Home, Or Not

The greatest thing about living in the Midwest is the affordable travel factor. Save some nickels on a fixer-upper and – boom – you’ve got yourself a cheap home base where you can travel the world, stamp your passport, road trip to Anywhere, then mosey on back home to wash your whites/visit your mother/downward dog before doing it all over again.

The not-so-greatest thing about living in the Midwest is this: January. And February. March. Sometimes April. (I’ll let you know.)

And so, it’s been Hibernation Station in these parts for something like six weeks? Bedhead, slippers, clementines for breakfast. Ken was out of town for a week, and I’m not certain Bee and I left the house for anything other than a goat milk run on a random Tuesday. It’s been lovely, really, and yet, February has this tired way of sucking you dry. The clouds hang low; the color drains from the world. It’s unsaturated, quiet, semi-maddening.

It’s beautiful until it’s not.

My friend’s text: Want to get away next weekend? Pack up the kids, rent a cabin, take a road trip?

Mine: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Into the the cooler went summer sausage, eggs, avocados, berries. I stashed a fleur de sel chocolate bar and three bottles of red in our snow boots, and in went the playing cards and a sheet mask layered between folded pairs of sweatpants (I’m not talking joggers, folks),  knitted socks, Bee’s snowsuit.

We paid the dog-sitter and got outta dodge, Pure Michigan style.

While we’re on the packing subject, by the way, this is notable: Vaseline’s travel tins. This might not be a big deal category for you, but hey, Vaseline has been a staple in my medicine cabinet for years and I have never-not-ever brought it with me on a single trip because my jar weighs something like 132 pounds (exaggeration mine) and listen, I’ve already got terrible posture as it is (exaggeration not mine) without gifting myself early onset scoliosis over a hefty skincare regimen.

The tins are a delight, and they saved just enough room in my weekender bag for Bee’s stuffed penguin and a pair of scissors (she’s been into grooming this week and let it be said for posterity: this is not a phase I should be encouraging, but really, you should see the hedgehog’s transformative makeover. Stunn-ing.)

Want to hear something funny?

We drove three and a half hours to sleep on someone else’s sheets and cook off other people’s pans and eat snow from someone else’s backyard and I don’t know if it was the sheep-painted teacup or the fact that I didn’t have to clean the toilets, but it all felt so time-wastingly, mind-numbingly perfect. Give me a roof I don’t own on a Saturday and my brain will shut down faster than I can lose a round at Head’s Up.

Which is fast. (You know me and pop culture; we’re just not really running in the same circles these days, or ever.)

Sidenote: I once spent thirty-eight seconds trying to explain Marilyn Monroe, but the person I was supposed to be explaining was Marilyn Manson, who I accidentally mixed up with Charles Manson, who I then wrongly described as Ted Bundy, and then my brain went to Al Bundy and before too long I was trying to conjure up the name of the girl in ‘Married With Children’ and the timer went off.

It gets messy in there, friends. But I redeem myself every.single.time with Animals Gone Wild, so you know. I can dominate that category.

Anyway, where were we?

Getaways. They needn’t be costly or exotic, or even well-timed. But there’s something about watching fresh snow fall over a driveway you’ve never shoveled that just feels so other-worldly, like a jolt to your perspective. Like you’re walking four thousand miles in someone else’s boots and then finding that – at the end of the day – when your head falls heavy on a pillow that isn’t your own, you’re still you, and the person next to you is still you, and you’re strangely enough, still home.


p.s. Thanks to Vaseline for keeping us moisturized all winter long, whether we’re here at home, or just home at heart.

  • So beautiful! you’re lucky to live in a part of the Midwest where air travel is accessible. I grew up in Wichita, Kansas and it was SO expensive to fly in and out of there. I find it much more affordable now that I”m on the West Coast near a major hub. But, I’m sure that would be different if you were close to Twin Cities or Chicago. I suppose it’s all about proximity to a big airport ;)

    • Oh, that’s a great point! We have a small airport just 15 minutes away but for a bigger hub, we do have to drive 2.5 hours or so (and factor in airport parking – gah!). So you’re right – accessibility makes a big difference!

  • We’re off to sunny Hawaii at the end of March, and though we don’t get the snow here in Oregon I CAN’T WAIT to be in the sun, near the ocean, in a house I don’t own, with toilets I don’t have to clean… = )

  • So True!!! All of it! And I love your description of what went on in your head when trying to describe marylin Monroe:) ha ha! So funny!

  • Man, I love a good roadtrip and even better if I can stay somewhere. I am in STL and always wanting to know of places within a short day’s drive of home. Anywhere you know of on the eastern edge of your state? (Think I recall you are in IN.)

  • It’s so funny to see these little Vaseline pots here in the States. We have them in Ireland and my husband has put at least two in my stocking every year despite the fact that I don’t think I’ve managed to use up the first one yet! Somewhere in a box in an attic is a whole bunch of them to last me a lifetime! Ha!

    • Oh, I’ve visited Ireland and LOVE love love love that beautiful place. And ha, yes, the tins seem to last forever, don’t they?

  • The sidenote made me crack up. Anyway, I love your reminder that travel can soothe without having to be glamorous. I think we often get a picture in our minds of what trips should be like that isn’t actually the main objective. Thanks for sharing!

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