The Mooring of Starting Out

Everything accelerates toward beginnings. But then there’s that moment where things suspend there at the starting line, thin, ephemeral, balanced there with every decision waiting to propel you into the future.

Or, to put in another way, starting out is like being in that weird moment where Wily E Coyote has merrily run past the edge of the cliff and managed to keep going out of sheer blissful ignorance — until he looks down. Starting out is that moment when you look down and realize the edge of the cliff is well behind you now — you’re on your way down.

When I did it by myself years ago it was an exhilarating thing I likened to swinging as a child, but I won’t lie, throw three kids and a half still-broken bus in the mix and it’s not really fun or exhilarating; it’s a stressful nightmare. Nothing compared to what millions experience every day, but a long way from those dreams of carefree abandon you imagine you’ll feel. Or, in my case, that you have felt before.

For the better part of a week we bounced from hotel to in-laws to hotel to in-laws, all while the bus sat at the repair shop waiting on parts, some of which to this day have not arrived (do not get me started on this topic…).

Bus on tow truck photographed by luxagraf
I sincerely hope I never see this again.

Still, we did it. The house sold. For the record, we got our full asking price.

Some where in the middle of packing up ten years worth of accumulated stuff, selling off most of our possessions, negotiating with buyers, oh, and working full time, I managed to finish up the interior of the bus, laying the floor, refinishing the dash, all the trim and countless other little tasks. One day Corrinne called around to find someone to recover the seats and after a few people declined or couldn’t make our deadline we found someone about an hour a way who had a week between two big jobs and was will to take it on. I packed up the seats, drove to Atlanta and worked out the details. A couple days later I dropped off the bus to get the carburetor replaced, electronic ignition and few other odds and ends.

And then the house sold and we started falling.

We were forced to confront a problem most of you have not —where do you put your stuff when your home is at the shop? Answer: boxes? We shoved everything in boxes and stuffed them in our minivan, at my in-law’s house and in the storage unit we rented to hold a few items. The remainder we carted from hotel room to hotel room.

But you know, I’d be lying if I said it was all work and moving. We took time out to have a few last rides in the truck (which we’re selling). Crazy times are also good times to bend the rules a bit, to lighten things up. I’m not saying we did this, because I know what the internet parent police will say, but if we did all ride in the truck at once, using gasp, a single seat belt for three children, theoretically speaking, I bet it would have been fun.

We also took a day off somewhere in there to visit a friend’s farm so the kids could drive around in massive tractors. Heck, even Corrinne and I drove the tractors. How often do you get to drive something with a wheel that’s taller than you are?

Working farms, that is to say, real farms, not those little vegetable patches on ten acres that the hipsters have been buying up, are a healthy reminder that I’ve never really worked a day in my life. Not worked like a farmer does. It’s humbling just to listen to someone tell you about their day to day work on a farm. There are things I dislike about the modern world, but I am frequently thankful that I don’t have to farm.

Really the worst thing I had to deal with was having a home in the shop. One day I sorta half snapped and had the mechanic just put the thing back together as best he could so we’d have a place to be. So the bus has electronic ignition now at least, still no carburetor though. It ran well enough to get to the tire shop and get new wheels put on, but of course that didn’t go quite as well as planned, the new wheels are different enough that our spare didn’t quite fit. I did get to learn how to use a floor lift though, so not total loss. But I still need to get some longer bolts and get the spare mounted up before we leave.

But at least we had our home back, which meant we could get out town, stop hemorrhaging money at hotels and restaurants, which we promptly did, decamping to Watson Mill State Park for a week. We still didn’t have working propane or water when we first arrived, but hey, who need luxuries like that when you’ve got camp stoves and water jugs?


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