Blue Highways-the world beyond your front door

I know this one has been a little longer in coming, but it has felt like an interminable couple of weeks. First, thanks to everyone who came and supported myself and Kelley’s loved ones at both of our celebrations. It was a good thing to be around so many pleasant memories of Kelley and to see that she meant so much to so many people.

Much of what my journey has been about is stepping out of my comfort zone. I think I’m using these mini-adventures I’ve been going on as way to get out of the house a bit and away from the memories until I get to a place where they remind me of Kelley and not of my loss. That’s a fine distinction, and I understand it in my head, but I really can’t explain it better. I guess right now, each time I’m reminded or think of Kelley, I am also immediately reminded of her loss. Eventually, when I’m reminded of Kelley, it will be just that, a memory of Kelley with less emphasis on the loss, not that it will ever go away, for sure.

I can’t believe I’m going to use a sports analogy, but here goes. If a team loses a championship game, especially if it’s on something dramatic, the next time they take the field, they are going to be remembering that loss, not all the great things that lead up to being in the championship. Eventually though, the sourness of that loss fades, and while it’s not forgotten, it fades into something more manageable. I think my adventures are become in a way to make my thoughts of loss more manageable.

This whole thing has been about getting outside of my comfort zone and do things I’ve never done or not done in a long while. I’ve done a lot of that of late, and most of those attempts have been successful. I guess the one that may shock some of you the most is that on Saturday, I got my first tattoo. I’ve always been a bit of a wuss and the idea of the pain has always scared me away, but I thought about it a long time and decided it would be a good way to permanently remember Kelley. It’s a Celtic marriage knot with our anniversary under it in Kelley’s handwriting.

First and above all, I have to thank and give the biggest shout out to my tattoo artist, Emily Strange at Threshold Tattoo in Wapak. She was so understanding, belayed all my fears, and made it just an awesome experience. If you have ever thought of getting a tattoo, see Emily. She is a wonderful artist and just a joy to work with.

The experience itself is not what I expected. As far as pain, getting it done was more annoying than painful and afterwards, it feels like a sunburn. The worst pain was pulling the damn tape off my hairy legs the night after. Also, it’s an endorphin rush that lasts a good time. Don’t read this mom, but number 2 is already scheduled, and I’m addicted.

The other thing I did outside my norm was traveling to Riverbend in Cincinnati to go to a concert. I’ve been to many many concerts, but always with someone and I’ve already talked about how big crowds make me feel. I usually am one of those who watches and enjoys but doesn’t go all wild dancing and singing at concert. On Saturday, I made myself get out of my lane and just let me music loving wild side take over. Let me tell you, spending 4 hours with 6000 people all singing together and just loving music was so cathartic to me, it was like 500 lbs coming off of my back.

If you’re my Facebook friend, the big riddle is about to be answered…

I stepped out of my comfort zone one other time last week, with not so joyous emotions being triggered. I think it was Friday night, but more like the wee hours of Saturday. I was feeling lonesome I guess, and a little thought slipped into my mind. Let’s see what’s out there. After a bit of googling, I went to I made up a profile and took it live…for about 45 seconds, because in that time, every possible emotion, memory, thought, or piece of guilt hit me like a tsunami. I wasn’t ready to make that trip beyond my front door. I don’t know if I will be ready next month, next year or ever, and I’m good with that. I can say definitively that I was not ready last Friday. I will say some of the suggestions were intriguing though.

There is a book I love called Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon; actually Kelley suggested it. It’s a sort of travel diary and in it, Moon travels around the country, but he refuses to stay in hotels or travel on any 4 lane roads. He sticks to the little “blue highways” on the map, and sleeps in a bed in his van. In some very real ways, that’s inspired me. There are many fast and easy routes in life, but, just like the interstate, to get to see the real world, you may have to slow down and take the roads that wind off where you don’t really know where you’re going. I think I’m trying to do that; be it through the tattoo, busting loose at the concert, and even dipping my toe in the pool for a half second. Not every blue highway is paved well or ends somewhere we want it to, but therein lies the flavor and the adventure.


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