Wow. Has it really been 25 weeks since we set out on this grand adventure? I sometimes think back to our life in Dallas, and the rhythms of living in a house in a city with jobs we loved, with school, friends and all the activities, birthday parties, and play groups that come with it. I remember the days of regular date nights, babysitters, social events on the calendar and the bliss of a housekeeper who helped with the mountain of weekly cleaning and laundry (yes, I still miss her every single day).
I think back to our first night on the RV when I literally cried myself to sleep in utter anguish, wishing I could have a redo on this insane decision to sell everything, stop our incomes and invest it all in a dream to pursue something we couldn’t even boil down to an elevator pitch.
Now, 25 states in, we’ve settled into an entirely new normal. It’s one that involves incredibly tight quarters, fewer frills, and lots and lots of time together. We have a long list of new friends, as our kids call them, mostly because that is exactly what they are. And on that list are very few, if any, whose lives resemble our former life in any way, shape or form. This is important, because these new friends have set us up to find out for ourselves what this journey has really always been about. And that is to discover the beauty of falling in love with individuals we would never have had the chance to meet if we had stayed in Dallas.
Face to face encounters have opened up a door to understanding so many Americans who are not like us, and that understanding has shifted entire regions of our hearts in ways we never knew were possible. We’ve discovered dark areas of prejudice lurking in our own behavioral patterns and ways of thinking that needed a total transformation, and areas in our relationships with one another that needed healing. Only time can do that, and thankfully, over the past 25 weeks, it has.
We’ve had our fair share of mishaps, from ant invasions and encounters with raw sewage, to getting caught on power lines and looking out the window to discover one of our lower bay doors is banging against the curb on a bridge with nowhere to pull over. Our kids have become professional connoisseurs of playgrounds across the Deep South, the Mid-Atlantic and New England, not to mention their perfected palette for ice cream in every town and hamlet on the eastern half of the United States.
We’ve met cab drivers, hair stylists, feminists, atheists, black lives matter activists, pastors, boat captains, farmers, construction workers, journalists, soldiers, professors, retirees, political junkies, Trump haters, Trump lovers, and everything in between. We’ve asked great questions and really dumb ones. We’ve heard countless stories, all of them unique, all of them beautiful, all of them connected in surprising and not-so-surprising ways. Our hearts have been enlarged, our hope has been fueled, and our eyes have been opened to the utter breathtaking beauty of this nation and its people.
We’ve also spent a lot of time grieving. We’ve grieved our own silence and inability to see people and problems clearly in the past. We’ve grieved the sad reality that the majority of our American history and the stories we once held as reasons to be proud of our country are actually largely misrepresented and incomplete narratives that have been propped up in place of truth to ease our conscience and lull us to sleep. To hear more on these sentiments, check out our Independence Day Post.
As we now head west, out of the eastern half of the country, we understand with crystal clarity that the political divisions floating across the surface of our country’s narrative are nothing but symptoms of much deeper, much more sinister forms of division stemming all the way back to before our founding. This is why we are convinced that we need much more than a conversation to move forward as a nation. We need something that reaches far beyond civil discourse. We cannot hope to advance as a society in any facet until we address the gaping wounds of our past. Then and only then can we start to think about the destiny and future of this great nation.
What the next 25 states hold for our family remains to be seen, but we can vouch personally, not theoretically or hypothetically, but with names, faces and stories, that we are a beautiful people and we all deserve the chance to see what this grand experiment is really capable of achieving. But first we need to do the hard work of addressing the grievous sins of our past. Hope is not lost and we still have time to right these wrongs.
Please share your comments and let us know if we are headed to a city near you in the next half of this journey. We’d love to connect with you and hear your story too!