A New England picnic, with wasps

by Joel on September 16, 2010

At a KOA in Crossville, TN

At a KOA in Crossville, TN

Life is a funny thing. Sometimes it feels like you’re on a ship in the ocean; you know it is moving forward but it’s hard to see the progress without any nearby markers to judge the progress. Other times life feels like a speed boat that has suddenly lurched forward before you can grab something to keep yourself from tumbling into the water.

For the last two months I have been on the speed boat version of life. Within the space of six weeks, my wife found out she had been accepted to a too-good-to-pass-up post-doc residency, we hastily finished up some remodeling projects and put our house on the market, gave away or sold a lot (but not enough) of our belongings, packed up the rest, bought an old motor home for the journey and headed north.

The reason for buying a motor home should be obvious to anyone who has made a cross-country trip with two cats in a small car. Plus, there are some things we didn’t trust to make the journey on the moving truck so having extra space to pack stuff was another advantage. It would be a leisurely four day drive with plenty of space for two people and two cats. As a bonus, we would have an RV for exploring New England on the weekends.

It was a great plan! At least it seemed to be a great plan, until the motor home broke down. Twice.

Moses taking me for a walk during the layover in Sevierville, TN

Moses taking me for a walk during the layover in Sevierville, TN

The four day drive turned into eight as we were stranded in Sevierville, TN for three days while I tried to fix the beast before giving up and hiring a mechanic to get it running. After escaping the clutches of Tennessee, we made it only as far as Roanoke, VA before we had to call a tow truck to rescue us. In fact, the motor home is still in Roanoke, along with the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the minivan we rented to finish the final leg of the journey.

We did finally make it and are settling in. The area is beautiful and the weather (so far) is great. The traffic is horrible but contrary to what we have been told, the drivers—known not-so-affectionately as “Mass-holes”—are fairly courteous. We are looking forward to exploring this new land and experiencing life in a region so different from what we’re accustomed that it may as well be a different country. There is a mind-boggling amount of things to do and see. In other words, all is well.

A paragraph in a recent post from my favorite writer/actor/thinker/tech-enthusiast, Stephen Fry, helped put these past two months in perspective:

Life for me (I’ve said this before so forgive me if you’ve heard it), is – I cannot deny it – pretty much a picnic. As with most picnics there are the occasional wasps. The wasps and their aggravation and nuisance are real, no point denying that, but life is nonetheless a picnic. If I yowl from time to time when stung, that cannot take away the pleasure of the view, the goodies in the hamper and the charming company. Namely – you.

Yes, the past few weeks have been tough. At times it seemed the wasps were attacking in swarms. But the stings will heal and we’ll still be picnicking in New England. Pass me another Sam Adams!

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