Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Real Life On The Road

Any thought that starts out by saying this is a slice of real life is not going to end well. For someone like me who lacks the gene that gives you stamina in the face of disinterest the past three days have been a pain in the ass. I am terrible at paperwork simply because I find it boring. In the face of this stark self knowledge I defer to my wife, the math teacher, when it comes to dealing with the paperwork of daily life. It just goes better that way and I reserve to myself the blue jobs that include navigating and looking after GANNET2 and minding the details of van life.

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, the day I was brought up to call Armistice Day as illustrated by the rather stirring display of flags in the mountain town of Burnsville outside Asheville. It is a healthy reminder that for some people with the best intentions life took a turn that led some of them to a dead end, undeserved and completely by chance, while others had to go away and face all sorts of peril again by chance and pretty much at random. Therefore my aggravations caused by real life need to be seen through that lens and in proportion. However I have very little patience with the notion that paperwork should impinge on daily living, and the memory of the sacrifices of those who went before need constant stirring as I struggle in a mesh of endless paperwork.
We have moved to a driveway in Asheville the hip mountain town in Western North Carolina where my wife's nephew lives with his family in a self designed eco home. It is actually rather brilliant as it is self heating using a concrete pad under the house that absorbs heat and cools at night with no energy use and at no cost. It has the usual complement of solar and water heating in the roof and with a vegetable garden and pay as you go Jacob has created a secure home in a town that suffers the usual vagaries of high cost housing that we all know and love so much. He grew in Asheville and loves his life here, one of those people I envy from time to time who don't get itchy feet, Happily his driveway is large enough to accommodate a 21 foot Promaster, another sort of eco home with solar panels enjoying the burst of November sunshine and heat.
It's been six weeks since I retied and I have received a retirement check. Weird. I have also moved from city health insurance to Obamacare and to receive the federal discount I need to prove my income. Difficult to do with that retirement check receipt. Something is wrong. Phone calls, messages the usual routine and there is a paperwork glitch. It's my problem and I need to squeak to get the wheels in motion to straighten it all out. I hate being the squeaky wheel but happily my wife is made of sterner stuff: call city hall she decrees, so I do. Perhaps it will take a few more toe cringing calls to the worker bees I left behind but perhaps soon the problem will be solved.
Asheville isn't a difficult place to enjoy especially when the sun is shining and it's more than 70 degrees and outside seating is widely available. If it weren't for my irritant desire to be moving and seeing roads and forests I could be dawdling quite happily here. We tried to open a joint bank account with my sister-in-law, part of my wife's long term plan to have back up while we are on the road. The bank forgot to ask for a signature so yes, we will be on the road, but only back up to the mountains whence we came on Tuesday to fill in this next piece of irritating mislaid paperwork. Damn, I deserve to be a grouch some days.
After the bank business I took Rusty for a walk Monday as the sisters settled on a lunch place. It was a lovely day high in the Blue Ridge mountains, dry crisp air that makes my hair stand on end and makes my nails feel dry like balsa wood and my lips chap spontaneously as they never would in Florida's soggy climate...
Lunch was at the Garden Deli, the ideal restaurant for Layne's outdoor dining needs under a flower filled patio supplied with quantities of beer and sandwiches. I got a monster pastrami.
That was the good news. Better yet I could get a booster shot at the nearby pharmacy that was dispensing Moderna boosters to the elderly and near elderly. I waltzed in and waltzed out two minutes later properly boosted and ready for further adventures. Thats when the trifecta struck and I found much to my annoyance the booster shoot had the short of wipe out effect I got from the second shot I received in Key West in February. I managed to show up at work but it made me feel like crap. The booster it turned out had a similar effect and I slept aboard Gannet 2 while the family walked themselves and their dog while my patient hound elected to stay close to me in my near delirium. The joy of being boosted took its toll as always and required a period of fever-like rest. 
Foodies abound in Asheville and my appetite was not affected luckily so I did crawl out for pork belly banh mi a Vietnamese sandwich with proper American fries just like Jacob's. Every meal was luxurious and a reminder of how lucky we are even though our paperwork might be a mess!
We did good stuff too, a visit to Trader Joe's and their tiny squished parking lot where I squeezed the big Promaster out of everyone's way. I got an oil change, Layne had to cancel an at home hair cut as the stylist wasn't vaccinated which was a shame. We showered, did laundry and dumped our trash. Utterly unexciting events that needed to be done as I slowly recovered from my non 'flu. Today (Wednesday) was the day we were going back to the road and a planned wilderness camp out on our way to Chicago. A visit to a teacher friend along the way had to be canceled as her school has a Covid outbreak and thus we faced the possibility of infection. And so on.
Don't be fooled, we are having. good time. Sure the plans keep changing and even though we did our best to have every duck lined up before we left, I feel more alive than I have in a long time. We will look back to theses visits with all the deadbeat bits cut out, and as much as we look forward to breaking loose from our familiar places we know enough to enjoy them as they unfold. Time for lunch I think, but my breakfast biscuit was so huge I am thinking more about tea than food. The luxury of choice, the luxury of time, the luxury of bending to other people's needs. We are lucky, no doubt. Whatever you re doing you should feel the same way as joy is no way dependent on ridiculous living in a tin box.