on the road. part I. {warning :: wee bit of skin showing in this one}

We used to take off all the time. Some people might have called it running. Or running away.  But we called it freedom.  Because when we cut through the air in that pick-up truck, sunroof open and windows down, we finally had tangible proof that we were alive and breathing with a million choices at the place our toes touched the tip of the gas peddle.  

Sushi hand rolled in the cooler.  Big bag of tamari pumpkin seeds between us.  Apples, always a ton of apples. Jugs of water. Green tea. A few big splifs rolled for the ride. A few more for wherever we landed.  Sometimes a thermos of mushroom tea {*never sip while en route, lesson learned}. Loose leaf tobacco. Endless hours of mixed tapes.  Because it was tapes back then.  And there were books that I would read out loud to us when he drove.  Because he liked my voice and so did I. 

We were pre-millennial rebels, spiritual gangsters, and seekers.  We cast aside the idea that we had to be somewhere and do something.  That our educations were useful to us and that any job could ever fulfill us. We were born that way and I don’t think either one of us ever dared deny ourselves or each other that path, not that we wanted to.  But certainly there were people in our lives who hinted that we should settle down and root in somewhere and maybe stop all the movement and adventures. There were people in our lives who wished we made different choices. Certainly we carried guilt and shame around this path, it did't look exactly right on two over-educated highly skilled early to late twenty-somethings.  It didn’t look like we were working hard at anything but being dreamers and floaters and flounderers. But we were. We were working our asses off at being exactly who we were. Cultivating our truest kind of self. 

I think when we met eachother it was a sigh of relief because we finally found understanding, the ache we both had to stay unattached to anything felt famliar.  We had found another ourself, a twin, the water to the fire along with a side of smoke and steam.   Our meridian paths lined up and we often created our united road map from them, laid like mirrors against each other, tracing adventure with our fingertips.  Shiny. Smudged. Always with risk of a shatter, of course.  Sometimes too hot to touch. And sometimes the glass melted into liquid version of the Page of Cups {reversed}. And sometimes it froze and created an ice wall. But those are stories for another time to tell.

We were our best when we hit the road. Healthiest. Kindest. Sexiest. We were beyond ourselves, reaching out to give whatever we could to the world.  And we’d go anywhere. LA to Wyoming.  Tahoe to NY.  Reno to New Orleans. Idaho to LA again.  We were most comfortable on the road.  And we weren’t hotel people. Not ever.  We’d just assume sleep in the back of truck.  But camping is where we felt the most at home.  Against the river.  Along the cliffs of central California coast. The woods of the Adirondacks. The swamplands of the south.   Hot springs anywhere we could find them.  We road tripped and camped more than we lived in any one place.  Because it was who we were.  Him and me and those 2 incredibly hairy dogs that eventually came along too.  We did this for years and years.  It was an act of self cultivation, of self love, of longing, and of receiving. 

And then what.

We got married and had kids.  And then more kids. And shit.  The jumping in the car and exploring thing kind of stopped.  There were jobs to go to and money to save and exhaustion to deal with. There were preschools to pay for and all that god damn local organic food.  There were kids who never slept and kids who couldn’t sleep outside our bed.  There were pancakes and eggs in the morning.  There were those slimy little baby carrots in the afternoon.  And you know in that moment when you finally land on the other side of where you had been and said fuck this. Enough is enough? Because there really is more {or less} than this?  And we need to just get free again by being together.  That our family values are about being together, hitting the road, wheels rolling on concrete and dirt and brick.  Surely we don't value all work and no play. We were a family and it felt like even though all the kids are so young, the demands of life and the needs that had to be met were disjointing the gorgeousness that we birthed so many years ago. The promises + vows we made on the moss field about who we would be to all of us seemed to become ash, a memory of the past. So we realized it was simple. Either some hard core therapy or take a long roadtrip. We hit the road. 

And so with little plans and little money and a borrowed tent big enough for our growing family, we headed out of town this summer to remember what it felt like to be lulled and soothed by the rhythm of the road. To let the bumps jump start conversation.  To be in silence listening to radiolab. To tell each other stories about back in the day or the fantasy of the future.  To pee on the side of the highway.  To go from rainforest to California desert to wine country and back again. To find a spot in time when there is nowhere to be but where we are. No phone calls. No emails. No agenda, really.  Windows down. Reggae on. Three wild and smiling little girls squealing from the back.  Eating gross ice cream bars I bought from the gas station, because what else could be better than a corn syrup filled goody before a 6-hour stretch before we hit cougar hot springs, our first stop. {Actually our VERY first stop was here which is my heaven, old people's steak houses make me so happy spumoni ice cream and all}.  

Cougar Hotsprings aka Terwilliger Hot Springs is tucked deep in a river valley just outside of Eugene, OR.  We landed there late night, pitched our tent in the total darkness and rain against the manic conversation of the rushing river and the water that was falling into it.  As we all got settled into the tent, him at one end, all three of them in the middle, and me at the other, the youngerst whispers "this is the happiest day of my life". 

Layers of time washed away.  The water hot as hell. But we needed to get a little boiled.  To let the steam carry away the time that has served us, well or not, but served us.  And it's job was done.  And so we watched it move into waves of leftoverness. The heat melted off what was keeping us back.  And especially for him, it melted away tension and stress, all the masks and archetypes he held close to get everything done in the contracts he felt bound to.  We all got energetically undressed. Naked and seen. Unsigned. Freed.  Safe. Held by the warm waters.

Hotsprings are a womb.  In the middle of a wet forest with rain on continous stream, they not only wash away  layers, they also fertilze the seeds of growth.  They catch and plant.  The  open pores so we can say yes to what's next.  They are warmth and comfort and forgiveness. They are skin on skin.  Quiet on quiet.  Waterfall play.  There is a knowing that we are completely cared for,  even when it feels like we've been dropped from a cliff, from a planet far, far away.  There is a sinking in, a sighing out of home. Always. Home. 

Stress can literally tear people apart, cause cancer, strangle the breath out of the soul. Stress can pull to opposites ends, wear them down, make them want to run away. From the world. Themselves. And sadly, from eachother. Somehow we refuse this.  We look it in the eye, like it's a ravishing jaguar in a dark closet and we say: yeah, well, fuck off. We will beat that notion down with an iron bat.  We will walk light. We will name our heart Open and Soft. And here we we will be baptised.  As indivduals. And Whole.  And the water sucked our bones and muscles and blood clean of stress and tension and doubt. We were dipped into salvation.  We were saved. On the road, we took the wind and water into our hearts. And we were saved.