So I’m going to write a little series about how the last two years of taking motorhome road trips with J and The Boy have really salved my long aching soul.
I know…*dramatic.* But true.
The lyrics to the chorus of Eric Hutchinson’s song, Bored to Death, are:
“Take me out
It’ll only get better.
Take me out
Got a long way to go.
Make it count
‘Cause I wanna remember
What it feels like
To keep a satisfied soul.”
So that’s what I’m writing about for the next couple of posts.
I’ve been called an ‘old soul’ fairly often by people of all ages for most of my life. I take it as a compliment. But part of the harsh reality of being an old soul is the constant feeling that you’ve seen all this shit before and you desperately want to see some new shit. It’s hard to satisfy the hunger of an old soul. Today’s post is going to be about how long I’ve wanted to travel to and see and feel and experience many of the places we’ve gone for the past two years. I might be an old soul, but I’m pretty young at heart.
When I was a little girl, I loved watching cartoons. Warner Brothers. Tex Avery. Hanna-Barbera. Disney. I’ve written about this before. I still love cartoons, particularly those classics, even in all their modern problematic glory. Because I can find the teachable lesson in the problematic ones. Anyway…back when I was a kid, I loved this guy.
I know he’s the bad guy, but he’s funny. It was and still is hilarious watching him get trolled and pranked and railroaded by Bugs Bunny. He’s such a sore loser. I still crack up at that one cartoon where he’s a knight with a dragon trying to invade the fortressed medieval town Bugs Bunny lives in and he demands Bugs open the drawbridge over the moat and then when Bugs smashes him with it, he screams, ‘Close it! Close it! Close it!’
The Boy thinks I’m nuts.
Anyway, I found out in elementary school that Yosemite Sam was named after a real place. And I wanted to go see it. But I never got a chance to. My parents would never travel to a National Park, particularly one in California. Too far away.
I liked this guy too.
Boy did I want to go to Jellystone Park. I wanted to see the bears. Especially Yogi, because he was smarter than the average bear, and I’ve always had a thing for smart fellas. I found out Jellystone was based on a real place too…Yellowstone. And it really did have bears. And other animals. And geysers. And waterfalls. And a big lake. And canyons. And snowcapped mountains even in the summertime. But again…wilderness and nature…too far away…
And of course…
On this one, not only did I get ‘too far away,’ I also got ‘you won’t even like it.’
“It won’t be as good as you think it will be, Jen.”
So I just quietly dreamed about seeing and experiencing these places (and lots of other ones) beyond television and books and pictures and stories from other kids’ (and eventually adults’) travels, and never was really convinced that I wouldn’t like those places. That they wouldn’t be as good as I imagined they’d be.
Then J took us to Disneyland 6 years ago and I found out that, at least when it came to Disneyland…I was right. I loved it. It was every bit as magical as I thought it’d be as a kid…maybe it was even better.
And then my kid got interested in National Parks and wildlife and ecology and conservation and we saw Yosemite and Yellowstone. AND Joshua Tree and Sequoia and Zion and Badlands and Dinosaur and Mount Rushmore and The Smokys and The Rockies. And they ARE amazing. In fact…the cartoon namesakes and parody versions paled in comparison to the real thing. I did like them. I loved them.
What my parents essentially told me was that they didn’t want to make plans to get to and pay for trips to these places to satisfy my juvenile soul. That’s fair, at least the economic part. I wish they would have just told me honestly that they couldn’t afford it. Or that my dad was afraid to fly and they couldn’t get enough time off work to drive there. Or even just that they didn’t want to drive that far or they wouldn’t like those places. Words matter to me, and what they said was that those places weren’t worth their time or investment. Them telling me I wouldn’t like it at those places was really them projecting their own feelings on to me. THEY wouldn’t like them. Nature and childlike joy and magic and wilderness and wonder doesn’t satisfy THEIR souls. Those things didn’t satisfy them then and they don’t satisfy them now, when they can afford to go wherever they’d like and are retired and have all the time they need off work. My dad isn’t even afraid to fly anymore. But those things would have and still do satisfy MY soul.
I feel like a kid again when I’m at those places. So much so that sometimes The Boy, who is eleven, remarks on how childlike I am there. ‘Mom, I think you’re the most childlike person in our group.’ And our trips there renewed me enough to kickstart new writing projects. Which is something I desperately needed. I was in a funk. I admit this. Everything I wrote felt stale and I was stagnating in a lack of motivation and no working executive function. My soul was extremely dissatisfied.
J took me out. It did get better. We went a long way. We made it count. And now I remember what it feels like to keep a satisfied soul. Something I didn’t feel until I met J.