“An adventure,” I explained to my daughter who was then 4, “is when you get up in the morning and you’re not even sure where you’ll be sleeping that night.”
The darkness of the pre dawn sky suggested that perhaps we hadn’t even finished the night of sleep at hand as we boarded the noisy cargo plane, my daughter clutching her stuffed Elmo and me embracing dreams of the European trek on which my little family had embarked.
My husband and I were making good on a promise we made to each other when I had reluctantly accepted his decision to complete a stint in the military: that we’d keep short, and take advantage of every benefit the controversial move presented. Cut rate education and VA financing for our first home were among the obvious perks we seized. Then we learned that it was possible to score free travel by hitching rides wherever the military happened to be heading—provided you were OK with impromptu schedule changes or a duffel bag as a potential seatmate. Or waking up in a completely different country than the one you thought you were heading toward when the drone of the whining engines lulled you to sleep. I’ll admit that waking up in England when you thought you were heading toward the Black Forest can be jarring. But for us? It wasn’t really a problem. We were on an adventure.
At various points in the intervening years I'm afraid my adventure mindset has morphed into something that more closely resembles my father’s early beliefs about mustard. Yes, that yellow—or sometimes brown—spread ubiquitously present in the common fridge. As a child, my father was convinced that mustard color was an immutable family trait—you were either a brown mustard family, or you were a yellow mustard family, end of story. You may be able to break out of your assigned hue, but only with great difficulty and eventual disappointment. A sort of condiment caste system, if you will.
Which brings me to the predictable little neighborhood of thoughts I’ve been circling in a boring little holding pattern. I’ve come to know the terrain, to believe that the hills and valleys of the landscape define my boundaries. It is here that I understand that I write little things, for small publications because that is my lot. I accept that the only employment in which I can succeed—at which I even want to succeed—is teaching part time art, for small time pay.
But this space in which I’ve been hovering has been declared a No-Fly zone. I can’t stay here. I have to leave. And just like trading in your drab Grey Poupon for a squirt of sunny French’s, I’m tossing some of my standard assumptions and taking a chance on some new flavors.
I’ll be writing more about my adventure in the days to come. I expect this place will serve as a sort of control tower as I navigate to my new destination. I’ll figure out how to get around the unexpected turbulence of my art job ending. And I’ll be figuring out just how far I can go with the book proposal I’m finally getting ready to launch. I might compare it to Seinfeld meeting Jackson Pollock in a humorous memoir. And I think I finally believe it can take off, once it’s fully developed and ready to take flight.
In short, I am approaching the world with an openness I haven’t had in awhile. I don’t really know where I’ll be when I land, but that’s OK. It’s an adventure. And I’m just fine with that. I’d be honored to have you a traveling companion.