted to do next with my life. I had a sense I wanted to write, but I didn’t know what, and I was scared as hell for others to read my writing.
When I was young, I wrote all the time. I kept a journal beginning at age 8. But I also wrote creatively. I would write in spiral notebooks or on napkins or scrap pieces of paper. Sometimes just phrases or ideas. Sometimes scenes that popped into my head. I kept my writing hidden, and eventually, I just quit writing creatively. I got the idea that using my intellect was more important and the way to become “successful.” Not from my parents. I’m not exactly sure how I got that idea, really. I just know that somewhere along the line, I came to believe that being creative was not good enough for this world. I now think it’s what we need more of. It’s the most important thing. We are creative souls, and to make art (even in the quiet of your own room, with the door closed and for no one else to see or hear or read) is to reveal your soul, to know who you really are. But in a world where people keep the television on or keep glued to their devices in order to avoid keeping company with their innermost selves, we risk losing entirely our relationship with our deepest selves. With our humanity.
It is my hope that someday in the near future my creative soul will mesh with what this world requires to put food on the table and keep me out here living a simple and quiet life in our country’s spectacular landscapes and connecting with the rich diversity of humans and other animals. I still would rather hear people ask, “What is the most moving place you’ve seen?” or “What is it like to live the kind of life where everything you own fits in a 30’ house on wheels?” or “What was your most memorable meeting of a stranger?” or anything else that gets to the heart of why I live the way I do or how I currently see my place in this world I inhabit. I might be broke. I might have to clock in, in some form, to a job in the near future (unless my book sales suddenly skyrocket or some other miracle occurs…but, hey, I’m not one to count either of those out!), but I’m all the richer in all the important ways for the experiences I am having on this journey mine.
Until next time (which will, I hope, not be so long from now)…