In 1976, my dear friend, Joanie, and I, decided to quit our jobs, put the little we had in our parents basements and head out on an adventure, West. We were young and looking to find ourselves somewhere in the United States. We borrowed Joan’s mother’s Buick, a huge gas guzzling car, and cashed in the retirement we had each accumulated while working for the City of Boston. Retirement seemed like a ridiculous notion at the ripe old age of 27. The first day on the road we drove from Boston to Philadelphia to make our inaugural stop at Joan’s brother’s house. About halfway there we looked at each other and said “What the hell are we doing?” This driving is not only boring, it’s winter and the weather is getting pretty sketchy. But we had a plan to find ourselves, hopefully in California, and that’s where we were headed. Given the weather, we continued south, laughing each day about how cold it was and how the driving was a real drag. We got as far as Texas, after a few great days in New Orleans. I had met a woman at a wedding the past summer and she lived in Houston. That seemed like a great stop. You know the routine, you meet someone and you tell them about your plans and they say, “If you’re ever in ……. stop in.” I imagine most people think you never will. Not us. Once we got to Houston and descended on this woman I hardly knew, we decided that we needed warm weather. Joan knew a woman from one of her past jobs who was vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and thought it would be a good idea to meet up with her. This was of course pre-cell phone and we had no way of getting in touch with this woman, but we bought plane tickets, asked my Houston “friend” if we could leave our car in her driveway, and took off. We thought we would be gone for a few weeks, sit on the beach, get a tan and head back to Houston to continue our journey of finding ourselves in California. That was in mid-January. We never did find Joan’s friend, but we did find a place to stay with two ex-pats and ended up staying until the beginning of April. By then we had given up on our plan to go to California and we flew to Houston, paid to have Joan’s mother’s car driven back to Boston, and
we flew home, happy, tan and ready to tackle the next adventure.
So, what did I learn? I learned that any adventure is ripe for the picking. Who knows where I might go, whom I might meet along the way and where I might find myself?
We left Maine a month ago with a plan. Writing and blogging was top on my list. Since we left I haven’t written a thing until now. I moved to being in the moment. I didn’t realize that this road trip would be such an inside job. I am doing lots of reflecting, laughing with the love of my life and learning what a diverse, sometimes scary, country we live in. We are moving slowly. It took us 3 weeks to get down the east coast. We ended up in Florida, which, much to my amazement is huge. We made our way out and we’re headed to New Orleans for Thanksgiving. Each day is an adventure. We have camped in state parks, KOA campgrounds, one was enough, some hotels , an Airbnb in Washington DC and with friends. We have cooked our meals, eaten out and had dinner at friend’s homes. We are really taking our time.
Some days I yearn for my women friends. I miss the conversations we have, the laughs, the tears, the intimacy. Some days I want to sell the van and fly to the west coast to see Jake, Mary and Julian and to Mexico to see my sister. Other days I love sleeping in the van in a beautiful state park and other days it feels good to sleep in a hotel or at a friend’s house. Through it all I reflect on my life and what’s to come. I don’t have any answers and I imagine I won’t but I will be open to whatever lies ahead. That works just fine for me. I continue to be filled with wonder and adventure.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I wish you all a wonderful and grateful time with family and friends. When I started this trip someone asked me what I hoped for. “To be in the moment. Plans are secondary, adventure is foremost.” Wherever I go I will be there and that’s just fine with me.
Stay in touch and I will too.
With love and gratitude,
3 thoughts on “The best laid plans…And other lessons learned on the road”
Marsha, I like your philosophy, it sounds like you and Steve are having a great adventure with every day new discoveries – life as it should be! Thanksgiving here with family was really special, though Thursday dinner was at Jess’s, Friday was here. It’s cold on Peaks today, 34, but sunny and lovely. Enjoy the warmth wherever you are!
Consider this adventurous idea: drive that thing across the Atlantic. jk, be safe & keep telling your stories!
We love you, miss you, and are grateful for your presence and influence in our lives. Chag Chanukah Sameach to both of you.
Thank you dear Tommy. I miss all of you. Hope the boys are thriving as I’m sure they are. Hope to be back in your neck of the woods next year.