Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vagabond Summer, Part 2

(You can read Part 1, explaining how & why we rented out our home, here)

Summer arrived and we moved through the last week of preschool, shedding only a few tears as our boy walked out in his orange grad cap and proudly took his diploma. We said our goodbye to teachers and friends, before cramming in our last minute packing and to board the Saturday night red eye to Cleveland. We set up the lockbox, did a final sweep of our home, and shut the door, knowing we wouldn’t be home again for more than six weeks. 48 days. Our son cried. Our daughter looked at us in confusion. We piled into our friends’ van and set off for the airport.

Beside our gate, flight 1999 for New Orleans board, while Prince ran through my head. Along with a never-ending reminder than I wouldn’t be home again for a month and a hald.

We arrived in Ohio weary and shell shocked. My inlaws cheerfully picked us up to hand off a car, ensuring we had breakfast before we launched into a whirlwind of friends, family and summer fun. My phone camera promptly died, leaving me with very little documentation of our travels.


We moved on. We met our newest nephew, the kids chased lightening bugs and played with their cousins. They snuggled aunts and uncles and grandparents. We took a side trip to Kentucky to visit Joe’s grandma, with a rather complicated overnight stay involving three hotel rooms, dirty underwear (not ours) and a wrong booking date. We barbequed and played in mud and jumped on trampolines. We saw friends old and new. Our son went to his very first baseball game. Ten days passed so quickly we barely found our footing before we were off again.

Off to where? We didn’t know. Our flight would land in Los Angeles at 10pm and our friends/neighbors would pick us up for the night. But come morning, Joe would need to go to work and we had no place to sleep. Down below, our renters would be settling into our home, while we would sleep on air mattresses.

Yet as surely as everything else fell into place, a facebook post brought us to a friend – an friend of a friend, really. Someone we’ve met and enjoyed yet never quite become regular companions. They were out of town and would their home suit our needs? Instead of living out of hotels, we were invited to spend a week at a home with more space than we even dream of having. The kids had toys, a backyard with a trampoline, and a very sweet pet cat. We rested, regrouped and repacked.

This home is one of those places that radiates with peace. We felt welcomed, wanted, loved, even in their absence. On their walls, amid silly, smiling pictures and verses from the scriptures, they have a family mission statement. It stirred something in me. What was our mission? What was our purpose as a family? What did we stand for? In the early, pre-kid years of our marriage, we had a mission statement. But our family, and our vision, had changed. I needed to know how. Maybe that was the purpose of this vagabond summer? To find purpose!

At last, the time came to strike out for Oregon. We juggled luggage and strapped a roof rack to the car. We filled the space under feet and between seats. We loaded in and took off. We had stops in places like Kettleman City, Shasta Lake, Corning and Grants Pass. We ate at local restaurants and played Daddy Bear. We reached the last real rest stop before Portland and enjoyed the free coffee provided by a local church. Our kids were sweet and adorable and such troopers, even after two days strapped into car seats without a single screen to entertain them. They jumped on hotel beds and ate more sweets than is good for them. They saw farmland give way to hills and mountains and the parched, sunburned vista of Central California morph into the lush forests of Oregon. Our conversations were good, deep. It felt like a whole different world opening before us.


(And here we are at the end of Part 2, not even in Portland yet. More to come...)

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