It was fall in Michigan, and the Catholic Church called. They said that my mother could marry her beau of a couple of years, annulment granted. When the Catholic Church calls, you drop things and run. And so, with a blessing from the Pope, loved ones descended on the western shores of Lake Michigan in the villages of Douglas and Saugatuck for new love, second and third chances at love, good love, for family and fellowship and fun, for widening our understanding of what love means and can be — and even how it works — and for a wedding … and a great party.
November is a beautiful time to be in Michigan; fall and this state are very compatible. Returning to the lakeshore in the rural county where we grew up to explore new relationships, while immersing ourselves in the fallen leaves, the woods, the grasses, the small towns, the country drives and farm stands, and the constant sounds emanating from Lake Michigan were alluring and romantic for this family, as whirlwind and impromptu as the visit was. After a year and a half, it was nice to be home and reminded of why it is lovely and important, even when one plans around the Catholic Church and is utterly unprepared for such fancy endeavors after living a tiny extended camping lifestyle.
The relationship between my mother and her new husband was born, in part, from grief: Both of them lost their previous spouses to cancer, and the processes of death, dying and bereavement were long and difficult. But the experiences built a bridge of love, respect, compassion and lots of fun. It was time to make it official. A quaint service in a charming chapel made for an intimate gathering of their many friends and family to share in love and union. It was truly divine.
Congratulations to these two.
The union of my mother and her husband brings together many friends and family, and, thus, a great party. For our traveling trio, we were able to see many people we hadn’t seen since well before our travels began. Cousins, aunties, nieces, nephews, in-laws, grandparents, brothers, sisters and lots of old friends were in attendance. Loads of laughing and dancing followed. It was wonderful to see so many beloved people.
As for the visit itself, the return to Michigan, our stomping grounds, it was both blissful and quirky. We had not anticipated traveling to our home state until next summer; we were unprepared in many ways to return so soon. We lacked wardrobe for a fancy engagement, at least Luna and I did. (Commentary on worn out camping attire in a different post.) We lacked luggage and had to send for some. We lacked time as Scot was smack dab in the middle of his current project and needed to be present with his partner. Speaking of time, time zone differences kicked our butts. We lacked practice in traveling other than camping: My mother had to help me book tickets and confirm seats. We lacked cash flow as we had booked way ahead in some of our camping spots, and we had laid out cash for a few other necessary issues. Remember, we do not carry credit cards. Cash is king in this rogue motorhome.
And we didn’t know how to be in a civilized household, not that our tiny house on wheels isn’t civilized — it’s just … small, and made of cheap parts. Take, for instance, the toilet. All three of us weren’t used to the weight and feel of a regular toilet seat, and so often underestimated the effort required to raise or lower it. A few times I thought it would break from being disconnected from our own strength after lifting our paper-thin camper toilet seat. We also kept trying to flush with a now-absent foot pedal, our feet whiffing toward the floor as we pushed nothing.
Real, thick, awesome toilet paper was also a downright luxury. We felt guilty using it. And we also wanted to throw the pee pee T.P. into a non-existent paper bag for a non-existent burn pile. Totally out of sorts.
A real (and large) kitchen, with five burners on a stove and oven of regular size, a dishwasher, lots of counter space, a gazillion plates and bowls and eating utensils and glassware … room to spread out and cook.
Straight-up solid, consistent, ever-flowing, glorious WiFi, mostly helpful for Luna and for Scot. The hotspot received a break.
A real, working, beautiful, instant gas fireplace. Praise the Lord.
Walls built to keep in warmth and to keep out sound. Heaven.
Regular bedrooms where we could all sleep together — well, at least in the same room — proved bizarre. It took us halfway through our visit to sleep well as our routine — Scot dismantling the dinette to assemble his bed, and Luna and I arranging the bedroom just so for our own sleeping comforts — was eradicated. Full, spacious showers and bathtubs with constant hot water. Noiseless faucets, handles and floorboards. A stable dining room table and foundation (and I do mean a non-rocking camper). A normal refrigerator and freezer. And so on and so on. There were so many things that contrasted our tiny lifestyle that I was reminded of Whirling Dervishes: We were trying to stay grounded and focused and true to what we know, while being made aware of and tempted by so many beautiful, material things. Spinning, spinning, spinning in this part of our most definite spiritual journey.
I say this sans criticism, disdain or antipathy by any means. It is quite the opposite: It was interesting, enlightening, somewhat surreal, gorgeous and beneficial to be in such contrast. It made us blatantly aware of what we need and want to achieve and maintain balance in our lives (like little to no yard work, but perhaps a California king bed!). It just happened to occur all at once and not on our time frame. Going to Michigan sooner than later messed with flow, and so we just went with it — we had to — trying to take it all in and embrace the time and energy and love that culminated from the union of marriage, the reunion of people and our own re-union with home, spirit, space and truth. We are/were grateful for the experience.
For rural Southwest Michigan is enchanting, full of forest, meadow, water, small community pockets, artists, farmers, rich, poor, and I would say humble, Midwest style. We were reminded of what we love about our roots and about what we seek in our lives as travelers and eventually in community and physical environment. We adore small towns, and also neighborhoods. We thrive in the woods and by the water, which speak to our souls and fill our hearts with love, peace and abundance. Seasons are delightful here. We enjoy our friends’ and family’s connections to the many, various, unique regions of Michigan; they all believe that it is a beautiful, rich state and are deeply emboldened by it. We want to be near them as much as possible — as it stands, all in due time. They are good and beautiful shining lights. Beacons for sure. We know where we can turn, always.
Our visit crystallized for us some ideas and ideals in the mix of our pondering while traveling, things we have been considering for our future when our travels flip-flop to staying put for longer while taking more immersive, extended trips. For sure woods and water. Close to nature, in nature, as minimally as possible. Modern and mixed environments. Experiences over things. Brick-and-mortar, eventually, over house on wheels full time. Community — for knowledge, awareness, fellowshipping, engagement, caring, quality, activity, stability and proximity, too … and flow. Close to an airport, for we most definitely continue to want to be abroad as often as possible.
And also, most importantly, enjoying the present. Engaging in the now. Going with the flow, which is part of the path. A river. No force, no resistance, just being here currently, with the current. It is good practice for those of us who want to know things and answers immediately. Keeping our hearts and minds open for anything and everything, be it unexpected travel, interrupted work flow, expectations of a diocese, assumptions of how relationship works and is crafted and can be. It is the path of least resistance, of little force, and for a life better-lived, more fully and with awareness.
We returned to our transient home in Fort McDowell, Arizona, exhausted, but full of information and insight. We were happy to be back to our camper and back to our flow, and we were happy to have visited Michigan and our family and some friends, even as it went against our grain. It was helpful. It was part of the path. It was good for the soul and for our dreaming and scheming. We know that we will be in Michigan as often as we can, even if it isn’t full time or right now. It is part of home for us, just as being out in the world is home for us, too. We want physical home, and we desire spiritual home. As a good friend reminded me long ago, the Universe is our family. That is very much true for us currently, whether it be home on wheels or a temporary apartment stay in the city. And so, we continue, just as everyone else does on the life path, somewhere in between mental and physical planes, mind and body in unison — in union — in love, in fun, in spirit.
Except we’re just a bit more untethered. 😉
P.S. A personal thanks to the Pope and Catholic Church. You made us work for this one. We won’t hold it against you. It was worth it. Amen.