We’re down to the last month of training before our challenging series of fall races begins. Between mid-September and late October, we’ll each run four races ranging in length from 10K to half (me) or full (M) marathon. Our first fall event, Reach the Beach NH, kicks off in four weeks, and each of our big events takes place less than a month later. All of that means we’re in the thick of things when it comes to our training plans…and before yesterday we were in a rut, too. (more…)
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” –Janis Joplin (courtesy Kris Kristofferson, et. al.)
And we now—officially, after months of planning and hoping and maneuvering—have very little left to lose. As of noon today, we sold the house and hit the road without an address. To clarify, we have a P.O. Box where mail will be forwarded, but we do not have a physical address. We are voluntarily homeless (which brings with it a number of sociological issues which J. plans to discuss in a future post, naturally.) (Insert shout out to anyone who has agreed to host us during the next three months…)
Over the past few days, we’ve both been singing Janis Joplin’s version of “Me and Bobby McGee” while working to move our stuff into storage, sell the house, and take the final step toward freedom. During this time, music has been a critical factor in our sanity and our motivation. We’ve bee-bopped around the house: packing, cleaning, moving, and singing. We’ve raged and hip-hopped and rocked and sung the blues. Throughout the process, the lyrics of “Me and Bobby McGee” proved to be especially relevant: “Freedom’s just another word for / nothing left to lose.” They were sung quietly while carrying trash bags to the garage, belted out in the shower while we scrubbed off the basement grime, and hummed while packing boxes of stuff we wondered if we really needed.
Yet Janis isn’t the only one who’s been keeping us company. Adam Ezra understood why we were “Takin’ Off Today.” Air Traffic Controller knew that all of the hoops we’ve been jumping through were “just a test / test 1, 2, 3…” And The Hold Steady explained that “we were young and we were so in love / and I guess we just needed space.”
But perhaps Modest Mouse captured it best: “I know that starting over is not what life’s about / but my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.” It’s not often that you change most (or all!) of the key components of your life, but sometimes your thoughts are too loud to ignore. We’ve changed so much with our physical and professional and personal selves that this financial transition out of the house seemed natural. It was necessary to complete our journey into a place of total flexibility.
We have no idea what the future will bring, but for now, being on the road—traveling, reading, experiencing life and writing—is good enough… “good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.” -M&J
We spent last night at a hotel/conference center/golf resort in northeastern Tennessee. We selected it based on location and price (which was free…one of the benefits of years of business travel!), but the amenities were an added bonus. We were the only people in the pool and hot tub last night, and we were the only people on the golf course this morning. No, we were not up for an early round. Instead, we headed out at sunrise for a speedy two-mile run, weaving our way through the cart paths and footbridges along the rolling fairways. The only other people we saw on the course were members of the maintenance crew tending to the greens. We capped our run with weights and stretching in the spacious gym before heading back to our room. We treated ourselves to long showers and room service breakfast, knowing we have two days of a shower-less campground and outdoor oatmeal ahead of us.
We will arrive in the Smokies this afternoon, and we might go off the grid for a day or two. In the meantime, by special request, here is a list of the first 10 songs from Sunday’s roadtrip playlist (which we continue to listen to today). All of these songs have lyrical significance, and many are just plain fantastic. First up on today’s drive: replaying “Wagon Wheel” as we roll through Johnson City. -J
First 10 Songs from Sunday’s Drive
- Takin’ Off Today (Adam Ezra Group)
- Runnin’ Down a Dream ( Tom Petty)
- Cruisin’ With Jack Kerouac (Hot Sauce Johnson)
- Stuck Between Stations (The Hold Steady)
- The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan)
- Country Road (John Denver)
- Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show)
- The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
- Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen)
- The World at Large (Modest Mouse)
Greetings from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains! We arrived at our hotel in Virginia tonight and made short order of the dinner we had packed from home: quinoa mac & cheese and veggie burgers…with celebratory champagne, of course. We covered 585 miles today, cruising through 9 states and spending the better part of 10 hours in the car. We split the driving into two-hour shifts and passed the time listening to music, chatting, and playing a made-up game of Vanity Plate Mad Libs. (Side note: People are strange.) We enjoyed warm breezes, sunny skies, and low traffic throughout the drive.
The scenery for most of the day was standard-issue Northeastern U.S. and nothing either of us hadn’t seen before, from the Mass Turnpike and George Washington Bridge to the farmlands of Pennsylvania. That was until we were about 15 miles from the hotel, when these mountains surprised us, lurking in the fog around a highway bend. A shadowy ridgeline stretching as far as we could see rose quietly above the flat, rolling plains around it. We couldn’t make out many details since we arrived after sunset, but we have a full day of exploring the mountains planned for tomorrow. -J&M
“Take a last look out on / Turn the key and we’re gone /
Who cares if Monday / There’ll be hell to pay…”
–Taking Off Today, Adam Ezra Group
We are taking off today. We are hitting the road for the first in a series of trips that will, over the next nine months, criss-cross two continents and five or six countries.
We’ve been planning this day for weeks and talking about it for months, but we’ve each been dreaming about this day our whole lives, long before we even knew the other existed. The day when we quit our corporate jobs to pursue an authentic, creative life. The day we awoke with no expectations or agendas or constraints other than the ones we assigned to ourselves.
We’ve been readying our physical selves by losing weight, eating whole foods, and getting fit enough to tackle 6,500-foot mountains and long stretches of road.
We’ve been readying our financial selves by living below our means, sticking to a budget, paying off debt, and saving money.
We’ve been readying our possessions by decluttering, donating, and downsizing, seeking out “the right stuff” instead of simply “more” or “less” stuff.
And we’ve been readying our ride. We traded in two family sedans for a road warrior, swapping a hybrid engine for all-wheel drive that eats mountains and standard trunks for a wagon that craves gear.
This morning, that wagon is packed and ready to roll. For us, there is no Monday. There will be no hell to pay at the office, because there will be no office. There will be no commute to the city, no gridlocked traffic, and no work e-mail to check. There will not be anything except the few things we’ve chosen carefully for the trip and a collection of dreams that have been piling up for the past 30-something years.
We know roughly how many miles per gallon we will get on the road, but we have no idea how many words per gallon we will write while we’re out there. Come along for the ride, and we’ll find out together!
T-21 hours and counting! We’re busy as bees cooking meals and snacks to take with us, getting the house ready so it’s sparkly clean when we come home, and packing our gear and the car. We both have a long training run planned for this afternoon, so we’re working our other chores around them. In many ways, it feels like a regular Saturday around the house, but there’s a building sense of anticipation with every tick of the clock on the kitchen wall. Still no decision on the first song, but the tunes are cranking right now!
It’s barely noon, and I’m crying for the second time today. It was a song that did me in both times: the lyrics of one and the opening chords of a guitar in the other. Twangy little rock-and-rollers singing about change and loss and freedom. In other words, songs that were written specifically to make me cry today. Well, not me specifically, but anyone on the precipice of a big transition that’s been in the making for a long time. Today’s two songs have made their way to our growing road trip playlist. We expect to do more than 80 hours of driving in the next two weeks, and that calls for a longer-than-usual set of car tunes. We’ll mix in old favorites with new tracks, shuffle up the genres, and throw in some spoken word for good measure. There’s been much debate but no decision yet on the track that will earn the coveted designation of “first song,” the song that will play during those first three or four minutes of the trip. Even though we’ll spend those minutes driving on the roads closest to our home, we’ll be driving away from what our lives have been and toward what they will become. There’s a good chance I’ll cry most part of the way to Virginia, too, but they will be happy tears: tears of boundless relief, tears of authentic joy, and tears born of emotions for which I won’t have words. With a little luck, the words will come later. In the meantime, I’ll be content to lean back, look out the window, and listen to the soundtrack of our lives. -J