I am just returning from a 3 week road trip. As much as I like adventuring, I can’t remember a time I have been gone that long. In my college days (or any days when I got summers off from my job), I often spent summers back home living the more chill life of tanning in my parent’s backyard, going to see movies with my younger brother and running at a local track for “fun.” (No one has ever called me fun, btw.) The “summer life” pace suited me. Let me tell you, I have never aspired to or felt comfortable in a fast-paced environment. It is horribly at odds with everything I enjoy about life. Even living in New York City, I found ways to be very “Texas drawl” about it all–hanging out in the BBQ joints to socialize & going for long slow runs on the weekends.
But life in a big city gets to you, no matter how much you rebel. After I had a kid, the wheel never stopped spinning. I mean, I don’t even remember sitting down or watching TV or being a normal person post Kenzy. I decided it was perfectly normal & doable to have a full-time job, a full-time business & a toddler under three. Covid brought all of it to a sudden halt, and in many ways–presented me with a dream life (minus all the death and suffering, which overwhelms me sometimes just thinking about it). It was like someone said, “Hey Kristy–you actually don’t have to drive on those L.A. freeways today.” or “Hey Kristy, you can’t follow through with those plans you made.” or “Hey Kristy, you won’t be planning any scavenger hunts for a year or more.” or “Hey Kristy–you can save all that money you were spending on childcare.” or “Hey Kristy, you can be with your kid 24/7 now.” The radical change continues to be–6 months later–a shock to the system.
My desire to move slower was something I could now actually practice. I have been terrible at it at times, lots of crazy insomnia & waking up super early to work work work. Pivoting (are we all sick of hearing that word when it comes to work?) so that my business and my job would still be relevant. Non stop cleaning of the house with a toddler promising to non stop to mess it up again. But mostly I have adapted. I stopped caring so much about business. I planned a trip that would involve epic moments of wilderness. You probably don’t HAVE to drive hours off the freeway on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere in Utah to seek safety from Covid, but I sure did!
I ended up extending the long road trip. I thought about extending it forever because there is something inside of me so drawn to what I call “the country” but is really just tons of land without many people. It is the only situation where my anxious mind is at peace.
I went on a road bike in the mountains of Colorado. I haven’t been on my real bike in months because it’s too crowded now on my usual L.A. bike trail. To be back on a real bike and NOT be in a crowd gave me such joy–I couldn’t believe that #1) you could simply leave your house & be on an epic bike trail, #2) every twist and turn of the ride was a scenic masterpiece, #3) that this was just a small part of the trail system–that I could go all day or all weekend & still not cover it all. It was also my first time on an E bike & to ride up a mountain without worrying about going so slow you are going to tip over, well that is a bike review for another day.
It may seem like such a little part of one’s day, but I have a strong desire to live in a place where I can bike and run and swim surrounded by quiet scenery. My strong desires were traditionally attached to “a dream job,” but I feel less driven these days. Or the drive is only to find a way to financially make my slowed down country lifestyle more permanent. Is this a mid-life crisis? I swear I have one of these every couple of years.
I returned to Los Angeles unwillingly. I was frustrated as I unpacked the bags & washed the clothes–very dramatic & “well there goes the dream.” I spent all night after returning desperately searching VRBO and Air BnBs wondering if I could just get away for another week or two and how awesome that could be. I have been at the same job FOREVER. Even my business I have had now going on a decade. I have called Culver City my home most of my years in L.A. It is a lot of the samesies & if anything, this pandemic has given me more time to think, “What am I doing again?” and “Is it what I want to be doing?” We are usually all too busy or terrified to even ask ourselves. (For those of you that don’t question your life choices with the same gusto or consistency I do–I applaud you! I have always been this way.)
I’ve been back for a few days now, and my mood has improved. I am in the middle of deep cleaning the house, which always brings me a deep sense of peace. I am not miserable like I thought I would be (mostly because a new season of Big Brother All Stars is on!!). But there is something in the back of my mind asking me not to take this time at home–away from the normal grind of life– for granted. That something always means I will be ordering a self-help book & this time it is one on building good habits and breaking bad ones. I can’t wait to report next year about how I am a perfect human with no bad habits! I already ordered those Daily Harvest smoothies advertised constantly on social media, so you know I mean business.
My kid was supposed to start pre-school today. And of course because it is L.A. I applied TWO YEARS AGO for her to get in (when she was ONE). She got her acceptance letter in May, and I filled out the 22 page registration hoping that things would be improving. But things aren’t better, and I just didn’t feel comfortable sending her out into the world. The “virtual learning” option was a no-go, too, considering she slams my laptop shut when I’m on a Zoom call for too long. So I decided to take charge of the home-schooling situation (she is only 3 anyway, what does she need to learn?) & the first decision I made was to delay the start of school. The second was to order a variety of “learning posters” that will make it look to the outside eye like I am really teaching. And honestly, it is a giant relief. As a long-time educator, I can let you in on a little secret–our education system was already broken. It’s why I work outside of it & focus on things I believe in teaching– more creativity, collaboration, problem-solving & less tests and grades. So now I can do that with my own kid. She has to go to night school though, because I’m working days.
I blasted The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) on the road trip, which helped on the long days of driving. I highly recommend what Kenzy calls “Mommy Music.” I’m thankful for those moments that allowed me to clear my head. There is YEARS of noise in my head from living in this city that I’m determined to quiet in the coming months. I sense a great turn-around of things soon (on a global scale), and I want to be ready for it when it hits. I don’t want things to go back to my old sense of normal. I want to find a new one.
I hope you are well. I think about you all often & hope to hug (some of you) soon. OH–and I will get back to triathlons soon & stop moaning about my life on here non-stop! (Maybe this November in Napa???)