August 22, 2016

Open Space

After lots of big wide open spaces, we arrived in the Windy City!
I've written in the past about the connection, for me, between physical space, temporal space, emotional space, and mental space.

And then there's taste-space -- fois gras chocolates for dessert at Roister.  OBSCENELY TOO MUCH.

But this last week was the best manifestation of these concepts I've ever experienced.

I've had so much free thought (and super-weird free-association dreams).  Hours upon gloriously silent hours in the car while sitting as a passenger through South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and tonight, Ohio.  5 new states for me (I only need 14 more to get a complete set!) and a world of internal musing and observation.

I'd never driven in to Illinois before!
Trucking is so important to the US economy.  Nothing like sitting in a vehicle on interstate mid-US freeways (or stopping at a rest stop, or chatting with motel workers whose families are supported by truckers) to drive that point home and cause you to think about how little we (city-dwellers) need to know or care about the infrastructure that makes our lives function on a day-to-day basis.
One of many random highway art installations.

Corn.  SO. MUCH. CORN.

The Memorial Union on the lake in Madison, WI.

The nature of friendship has been a big center of thought for me on this trip.  I feel E&I growing closer every day as we sit in silence for hours on end and share conversations and tidbits when we feel like it.  The level of intimacy and sharing is the maximum that introverts could have, and yet, it is predicated upon shared physical space and time.  Without the shared resources of place and time, we would not be as close.  Period.
Roister Fried Chicken.  Amazing.

I've also thought quite a bit about historical travel.  While I can keep in touch via cell phone, social media, etc, historically, those who had the souls of nomads (like me) had to choose to leave and abandon their loved ones in order to experience adventure.  This choice between (proximal) human connection and adventure actually still exists today, albeit in a more minor form.  The reality is, by taking the life route I've chosen, by making this trip, I've essentially become a bit (even more?) of an expat. There are very few people in the region I consider my "home" who have chosen a life like the one I've chosen this year.  I have selected distance from them, both in terms of physical distance and time, and also, emotional and mental distance.  Me and my obvious normative cohort have less and less in common every time I choose something that is not the norm for my region/demographic/gender/etc.  Much like those who chose to Go West back in the day, or those who leave their home countries for foreign adventure or just re-integration elsewhere, I find myself feeling like I have less and less in common with most of the people I used to think of as *my people*.
View up the Chicago River from Lake Michigan.

A long weekend in Chicago with family reminded me, yet again, that shared physical time/location really is one of the most important sources of human closeness.  I feel very blessed to have married into an extremely cool family.  3 days of walking (urban-hiking 8ish miles is exhausting!), eating, drinking and laughing with them reminds me that despite my unique choices, I still have people in my tribe who are close to me and with whom I can share important memories, we just have to seek each other out and make the effort to compromise on time/locations/logistics, ideally finding a solution that is realistically workable and psuedo-comfortable for all of us that meshes into a wonderfully awesome meld that wouldn't otherwise exist. 

And, on the obligatory workout report, mileage for last week with hiking, running, and walking/sight-seeing was a respectable 30.88 plus several workouts including upper body and core.

Missing the end of tomato season in California - BT.  


Arvay said...

Re: relationships between physical and emotional spaces. A colleague of mine, born and raised in the plains of Saskatchewan, told me that he and his wife lived for a few years near the mountains in British Columbia, an area I happen to know and love. He said they eventually returned to their native plains per his wife's request. She said the mountains made her feel claustrophobic, and the plains gave her "room to dream". That is quite poetic, n'est-ce pas?

bt said...

Absolument poetique!

Cat said...

BT, I've just spent half an hour going through all your sabbatical posts - our summer of travel made me slip behind on blog reading so forgive my lack of commenting/interaction over the past few weeks. What a wonderful time you're having, I'm so glad for you both.

I was particularly impressed at how you talked about growing intimacy with E through those hours in a car. We road-tripped for a few weeks and I found the enclosed hours stressful and it made me less kind to the boys I love. I'm glad you've avoided that.

A note also on physical space thing that struck me on our hiking round Oregon was how uncomfortable I was with isolation. When we hiked as a family, I was notably more comfy when there were other hikers on the trail. I wonder if it's, as a Brit, I grew up on a small, densely populated island where we are never far from people or villages. It's something I need to work on...but I admire you guys and your comfort-level with isolation.

Enough now. Hugs, my friend. Can't wait to see what's next. xxx

bt said...

@Cat -- awww... thanks so much for the heartfelt comments. So kind and nice to read. Interesting perspective you have re: space and your background. On my end, I grew up on 5 acres and spent summers on the family 40 acre ranch, so my childhood concept of the *comfortable* amount of physical space is actually much, much, larger than what the bay area considers normal.