In Pursuit of Avoidance

We went to Richmond last weekend, for a trip of many purposes. Most of it was family-related, but we also wanted to celebrate Kairi’s birthday a little early at Bear Creek Lake State Park, as we have done the last two years. She was sad to miss it there this year, so we surprised her with camping and all of her friends at her favorite lake.

In addition to talking about how great it was to see each other, and remarking on how much all the kids have grown, one of the most common things I heard, while surrounded by most of my favorite people, was commenting on all of our adventuring lately.

“You are always going somewhere! I’m so jealous, I wish we could plan for things like that.”

“I’ve been nervous taking the kids camping, but you do it all the time, and you’ve inspired me to try!”

“I love that you share everything on your blog and Instagram, it’s like I get to live vicariously through you!”

Me. The woman who scrolls through instagram covered in kids while my coffee sits in the windowsill and gets cold. Thirty blog posts in my head I’ll never write, watching whatever my kids have on tv while I try to muster up the gumption to get us out of the house for the day. Looking at other mamas who are section hiking the AT, or checking off National Parks, or doing trans-continental bike-packing trips.

Conversations like that make me take a good look at how much of my adventure planning is wanderlust, and how much of it is just FOMO. With the ability to be so connected to everyone else’s adventures, it’s easy to forget just how many people aren’t having epic adventures every day. And to remember that when I look at my circle–my actual circle, not my instagram feed–that we are still pretty adventurous. My kids ask to hike. Almost daily. For our morning tv binges over coffee and “morning milk,” they spend most of the afternoon outside. Part of their pretend play lately has been being thru-hikers on the AT. We have to play “hostel” a lot, where they knock on a door and I let them in to spend the night before they get back on the trail the next morning. Their art is almost exclusively comprised of sunsets, mountains, and tents, and Kairi’s most prized birthday present is a book on plant identification.

It’s true that social media doesn’t tell the whole story. For every adventure the people I referenced above are having, I don’t know how much time they spend NOT adventuring. As a photographer I know all too well how many moments happen in between the ones we capture, edit, and send out to the world. And honestly–this year has been exhausting. I remember a time when camping meant planning. Writing out a camping-specific grocery list, pulling our gear out two days before we left to make sure we had everything, making a list and checking it twice. Now my car is still half packed from the last trip most of the time, and we have forgotten everything from our rain fly, to extra diapers. Minimalist? Sure. And a great exercise in being flexible and learning to improvise. But the constant go-go-go, the need to jump at every opportunity that comes our way, take advantage of every gap in Billy’s schedule where we can fit in a camping trip?

I hate to say it…but it almost makes camping feel like work.

I’ve been using adventure as a way of avoiding my grief over my mom. And while I don’t regret a single one of our trips, and I love how many places we have gone and how ready the kids are to just get in the car and go… I miss the lazy camping trips where we went somewhere familiar, and stayed for a few days. Where we weren’t rushed, and we weren’t chasing anything down, weren’t crashing in a tent on our way to the Next Place, but we were just there for the quiet, and the nature.

I’m not going to stop looking at what I could be doing. It’s how I get ideas. It’s how I find inspiration on the days that my depression makes me want to stay under the covers and disappear. I might not make it to the spectacular locations I see others posing in front of, but it might get me onto a local trail for the day instead. Or I may shoehorn in a trip because let’s face it, give me a day or two at home and I am itching to see somewhere new. And my local trail, or last-minute trip may be all that it takes for someone else to remember that their adventures are however they define them. Even if it’s their own back yard.

Home. And still having fun.

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