It’s May 2016, and Dimitri and I are back on the road. I say “back” because we used to do this a lot – get in the car and head out to where the real work of social change happens, in real communities where people live their day-to-day lives.
Spending the last several years building Creating the Future, we have not had as much opportunity to do that. Finally, though, several events are now colluding to get us back into the car, heading to California where we will spend a month wending our way up and down and back and forth across one of the most diverse regions anywhere on earth.
As always, there are the things we plan for, and the many more that we don’t. All of it is juicy and fun, and while yes it’s a bit tiring to spend a full month in and out of the car, it’s also a lot more exhilarating than exhausting.
Over the next few days and weeks, I hope to share some of what we saw and did. I hope to introduce you to all the people we spent time with along the way. And mostly I hope to encourage you to get out of your own four walls and connect with the people you love, the people you admire, the people who can make a difference in your life.
Because life is so very short, no matter how many years we get. And we cannot afford to squander a single second of it.
Day 1: Friday, May 20th
We leave Tucson late, because packing takes a lot longer than even we had imagined. The month ahead will include visiting with friends (clothes for that), hiking in all sorts of terrains (clothes and shoes for that), lunches and meetings with business associates (clothes and shoes for that), presenting workshops in community and keynoting a 300 person conference (clothes for each of those), days in the car (comfy clothes for that) and a black-tie-optional wedding (a whole wardrobe for that). It will include the heat of summer and the chill of autumn, sun and fog, desert glare and June gloom.
Because this is both a pleasure trip and a work trip, there is a box with files and notebooks, the small printer and a ream of paper. And books of course – books to back up my writing, and books for when the mood called for fiction (yes, I know, Kindle. But when the box is already stuffed with all that other stuff, what harm is a real paper book or two? Or three…)
Gifts to show our gratitude along the way include a variety of card sets made from photos Dimitri and I have taken – photos of our home in the desert, to share with people who were sharing their homes with us, and then notecards of the Pollyanna Principles, to share with colleagues who are generously sharing their communities with us.
The 3 coolers full of food include dinner for the first night on the road, some snacks, and mostly the dozen tamales apiece we are bringing to our three kids, who we will also get to see during this month in their new home state.
It’s around 2pm when we finally pull out of the driveway, aiming up I-10 towards the always-deliciously-deserted westbound Route 8 Interstate, heading to San Diego. We pull into Yuma just as the sun is getting low, and find a spot at Gateway Park along the Colorado River.
In the short time we are in Yuman, three monumental things happen. We have no idea how much each of those will foreshadow the month ahead.
First, my daughter calls from Japan – her first call from her 3 week vacation on the other side of the world. She regales us with stories and images to match the amazing stuff she is already posting on Instagram (prompting me to finally open an Instagram account, just to follow her). That 10 minutes on the phone with Lizzie floods me with joy, has me dancing in my seat in the car for hours to come.
The second thing happens when I check Facebook. Our Seattle friends Erin and Mike rarely post on Facebook, so I pay attention when I see a photo of them at the top of my stream. Good thing, because the location stamp on that photo is the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego! Before I can catch my breath, I text Erin with a garble of OMG and “really?” – letting her know that we are on our way to San Diego. Is there a chance we could see them? (The answer, if you skip to Day 3, is of course YES).
And then third is the dust storm. Driving late in the afternoon in the desert is always risky, not just because of the heat, but because if a dust storm is going to happen, that’s the time of day it will be. As we sit eating our dinner along the Colorado River in Yuma, we watch a wall of yellow-grey slowly move across the sky. By the time we hit the road, the Imperial Sand Dunes looked like a scene from Star Wars (technically, they were, but that’s for another story), complete with the barely visible sun peeking through. Eerie and beautiful.
We have no idea the extent to which those three unrelated incidents will be themes for this trip. Lizzie’s missives from Japan (not to mention her empty apartment that will serve as our home base for a week). Encounters with people we love, so many of whom we’ve not seen in a very long time (or whom we know online and have never met in person). And huge surprises from Mother Nature. We encounter all three of these as we stop for dinner in Yuma. We have no idea they will be the theme for an entire month of adventures.
By the time we hit our hotel in San Diego, we are beat, but excited. Because we will be spending tomorrow with Troy.
To follow along on our journey, head to Day 2 here.