The other day I was sitting on my perch by the pool, atop the little grassy hill where I try to keep an eye out for both kids while I tan, socialize, and listen to podcasts.
Now, Eugene is a small town and while I sat there looking conspicuous, a mom friend wandered by to say hi, and announce that she was feeling quite relieved her dad came out of bypass surgery that day.
As I was digesting this, another woman stopped by to sit down. Her daughter was going to live with the other parent. It wasn’t wanted by mother or child. But sometimes strangers are in charge of these things. She was having a difficult time finding appropriate housing in the new town, hoping to be nearer. It wasn’t working out. Yet her home and job here in town were almost done. Time was ticking.
Many parts of this story should have ended in panic. Instead she said: “When do you get the chance, as an adult, to just drift?”
Really. Since college, when have you had the divine privilege of not having anywhere to be by 8:00 p.m.? Without a mortgage to back up your adulthood and strap you in place? Without this monthly outstanding bill to work off from the day the month starts ticking? It’s not a bill that allows you to *do* anything, mind you. It just allows you to stay put and keep going. On the couch. Watching t.v. (Going out to eat is another bill). This bill promises to offer you the elusive gift of stability.
But that’s the thing. Amidst all our custody hearings and bypass surgeries, what if that stability never materializes?
I went home that night and discovered that a high school acquaintance had dropped dead at 39 of a ruptured aneurism.
When, really, do we get the chance to drift?
What stability can we really offer?
My grandfather, who also died recently, is famous for saying, “Your ticket is punched when you come into this world.”
And so I have spent the past few days worrying a lot about what would happen, and how I would feel, if I didn’t drift before that ticket gets called in. If what I created by staying was less than I anticipated it would be, less than the sum of its parts.
We’ve spent the better part of this spring looking for stability, for a house where we could stay for years, raise kids, and stay put.
But there is really no staying put.
We’re lucky when we get these rare chances to drift with the stream. So here we are. Alice and I are hitting the road this fall. We’re backpacking through Europe, blogging about it with no obligations and no expectations, other than to have seen what we are supposed to see before our tickets get called in. Please feel free to travel alongside us.