Friday, July 17, 2009

Remapping Adventurous Terrain

I’ve gone to bed every night for the past month hoping I’ll wake up in a hotel room, preferably in 2007.

Flipping the calendar to the present month and failing to see a large segment of the squares blocked out for travel spawned this irrational wish and concomitant listlessness. The last time I was this desperate for adventure, it ended poorly, in the form of murder at a downtown Ethiopian restaurant .

It’s July, and according to my calendar, I’m only destined to cross the state line once, and that’s just to Maryland. And although the Maryland weekend is a long anticipated and indisputably joyous occasion (a belated graduation celebration with friends and family), it’s just not quite July-caliber on the excursion scale. Past Julys have seen me commune with wildlife in the southern hemisphere,

consume wild berries in a Maine forest,

consume ripe raspberries on a Northwest farm,

enjoy authentic cuisine on a Mexican construction site,

or, better yet, simply disappear into the heart of the country as I did for the entire month in 2007. Waking up to fresh adventures in different states every day—let’s just say I’d still be out there somewhere if August hadn’t summoned.

It’s been a few Julys—circa ‘05, I believe, since I last found myself largely home for the month. That year, I had decided to head off disappointment by adopting a vacation-at-home mentality in which I would do one new thing every day of the summer: I’d go to unfamiliar parts of town, experiment with unexplored buttons on my electronics, sample unfamiliar food. It was mere days, perhaps only hours into my home-style adventure mindset when Ethiopian cuisine emerged as my experience du jour, but to my surprise and chagrin, I couldn’t convince my family to gamble their dinner on Ethiopian fare. The menu I procured was shunned and historical facts about regional famine were cited; in short, it became clear that if I were to sample east African fare, it would be during a solo lunch.

Alas, by lunchtime the next day I received an I-told-you-so-style phone call from my husband. The Ethiopian restaurant, he reported, had been shut down in the wake of violence which erupted the previous evening. In my husband’s opinion, the resulting murder was a cautionary tale on straying too far outside the carefully patterned lines of safe, familiar, and ordinary. Although I am sure I did not agree, I can’t seem to recall much coming from my summer of the experimental. It’s almost as though the Ethiopian meal was some sort of prerequisite that lingered, perpetually unsatisfied.

Which brings me full circle to the current month. I toyed with the idea of Daily Random Adventures 2.0, but wound up retooling the whole package. See, I’m still all about embracing new experiences, whether I make a specific, daily, point of it or not. Perhaps that’s why I don’t have a lot of concrete memories of the ’05 experiment—they’ve just sort of melded into the general hodgepodge of craziness that I refer to as “normal.”

What I’ve come to realize is that the adventures I’m really supposed to be seeking right now are all about enhancing the lives of other people. So I’ve made it a point to volunteer for a few more things than I typically might (or had time to, during my Academic Phase.) I’m taking some risks, picking up the phone and not know what I might find myself into. I’ll going outside my comfort zone, too, all next week when I set the alarm for 5:45 so I can do crafts with inner city kids. I’m switching it up the following week, devoting my evenings to dabbling in the art scene at my church’s VBS. I’m looking beyond what will give me my daily thrill, and finding that I get it anyway.

So I guess you can say that I’m blocking out the second half of July ’09 as a home-based mission trip. I may wake up in my own bed each morning, but I’ll be traveling beyond the borders of my own interests. I’m stretching my definition of adventure, and discovering that it was too narrow anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Adventures, like miracles, are all around. You just have to "see" them.



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