Dear Travel Mates,
We’ve been on the road for a mere 5 days now, and while we’ve gone on similar excursions many times in the past, driving to hotels and stopping along the way, it feels very different this time. We don’t have a home to go back to, and that is both terrifying and freeing.
Alot has happened in the last five days.
We started out in Baltimore visiting the cousins. It was good to kick off the trip filling our human connection cup with people we love. We know we’ve got some isolating days ahead due to COVID. We also scored a turtle back container for the top of the car which was essential.
The next day we visited friends in Fairfax. Another heartwarming stop. They fed us well, had a pool that the kids splashed in for hours, and let me take over their living room to do my classes.
Next we headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can’t drive through them without singing with John Denver about West Virginia, country roads, and the life we never lived but feel nostalgic about nonetheless (for our family rendition of “Country Road” you’ll have to follow me on Instagram or Facebook.).
It was a beautiful two day drive through foggy mountains tops. My daughter kept saying – “I want to touch the clouds!” We kept saying: “Put your arm out!” And she said: “No, I REALLY want to touch the clouds.” Don’t we all.
With a stop over in Boone, gem mining along the way, and after a slippery muddy hike, we made it to Asheville for a brief pause of TWO nights instead of one. What stability! AND we all weren’t crammed into one tiny room but actually had an extra bedroom. The kids went wild for the extra space and lord knows I did too.
We also got to see another cousin for dinner and she played hide and seek with the kids into the night. By the end of the trip, I imagine we’ll each construct the map of where we visited using different milestones. My son might talk about what he learned, my husband might talk about the mileage. My thumb tacks will definitely be the people we hung with and met.
After only a short foray into the south we already feel the differences in views regarding COVID. In all of the places we’ve been to so far people have been eating indoors in close proximity to each other as if nothing new. Which left us New Yorkers with mouths agape behind our masks.
The locals are just as surprised that we DON’T want to eat indoors. In Harrisonburg I had an unpleasant conversation with a waitress when I asked why others weren’t eating outdoors like us. She replied angrily: “Of course they’re not. It’s just our idiot governor who wants us to be scared.”
Since then, I’ve learned from a local friend that eating indoors is completely normal in these parts, regardless of political views. They just haven’t experienced the extent of the virus as we have in NY and take it more lightly.
For us, that’s going to be a challenge along the way. And we expected that. (so is finding food for this vegetarian. ALL of the veggie sides contained meat including the broccoli, beans, string beans, chard, and sweet potato.)
Speaking of political leanings, allow me to go on a tangent for a minute.
I’ve been thinking alot about the people we may meet along the way, and how I will try to reconcile differences and bridge the divide between us, especially politically.
Yesterday we chatted with an adventurous elderly couple who has been tooling around in a camper for the last two years. They were so lovely, Alona was all over their two collies, and we were happy to get some tips on where to go. As they drove away we watched their Trump bumper stickers fade into the fog…
I want to make sure we get to speak to folks like these.
In mentally preparing for these encounters I’ve been pondering a podcast episode I heard recently. In it, Lee Hartley Carter explains the fundamental differences in thinking between Democrats and Republicans. According to her, it’s the distinction in primary values that prevents us from being able to understand each other. Both sides see the world in two very different dichotomies.
Democrats see the world in terms of HARM vs CARE. For them, caring means ensuring social justice, healthcare for all, equal rights in the workforce, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, regulations for climate control, etc. For Democrats, if you are not driven by the CARE for your fellow human, then you are essentially condoning HARM.
Does that resonate?
Meanwhile, Republicans most often see the world in terms of LIBERTY vs. OPPRESSION. For them, the utmost priority is to insure their private human rights. Regulations they don’t agree with will be seen as OPPRESSION, threatening their right to decide for themselves. Guns, masks, curfews, quarantine, health care for all, taxes, affirmative action, communism, laws against fracking, etc – they all go against LIBERTY and freedom in their minds.
This paradigm makes sense to me. I can understand the Trump supporters I know through that lens. And I can see how they don’t understand my view. We’ve all grown up with certain dichotomies, and our familiarity makes them almost impossible to shake.
But I hope as I go through the country I can come with a desire to understand and a willingness to listen. It’s going to take alot. My HARM alarm is on HIGH. But I don’t see any other way.
That was a tangent. Back to the trip.
The kids have been in their new school for two days but I’m not going to go into that…You’ll have to wait for the next update.
ps. To all our west coast friends, my heart is breaking for our land and for your homes.