So, no big deal, I have this plan to complete a sprint-distance triathlon on each of the Great Lakes over the summer when I'm not teaching and I have the time. So, no big deal, I realize the cost will be beyond what I'm willing to pay if I do real races, so I decide to plan and do my own thing. So, no big deal, I go to the humane society one day and I see a puppy I can't resist. In the meantime, I ignore my husband's gentle suggestions that perhaps this summer, THIS moment in time is not the BEST time for a puppy if I'm serious about finishing my Great Lakes goal. So guess what, there's a puppy and no more ability to pick up and travel and everything is crazy packed and chaotic and potty-training and how are we going to fit it all in?
In the words of one of my heroine's, Liz Lemon: BLURG.
Two weeks left in summer and I have to cram Lake Ontario in somewhere.
And, in the meantime, I am reminded by an event email that a couple of months ago I signed up for a tri in South Haven, Michigan. Uh-oh. For several days, maybe an entire week, I consider doing both. South Haven Saturday morning then drive to Toronto and do Ontario Sunday. If I were younger, yes. If I had just a teensy bit more time, maybe. If I had a friend to do all this crazy shit with, for sure. But, alone, 41, with a new puppy & kids starting school and a day before fall classes start. Oh. My. God.
So, instead, I invite my kid to come to Toronto with me, the surly 12-year-old, and we make it a bonding weekend, just me and my first born. And this comes at a good time. We needed it. In the day-to-day craziness of a busy life, it's possible sometimes to forget how much I like my kids, my family. Of course, I always know that I love them but I forget how enjoyable they are, what kind of unique people they are, with such individual qualities. They are not just MY KIDS, objects that I have to deal with, put somewhere, make sure are fed and clothed and bathed and have slept. They are these amazing little unique people.
But in the crazy hairpin turn of an overnight trip to someplace six hours away, it was only possible to get glimpses of that amazing little unique person, and glimpses that I occasionally let go un-noted. I was busy driving and navigating and paying for things and talking to border guards and trying to stay awake while I drove. He was a ridiculously patient and on-point co-pilot. He rose to the occasion. We had lots of wild and intense conversations and he said, more than once, "I love talking with you like this." And he can't possibly know how much that meant to me. And I tried, I tried, I tried to pay attention to all my first-born-baby-now-pre-teen is and says and does. I TRIED to take the time despite the lack of time.
So, we got my little tri experience out of the way. When we got home, I looked up synonyms for "bullshit" and "nonsense" and found the word "bosh" which means both those things but still manages to sound badass and awesome so that was the winner.
We were so wired when we arrived at our hotel Saturday night that we couldn't sleep and we spent a few minutes snuggled in bed flipping through the channels. We don't have TV at home, let alone (gasp!) in any of our bedrooms! So, you can imagine how fun and decadent the 12-year-old thinks it is to flip through channels in bed. We came across the movie Bring It On! (you know, the one about cheerleaders) and then... oh, lord help us, we couldn't help ourselves, we just had to watch it. We stayed up until 2am watching the entire movie -- Bring it On! -- even grinning and bearing through all of the commercials. I could barely keep my eyes open but I could also not fall asleep. We laughed and laughed and laughed. And we had lots to talk about. I felt a little bit like we were having a sleepover.
So... we were exhausted the day we experienced the city, then after a whole day in the city, we drove home. My level of exhaustion was, unsafe, to say the least. There is no way I should've been driving. THAT part was incredibly stupid. I was so tired, in fact, that I kept getting lost. We got lost about 7 times trying to get home and a 5.5 hour trip turned into a 7 hour trip. Blurg.
But, also on the way home, Estlin and I talked more and more and more. And he helped me make a list of things I needed to remember, things I learned on this trip. Here's the list:
1) Like Danny Glover, in Lethal Weapon, I am getting too old for this shit. Between the stressful driving, hairpin-return road trips, general discomfort of being on the road and not knowing where food and all other comforts are going to come from, it's just too much.
2) I only function well with good sleep -- and I never allow myself this (NOT luxury but...) necessity enough.
3) I function BADLY on bad fuel (namely, sugar and the other sugar: white bread). [Ironically, Dear Reader, we are on yet another road trip at this very moment to finish this Great Lakes Tour off up in Frankfort at Lake Michigan, and we were so desperate for lunch that I have just eaten Taco Bell for the first time in about 5 years. Estlin has just eaten Taco Bell for the first time in his life. Lucy has eaten at KFC for the first time in her life. It's fair to say this is bad fuel. Bad bad fuel.]
4) I hate being away from our whole family. I hate when our whole family is not together. It makes me uneasy and uncomfortable.
5) It is hard for me to admit this. I fancy myself to be a sort of risk-taker and daredevil to an extent but... I really like being at home. I really like being at home. I'm going to say it again one more time so that it sinks in: I really like being at home.
Why do we have to learn the same lessons over and over and over again? Why do I need to drive through Taco Bell and deal with the stress of a badly run drive-thru window and eat the crap I just paid WAY too much for -- when I know I know I know I know for certain that what I need is to simply pack my own lunch before I go so that I have something nutritious and awesome to eat? Why do I need to drive 12 hours to Canada and back in two days on almost no sleep to remember that I need good sleep and I like to be at home? Why do I need to pack my kid up and take him all the way to another city, another world really, to remember that he's awesome, he's fun, he's funny, he's clever, he's helpful, and he's super super cool. I just do, I guess. I just do. And I am grateful for the lessons when they come and I try to be gentle with myself for forgetting. Still, it's important to learn something at some point.
So, I had some crazy plans this weekend in celebration of International Mermaid Day on Sunday, September 6th... up to Frankfort, Tri in the morning (a full-throttle one -- still a DIYer but a real DIY-er), drive 4 hours down scenic M22 to Saugutuck, MI where there's a Mermaid Bar & Grill to celebrate the final stop on my tour, to celebrate the end of this, perhaps ridiculous, endeavor then drive 2.5 hours home that night. But I wish you could've seen the look of total relief on my husband's face when I said, "how about we just come back home after the Tri on Sunday instead of going all the way to Saugutuck. I'm going to celebrate in Frankfort, right at the end of my Tri, anyway -- and that's where I really want to be, what has the most significance to me. We can check that place out in Saugatuck some other time." It was like someone had just given him an injection of valium. All the stress melted away from his face, his shoulders, his chest and he smiled at me. "You're learning," he said. "Ya," I said, "don't get used to it."
I look forward to planning a trip back to Toronto. We'll all go. We'll take at least a whole week. We'll stay close enough to that park to take advantage of it every day. We'll visit Kensington Market frequently. We'll take our time so that we can get decent sleep, eat good things and enjoy ourselves. We'll do less. We'll have fun. We'll smile more.
I hope you're learning too, Teamies.