separate vacations

I’ve been preoccupied lately with Canada. I’m fascinated with the idea of making a long road trip next summer to the far eastern point of Newfoundland, which is about as far as you can go without falling off the North American continent. I’m so fixated on this that I have already planned out a 12- to 14-day, 4400-mile journey, with different options for routes and sightseeing. About a week would be spent exploring Newfoundland, with three days’ driving each way to the ferry port to get there. Due to the compressed schedule, I would miss out on most of the attractions between here and there, which means I would have to make a second road trip to see everything in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. I would also like to make a third trip to see Montreal and Ottawa.

The problem with this plan is that my wife doesn’t really like road trips. She gets queasy and uncomfortable with long rides in the car. She doesn’t have the same level of enjoyment that I get from just seeing new places and new roads while driving for a full day. I’ll admit it’s a lot of windshield time in between places that might be interesting to visit, but I enjoy the drive just as much as the places I visit along the way. It’s the journey, not the destination.

The thing is, I would really like to do this trip by myself. I love finding interesting and out of the way trails to hike or places to visit, but we don’t necessarily have the same interests when we travel. We enjoy things at a different pace sometimes; I might see a museum in two hours when she wants to take four hours to see the same things. I enjoy playing travel agent and planning things out, and she tends to just go along with what I propose. I spend too much time worrying if she is having a good time, and she is not someone who tells me in the moment if something isn’t interesting.

I don’t know how to tell her that I want to go alone. We have taken separate excursions before, but not for more than a few days. This would be for two weeks, and I don’t know if it is fair for me to explore and see new places and have interesting stories while she is left behind and keeps going to work. Nothing is stopping her from doing the same thing, but that’s not really her kind of vacation. She gets more enjoyment out of going to the beach for a week and doing nothing but sitting on the beach and taking naps. We just did that together, and she said it takes some of the enjoyment away from her when I’m not having fun. I feel the same way.

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the bro code

The gas company gave some employees free tickets to the Cleveland Guardians baseball game yesterday. The seats were waaaayyy up there, and I had a nice Goodyear-blimp-like view of the game. There was a metal and plexiglas guardrail directly in front of my seat, and the architect designed it so I could not see home plate without leaning into my neighbor or painfully craning my neck. The “chicken strips” were just big nuggets of mechanically-separated goo. But the worst part was that it was a night out with the bros.

I’m not a social person; I like meeting new people about as much as I like the New York Yankees. The problem is that my friend at work (AJ, from a previous post) asked if he could have my extra tickets for his friends. That’s fine, no one else I know wanted to go with me, but then again I don’t have any other friends. AJ, however, has lots of friends, primarily other middle-aged white guys who try to be as ironic and witty as possible to cover for the fact they don’t discuss personal or serious topics.

Instead of going to the game alone, I allowed myself to get roped into joining the gaggle of guys for the game. They were mostly well behaved, but they occasionally made inappropriate comments and were unusually loud a few times – typical for a bunch of older dudes with alcohol. I like to sit quietly and watch the game, but they kept involving me in the conversation. As the game wore on, I wished I had not gone at all, but I survived. I did get a nice sunset picture from the upper deck, so it wasn’t all bad.

I have always enjoyed the company of females or mixed groups rather than just a bunch of guys. I don’t know what to talk about with other guys – sports, grilled meats, booze, tools, strippers? Those topics were pretty much all that was discussed, with the typical amount of one-upmanship and embellishment. I mostly sat back and let the conversation flow around me. As usual, I felt alone in the crowd, although AJ did his best to make me feel like part of the group (which I appreciated).

somewhere else

No matter what I’m doing, I often find myself wishing I was somewhere else. I’ve been this way since I was a young kid. When I was at school, I would stare out the window and wish I was in the forest. When I lived in the woods, I wished I could live in town. When I lived in town, I wished I was back out of town again.

When I’m around people, I usually wish I was alone. Sometimes when I’m alone, I wish I could share the moment with someone. When I’m stuck at work, I wish I was driving somewhere, but sometimes when I’m driving I wish I could sit still. Sometimes when I’m away from home, I miss my people and wish I could be with them. But sometimes when I’m home, I wish I was by myself again. At first being a long-haul trucker satisfied my need for seeing new places, but it soon became just a difficult job that kept me away from home too much.

When I’m working (and no one is looking over my shoulder), I might open Google Maps for something, and then my mind starts drifting and I start looking for places I want to explore by myself: hiking in nature, seeing new cities, finding waterfalls, and planning road trips. When I’m done working, sometimes I go on a random drive just to see something new, but it’s getting harder to find new and interesting things within a couple of hours from home.

I don’t get bored easily, but I need something new all the time. I drift through museums faster than most people, looking at each painting or artifact just enough to enjoy it, but not long enough that I get bored with it. I can spend an hour where other people might spend all day. I’m still enjoying myself, but my enjoyment of the moment ends very quickly. I used to enjoy my work, but now it’s just a job, and sometimes it sucks the life out of me.

My life is not normal, but it’s not bad like it used to be. Even so, Sometimes I want to run away from it all – abandon my problems, hide somewhere off the beaten path, scratch out a living in isolation, and be alone in my misery. Unfortunately when you’re running away from yourself, you can’t run far. Maybe what I’m asking for is a final escape from myself, but there are too many places I haven’t visited yet for me to give in and finally end it all.

Maybe what I want is freedom – to come and go as I please, to see new things when I feel like it, and go back to my comfortable chair when I am done. I guess that’s what retirement is for, but I don’t see myself having a long time to enjoy freedom from having to work. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be very fortunate if I even make it to retirement age.