There has been an early snow and a drastic drop in temperature here on Peaks Island. Peaks is a bucolic island, two miles off the coast of Portland, Maine. It is populated by 1,000 hardy souls three seasons of the year and balloons up to 4,000 in the summer. It is an ideal place to raise a family. A ferry runs hourly back and forth to the city and it provides the best of urban and rural living. Our family works and goes to school in the city and then we come home to a yard full of beehives, gardens and fruit trees with beaches and forests just a block or two away. Most everybody on the island knows each other and for the most part, get along. Not many secrets, tons of gossip and a cozy small-town feel. How can I complain?
Well, one can feel a bit stuck here. There is a four-mile shore road that circumnavigates the island and I walk or run it just about every day. It is beautiful, but after the 10th time in a week, it can begin to feel like running on a hamster wheel. Going to town as an alternative can sometimes feel like an insurmountable effort. We ride the ferry six or seven times a week and everything in Portland costs money. To entertain myself at home, I have baked, played the piano, eaten and drank to a gluttonous level with my family (it was Thanksgiving break), exercised and read.
Yet, here it is, Nov. 25, 2018 and already, I feel a bit of small house madness. No surprise right? My son Oakley is bouncing off the walls, finding no purchase for his boundless energy. The trampoline is covered with snow, the unicycles have been put in the basement and there is a moratorium on screen time in our house. This leaves him at a loss. He runs up and down the stairs like a galloping colt in a too small pen. He begs for snacks, begs for screen time, begs for snacks, etc. We make him go outside.
He runs around finding friends then they all come back here and continue the running and begging routine. Last night I dreamt I looked up at the living room ceiling and found it pockmarked with chunks of broken plaster and lathe. I asked my husband what happened and he said “It is from Oakley’s stomping.” This bike trip can’t happen soon enough. If it doesn’t the walls of our house will collapse and Oakley and I might combust.
Suddenly, there is so much to do. Now that this commitment has been made, a lot has to fall into place. I am really excited, but also have some major concerns…
Oakley getting hit by a truck. Really. I fear that long, exhausting, boring afternoon peddling behind Oakley and seeing him wander across the white line into traffic over and over. My heart in my throat. Tension throughout my body, yelling at him repeatedly to “Move over!” until I just can’t say it again and a distracted truck driver coming up behind us..
Leaving my husband, Twain, for three months. I have never been apart from him for more than 10 days over the last 22 years and I am pretty used to him. I am lucky, I really love him. I worry about either of us changing while apart and having a hard time fitting together again.
Leaving Cricket, my dog. She is really important to me. She comes to work with me very day. Will she remember me? Twain and I can FaceTime but…Cricket.
Money. Money. Money. This is going to cost a ton. We are doing our best to get funding, but life is expensive. I won’t be working. We have three kids in college and Twain and I have our own student debt. We have a house, car, loans…yadda, yadda. Twain is really supportive and believes that it will work out, but I have my doubts. Oaks and I will be building our bikes from recycled parts, we will beg and borrow as much gear as we can. I hope to get sponsorships and maybe even write a book. We will camp and cook our own food but I believe the trip will cost us close to $8,000 and I will lose about $10,000 by not working for three months.
It is a fantasy that we can afford this. But, here’s the thing: how can we not go?
Life is happening now. This world is not terribly full of hope these days and I want to commit to engaging life and all its wonders. I want to trust in the goodness of people and not succumb to that idea that I should play it safe until my clock runs out.
My other children are doing great and they fully support this adventure (especially because they don’t have to go). Now is the time.