First, I’d like to say that I don’t think it’s fair to ask a mother to go an entire month without talking to her son. In the current age of technology, I find it entirely unacceptable that we have to be out of communication for so long. Please don’t do this to me again. A week I can handle. Ten days? Probably. 33? No. Remember this when you are out on your mission. I expect to hear from you weekly.
A lot has happened since you left and we were on pins and needles waiting to hear from the Coast Guard. You might want to read this post to get up to speed on what’s occurred. But the condensed version is that we heard from the Coast Guard. We got a separation date, and we need to be prepared to be unemployed for six months while everything works out for dad’s new job.
Our plans have been all over the map this summer while we waited for the Coast Guard’s reply. When you were backpacking in Yosemite in May, I was sure we were going to be biking from Canada to Mexico this fall. I’m still a little bummed about that not working out.
When you left to go backpacking in Wyoming in June, I was sure we were going to spend several months in Europe. At one point in our planning, we were even going to sail back to the U.S. on a cruise ship! I had it all worked out: United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and then Spain. 3 months – 10 cities. My homeaway.com account is filled with inexpensive little cottages we could rent all over Europe. Alas, within a few weeks of your departure, I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do.
So we’ve been making some pretty big decisions. We decided not to bicycle from Canada to Mexico. We decided not to live in Europe for 3 months. We decided not to backpack the National Parks. We decided not to live in Alaska for the winter. We decided not to tent camp for 6 months.
After deciding we were NOT going to do, it was imperative that we decide what we WERE going to do! Time was of the essence and we no longer had the luxury of deliberation. It was a call for action.
We decided to buy a school bus to live in. Dad suggested it on Wednesday night and here it is Sunday and there is a bus parked in front of our house. (And yes – an argument could be made that if we had more time, this idea would have been cast aside too in favor of something different.)
We found an awesome bus in Illinois on Ebay Thursday night and we were super excited about it. Dad flew to St. Louis first thing Friday to check it out. The owners were so great, but because of some insurance issues – it didn’t work out. Talk about disappointed! I was crushed.
While Dad was driving the two hours back to the airport to fly home, I was busily scouring the internet. Eureka! I found another bus he could go check out. He drove to the airport, returned his rental car, got on a Greyhound Bus and traveled all night to see the new bus. Short story – it all worked out and we now own a bus.
And it is awesome.
It’s blue – the same color as the VW dad drove in high school. It’s 16 years old, 39 feet long, and the owner’s daughter rode that exact bus to kindergarten years ago. It was bus #4. I feel like we were meant to have this bus. It is going to be perfect for our journey – although we’re still working out the details on what that journey is going to look like.
In my mind I have an idea, and it begins with simple. When this whole idea took root, it began by your dad saying, “we need simple.” He’s right and I don’t want to overcomplicate things. We’ve been given the gift of time and I want to spend it together as a family – living a simple life and appreciating the little things.
I suppose people will think we’re crazy – a family of 6 moving into an old school bus for six months. Maybe we are. I like to believe that all great ideas have a little crazy behind them.
Life these days moves at a furious pace. Our blue bus travels comfortably at about 45 mph. Modern conveniences are thought to be essential, but our blue bus provides just the basics, like a roof over our heads. There is no running water or cable television, however there will be books to read and board games to play. We’re also going to bring our bikes. We may not be biking from Canada to Mexico, but I look forward to some totally rad family bike rides. There will also be time for discussion, inspiration, and exploration.
Your dad and I discussed going completely off the grid: no smart phones, no Facebook, no blogging. Tempting as that may be in some regards, we decided instead to embrace our adventure, to record it and to invite others to follow along. We live in a social world where much happens online. Rather than shut it out, we’ll incorporate it and grow from it. However, I also think in our online world, we’ve become disconnected from the real world. There is much to be said for in-person relationships. I hope we skirt the big cities and spend our time in small town America. I’m looking forward to interacting with people face to face on our journey. Meeting them, hearing their story, learning from them.
As I write this, I wonder what you’ll think about all of it. I’ve missed your input the last month, I rely on it dearly. I wonder if you’ll want to join us, or if you’ll continue on to college, where you’re already registered and ready to go. There is time for one semester before you leave on your mission and you are at that age when it’s time for you to have adventures on your own. This summer has been the perfect start. But I also ache to think of our family having adventures without you.
Jacob you’ve always been there. I don’t remember life before you. Dad and I had been married only 8 months when we found out you would be joining our family and for months before that, we had hoped for you. You’ve been there through every move, every job, every adventure. The last few years you’ve transitioned from child to friend and confidant. You are wise beyond your years and a joy to be around.
Looking back to when we decided to homeschool, I was terribly nervous and wondered if we were making the right decision. I can see so clearly now that it was a gift from God. All those years with you, all that time we had together, I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I’m so proud of you and I hope you are proud of us. We’re crazy and impulsive and we love you dearly. I can’t wait to talk to you on Thursday. We have so much to discuss!
Oh – and here’s a few pics of the blue bus. She’s still waiting on a name.
Love you always,