Northern Exposure

There is something strange about being out in the forest and using a chromebook to type out a blog about being out in the forest. I’ve realized that writing things down in a notebook makes for a lovely journal, but not for many blog posts. It seems like they never make it from paper to cyberspace. I figured if I lugged the thing around, it would ensure that I at least get some writing done.

Today we took a spontaneous road trip up north to where there are some leaves turning green and where it is cooler and beautiful. The strange thing is that I actually suggested the trip. Me. The person who generally doesn’t wake up in the morning and say, “Hey! Let’s ruin my whole routine and take a trip somewhere.” Well, this morning, I felt the need, desperately.

You see, I’ve been stressed. Majorly. My heart is restless. I can’t focus on what I should be doing. Frankly, I resent the fact that I should be doing it when there are so many other things that I want to do. I have two classes this semester, and four left until I am done with my Masters. I wish I could take a year off, but I know that, if I do, I won’t finish. I have to finish.

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming urge to feel pine needles under my feet and shade on my face. I had to hear the rustle of the wind in the pines and watch the oak trees drop their leaves. I had to move and cleanse the malaise that I was feeling.

I also had a crap-ton of homework. I’m talking a five-page paper on a novel that I haven’t finished yet that is due on Thursday. An at least 20-page paper on 12 secondary resources that I’m using for my graduate research paper. I have three more weeks to do it, but I haven’t even started. Not to mention the things that I should be starting that are due Thursday after next. Yeah. Crap-ton.

Responsibility almost won out. I woke up, booted up my computer and tried to wade through some of the work that I’m supposed to complete. I just stared at the screen, pain in my chest. I could feel the lethargy of depression sliding over me, suffocating, stifling my spirit. I realized that I would not get anything done because, quite simply, I didn’t want to do anything.

I had to get away. If I didn’t, I’d end up going back to bed, staring at the ceiling, feeling guilty and sinking even farther into a depressive funk. I’d rather feel guilty while I was playing outside. Plus, a getaway might help alleviate some of my sad.

When I asked hubs if he wanted to road trip, he wondered who had kidnapped his wife and replaced her with this strange creature who wants to go somewhere…. spontaneously. Once he realized that I was serious, he agreed quickly, taking advantage of this strange mood I was in. Mom, dad, daughter, and dog piled into the truck and off we went.

My plan was to do homework on the way there. Two hours in a car would give me ample time to read, take notes, and do all the hoop jumping that I have to do in order to get my degree. I am a little tired of working so hard and feeling so dissatisfied. I am not as content to perform the circus act the older I get. I didn’t really want to get my Master’s. I was content with my Bachelor’s until I realized that I would be stuck in the same position for the rest of my life. I knew I couldn’t be a classroom teacher forever, but that is a story for a different post. Maybe I’ll write it later.

As we left the city, my shoulders dropped their tension.My breath slowed. My brain shut itself down. I wasn’t thinking about what I *should* be doing. I was doing what I wanted to do, and all was right inside of me. It had been so long that I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation of freedom (WC). The farther north we drove, the cooler the air became. The curvier the roads were, the more I slipped into a half-slumber– you know, the kind where you are aware of what is going around you, but you don’t really feel like it is anything you should worry or think about?

We had some music playing, and Natalie was reading a nonfiction book about volcanoes to us. Every once in a while Jason or I would correct a word– she never did learn to say obsidian correctly. There was just the lightness of the travel.

Once again, this is so not me. I get anxious– when will I be able to stop and go to the bathroom? What If I get hungry? What if we run out of gas? What if we get lost? None of these thoughts occurred to me. I melted into the road. I became a leaf on the wind, a bubble in the current, and all those other cliches.

It was amazing.

Once we got to Payson, my shoulders were down in their natural position and not around my ears where they’ve been residing recently. Opening the windows and breathing in the piney-and-cold air helped my insides mellow as well. We pulled onto a forest road– one where we had to open the barbed wire gate to get into. The farther away from the road I got, the more relaxed I became.

The road ended at the edge of the rim of the mountain. We got out of the truck and hiked down as far as we felt was safe for Natalie. I looked out and could see for miles. There were no people, no computers, no homework, no grading, no lesson plans, no formative assessments, none of the things that have been slowly sucking pieces of my soul away.

Remember how it feels when your muscles are stiff, and you are stretching them? It hurts like hell, but you know it’ll make everything better in the long run. That was my ache. And it ached. All of the empty spaces inside of me filled like a torrential rain.

None of my homework got done on the trip. We are driving home, and I am writing this instead. I know that I will feel the pressure as it gets closer to the due dates for my assignments. As we get closer to the city, I feel the tension gathering again. I can’t help but think of all of the things that I have to do. I don’t regret taking care of my spiritual needs. I needed it so badly. I wish I could do it every weekend.  Maybe then it would stick. I need it to stick or else I won’t make it.

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