The Road Trip Diaries – Alone

My next few blogs grow out of a 3,670 mile road trip August 18 to 26. The purpose of the trip was simple. Quinten, our youngest, was going to college in Abbotsford, BC. Why not turn this into a family vacation? Kyle, our eldest, and Miguel, our neighbor who is like a son, also agreed to join us. On the morning of August 18th we headed west – 2 cars, 5 drivers, and the wide open road. I am not sure what I was expecting, but this trip stirred up a whole lot of memories, emotions, and reflections. For those of you who have not had to opportunity of driving through states like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming, it is hard to describe how vast the wide open spaces are. We had lots of time to talk, sit in quiet reflection, and wonder about the future.

I will start with the last day of this epic journey. Rita and I pulled into the Flying-J in Cheyenne WY, the final stop before arriving back at home in Denver. It just so happened that this was also our first stop on the way to Abbotsford 8 days earlier. On this last day there was 1 car and 2 people, just Rita and me. Quinten was in school. A few days earlier I had dropped Kyle and Miguel off at SeaTac airport in Seattle. Kyle flew to Stoney Point NY for a week of orientation after which he would be going to Chicago. Miguel flew back to Denver for work.

As we pulled into the Flying-J, all kinds of emotions started welling up. Last year Rita and I experienced a type of empty nest. Both our boys left for a year of service but in my mind they were going to be moving home at the end of their year. As I drove up to the fuel pump it hit me. My boys are growing up, they are going their own way, and they are becoming the adults we always hoped they would become.

So I was happy and I was sad. On the trip from Cheyenne to Denver I found myself driving a bit slower. I wasn’t ready for the empty house we were about to encounter. Last year was a year of preparation, so there is sense in which Rita and I have some experience with an empty house and a quieter life. However, this time it feels permanent. I am confident we will adjust to this new reality. For now I am going to be sad and grateful. Sad because I miss my boys. Grateful because I am happy with how they have turned out.

Quinten, in his own words

This year both of my boys will be spending the next 12 months in another city with DOOR’s Dwell program.  Kyle, my eldest, will be in Chicago and Quinten, the youngest, will be in Miami.  This also means my wife and I became empty nesters this week.2013-12-27 13.01.42 My wife and I have been asking ourselves lots of questions lately.  Did we do a good job?  Did we make the right decision to raise our children where we did?  I suspect that the answers are still a few years away.  Yesterday Quinten wrote his first blog. I read it on the airplane and cried.  You can read more about his year by clicking on this link. In the meantime here is Quinten, in his own words:

How to start? I find myself sitting in the most iconic American town I’ve ever been in, surrounded by people the look exactly like me. It may seem weird, but white people cause me to feel uncomfortable. I grew up in a neighborhood in Denver where I was one of the only white persons, and where I was immersed in minority culture ever since I could remember.

My parents intentionally moved into this community to, I believe, give my brother and me a different perspective on social understanding of the world. We weren’t just observers of the social injustices, we lived it, experienced it, and felt many of the feelings that are associated with those issues. As a result my comfort and interaction with white people reflects that of the community I grew up in.

Now why am I in this town with these people? Why did I choose to do service with people who don’t have a strong connection to the people that were going into serve? And through this week I’ve had to question whether my own experiences are authentic or not. I find myself stuck on a sort of cultural border with part of me trying so desperately to embrace one culture and identify with that, and bound to another based on reasons that I’ve never been able to control and a mentality of disconnection to the people I was around. How do I navigate through my confusion, and how do I identify myself?

I think I may never find the answers to those questions. But what I can do is open myself up to more cultures and experiences; open my perspective to a wider view of the world, and just maybe cultural boundaries can be lowered enough that I can see all around me.

My next year will be spent living with people from the very culture that causes unrest in me. I am going to break the barriers of my own fear through intentional community.