Monday, December 17, 2007

Airstream Storytelling

It's our turn to be the interesting party guests. While everyone else our age has been busy at work this year, we've been on a leisurely land cruise through North America pulling that great mid-century icon of American adventure and wanderlust--an Airstream trailer. That's a story that piques everyone's interest. Quitting work before age 50 to travel America with a grade-school daughter: How do you do that? People hardly know where to begin with their questions. Generally, the questions fall into the categories of:

1. How can you afford to do this?
2. What's it like living/traveling in a trailer?
3. How do you school Allison?
4. What have you seen so far?
5. How long do you plan to do this?

They want to know everything: the how, why, and where. I realize in my answers that the whole adventure is not a complicated thing. Everyone seems to have a sense for what it means. Almost everyone has taken a road trip. Almost everyone has experienced the thrill of a summer excursion to a national park or beautiful place in the U.S. All we are doing is taking a full immersion into the experience. We are on an extended road trip, one that is awesome because we don't have a deadline. It's not us that is interesting--it is the adventure. We are just the characters in a story that any listener can easily replace with themselves. Seeing America by road is an easy dream to comprehend.

In a way our adventure is so American, so democratic, that I feel compelled to share, especially when the interest from others is so sincere. I believe a recounting of a safari in Kenya or rafting down the Amazon couldn't draw the sincere and absolute fascination people exhibit when listening to our kind of story. We are sharing something so uniquely American and so guaranteed to elicit nostalgia or childhood memories that we feel like preservers of an American cultural ritual. And that's just the road trip aspect. The other is the Airstream factor. I've never met a person yet who didn't think Airstreams are just super cool.

I've enjoyed a holiday season homecoming. We're home at the right time to gather with friends for dinners or parties. We had two social occasions in two nights. I spoke so much that l lost my voice. Apparently, I haven't used it that much on the road. Now I was suddenly called to report on a version of: "How I spent my summer vacation." Instead of being the kid who had to go to summer school I'm the kid who got to see Mt. Rushmore, Buffalo Bill's wild west, the Canadian Rockies, the California coast. I rode ferries in Puget Sound, picked pumpkins in Oregon, hiked the mountains and redwoods of California.

It's a story I like telling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Kelli,
It is a long cold winter for most of us still working, dreaming of the open road trip you and your family are living.

I enjoy reading your blog, and have started catching up on the archives, but you have hit the sweet spot for us all, telling the story of your adventure!

I am thankful you have decided to share it with us. Please keep telling the story. However mundane it may sound to you, it's the nectar of Airstream living most of us want to enjoy.