Unfortunate as it may seem, all good things must come to an end. After a month on the road, it was definitely time for this roadtrip to come to an end for ol' Jeannettie.
I said my fond farewells to the Stellhorns of Menlo Park (Dear Universe: I would like "Stellhorns of Menlo Park" to become a reality show somehow...kthxbye). Garrett and I hit the road. He kindly drove me wayyyy the whoo-haw into the countryside to meet up with my grandparents, who serendipitously happened to be on a roadtrip of their own and heading down to AZ at the same time I needed to head south. Call it what you will, but I shall call it miracle. I did not want to fly to Phoenix with all my stuff, so they made room for me. So kind.
When I am filled with dark clouds, I look to the kindness I have experienced on this trip to remind me that the world brims with good. I could call the kindness of stranger, friends, and family alike nothing less than a blessing.
Thank you, all of you who continue to show me kindness that I know I do not always deserve.
This picture marks the last time I would see Garrett in 2011:
I'm pretty sure Garrett said he was going to miss me right before this picture.
You can see that I am hanging on for dear life. Otherwise, I'da fainted with shock.
We loaded all my stuff in the truck and that was it. Poetry Roadtrip 2011 = overtown.
On the bright side, Arizona or Bust 2011/I Have the Best Grandparents in the World Roadtrip had just begun...and would last for a day and a half.
Let me introduce you to some stellar human beings:
Martin and Suzanne Kempton
I know I've already touched upon the subject of needing to be with your own people once in a while. I can't write this post about bringing it back up. My grandparents are the embodiment of agape (divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active and thoughtful) love in my life. I'm certain my grandparents are as aware of my humanity as anyone (in fact, I would almost bet money that they weren't too keen on my road-trippin' with a dude I'm not married to), but they treat me like I can do no wrong. And they're sincere about it. Sometimes I begrudge this mantle of do-no-wrong-ness because it is too big, too much, to impossible. That's okay.
The important truth of it is: being treated like I can do no wrong opens avenues of soul-healing. This love makes me lean toward wanting to actually do no wrong. Let's holla at the miracle factor again, cuz if you haven't caught on yet, mine is an impish compulsion towards the dark side. And maybe it's more accurate to say that it's not even a desire to not do anything bad (impossible), but to do more good. Be better.
Grandpa Kempton has told me a time or two that, by this point in his life, he's realized the most important thing is people. Nothing else matters. I know that he believes that when he says it because he proves it to me on the daily. He always says just the right thing.
In the morning:
"Why, a hug from you is worth a million dollars."
After I explain that I have to get gussied up to take family pictures:
"Why, you don't need to take a shower to be beautiful!"
In response to my mom getting a little hysterical that I let my 17-year-old sister come with me to the 18+ church New Years activity (yep, I'm that sister), saying "ALL THE MEN THERE WILL THINK SHE'S FREE GAME AND SHE'S NOT!":
"Why, none of my granddaughters are free game. They all come with a price."
And my grandmother never, ever, ever wants to hurt anybody's feelings ever. Her heart is so kind and tender. I had a pretty nasty cold this whole trip and she just took the best care of me.
I know, I know, I know. By now you are sarcastically wondering if someone got all loaves-and-fishy up in hurr or something. I don't mean to blow the image of my grandparents out of proportion, but they are most definitely my heroes. It would take days and months and years for me to give you all the facts that legitimize my claims, so I guess you will have to believe me and I will just get on with the roadtrip deets.
We drove until the skies got dark and we got hungry. We stopped in a dairy-smelling down called Coalinga. True confessions: I don't mind the smell of a dairy at all. It reminds me of visiting my grandparents' farm when I was a wee young lass.
Imagine it is night time, and you can't see any of this.
We ate dinner at a fantastic fancyschmancy place called Harris Ranch. The most important thing for me to say about this dining experience is that it is a steakhouse. A very nice steakhouse in a town where steak is quite obviously a main commodity.
The next most important thing for me to say about this dining experience is that I have been investigating the world of plant-based eating for a few months now (on the road it's pretty much impossible, by the way). Now, that doesn't mean I hate meat or think it's terribly awfully evil or whatever. I just have been trying to change what I think is most delicious.
Dining on someone else's dime at an expensive steakhouse would be the perfect excuse to guiltlessly chow down on some delicious meat. Much to my surprise, however, all I wanted was vegetables. Like, I was only craving vegetables. Craving. Nothing else even really sounded appetizing. That has never happened before. What a pleasant surprise to see real evidence that my food choices are changing little by little. Also, portobello burger...divine.
So after that delightful dining experience, my grandpa got us TWO SEPARATE ROOMS at a motel. THAT'S RIGHT, FOLKS. I had my own room. Blammo. I think that was more for my grandparents' benefit than my own, but you will not catch me complaining. They could've told me to sleep in the truck that night and I would've done so with a smile on my face. So this...ah, perfectly wonderful aloneness. What a luxury.
You better believe I lounged in both beds on this glorious evening.
And also took an excessively long shower.
And also walked around in the buff.
I woke up, packed up, and prepared mentally, spiritually and emotionally
for the looooooooooong day ahead.
Bla bla bla. Morning happened.
I absolutely love this picture.
Oh, and I somehow managed to hurt myself on this roadtrip. No surprises. T'was when we took a bathroom break specifically for moi. The situation was totally under control until my grandma didn't think I was rushing quite quick enough so she started telling me to "hurry, hurry!" like I was on the verge of peeing my pants/WWIII (granted, any woman who bore 12 kids in her life probably thinks all bladder-relief situations are emergencies). So, of course, I started believing I should run, which turned into an olympic sport as I felt as though I would either need to jump over the hitch to the trailer or face a bear-mauling, as surly a bear has decided to chase me now.
Has anyone seen The Harvey Girls?
This picture reminds me of that film.
A lil' treat for you:
4:07. I wanted to be her when we'd watch this movie on Sundays after church.
We drove 10 hours this day. Shoot ya'll.
But we made it home, safe and sound.
Getting home to the house...ah. Nothing like getting home to a bunch of little hooligans running out to hug you a thousand times. It turns out that the little hooligans aren't so little anymore. My brother Scott loves standing up tall so I notice that he's taller than me. Matt and Cori both say how glad they are that I'm home too many times to count. And my mom...that was a nice hug. A nice hug that turned into a poke and a tickle. My people.
And that's just 'bout the end of the road. For now.
Dear friends, may you find home.
Whether it be temporary or permanent, soft or stone,
harmony or discord, physical or spiritual, sunshine or grey skies,
may we at least find home in each other.
May we give and receive love.
"Heal the scars from off my back/ I don't need them anymore /
You can throw them out or keep them in your mason jars/
I've come home."
Stay tuned for reflections/conclusions from this experience, the month of December, and New Years ridiculousness. (???New Year resolutions??? Maybe.)