Working, studying, wandering

For the first six months of Covid, we pretty much hunkered down at home and outside. Frankly, no complaints! The kids did a great job of entertaining themselves with what we had, and sitting on the patio with friends wasn’t that different from a normal summer – a mask isn’t that big of a deal. Still, in the same way that I wondered how to approach opera without a theater or an audience, we started thinking through what Covid would allow us to do. Over the summer, the answer was to have camp at Sassy‘s house! The kids were there most of the week, and Dave and I joined them on the weekends. I know the kids love camp, and we were sad not to have them out making new friends all over the place, but we still had a pretty awesome summer.

I’ll be honest; fall was depressing. I work in an industry where gathering together is a critical piece of what we do, on stage and off. The kids going back to school in the fall is always a high energy and high enthusiasm part of the year. We all struggled to adapt to fall without the benefits of the things that make us tick. So, like most of the country, we wandered. We went for hikes across the state, learned to pack snacks, wipes, and layers. Honestly, for our kids who live close to all the different parts of their life, the drive was half the fun. Sometimes we take Leroy, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we plan a big adventure, and sometimes we hit the road and I pick somewhere to go as were driving. It doesn’t really matter. It’s a great opportunity to focus on what’s beautiful around us, and getting some space from the world.

I have friends and relatives who are true nature nerds, and I’m sure I could survive alone in the wild for weeks at a time. We do the clamping equivalent of hiking, and the kids can’t carry-on at a fast clip. They’re too busy looking at everything around them, darting into the bushes or making up stories for what happened in a ravine. it’s torture for a fast walker! But letting them set the pace means less whining, and ends up being really enjoyable for the grownups too. Turns out speed isn’t everything.

Lord knows how much longer we’re gonna be doing this. The vaccines are rolling out but it feels like forever until everyone in our house will get a shot in the arm. For a family that has been full steam ahead since the marriage that started all of this 11 years ago, it’s forcing us to learn how to slow down. That lesson can be a challenge sometimes, but you can’t truly wander unless you give yourself a little freedom to lollygag. Beautiful things happen when you are open to a detour, or a pause. So we stop and talk about frogs, or leaves. Inside adventures happened too – performances, cuddles, even the rare tiny reader sighting.

So as far away as a total return feels, we are also thinking through other ways to wander. Working and learning or not going to stop, but who says the adventures have to? Roaming is on our horizon, safe and isolated wanderings that we hope the kids will remember for a long time to come. as they get older and start going on adventures of their own, we want them to welcome the freedom of not knowing entirely what comes next.