Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Alternate Wilderness Adventures

on November 22, 2014

My first husband, father of our sons, loved to go camping. It took a separate closet in the basement to store all his gear. He spent winters drying beef jerky for snacks and fixing meals to be reconstituted later with water on his summer trips. He used the kitchen oven so often I was lucky to get a meatloaf in edgewise. He also mixed his own gorp, which is now called trail mix and sold in grocery stores. Solomon, a ninety pound black Lab who was his best friend, and our sons accompanied him. For years he kept journals chronicling his adventures.

Recently I posted Memoirs of Two Innocents Abroad, several installments about the first big trip we took together – to England and France. Originally I wrote long detailed letters to my sisters back home which they saved for me to keep as a remembrance of our travels. They are part of my “Family Treasures” to pass down through the generations and have survived my moves after our divorce for the past twenty-five years. This summer when they resurfaced, tucked away and forgotten in an old shoe box, I was distraught. My letters are written in long hand, which is not taught in my grandchildren’s schools. That was the impetus for translating them into a typed form on my blog so they could read my stories. Now I am planning to have copies bound into a simple notebook to give them to my sons and their families for Christmas.

On a regular basis my former husband now a friend, who lives near by, invites me out for coffee. I mentioned to him my idea for creating a travelogue. He jumped in with his idea of including his camping journals, which he had copied over the years on his old manual typewriter. I was delighted to merge our stories. To get things started he brought me a shopping bag full of journal pages to go through and maybe condense.

As I began to read I found myself in a minefield of exploding memories and new emotions. I never knew the man revealed in his writings, though I was familiar with many of his stories. I never saw the soul mate possibilities between two people who chose different trails and confronted different wilderness adventures. We are both adventurers who strike out on our own. We are survivors. We’re story tellers. I mourn that I never saw him truly. But, though I think he sees me now, or at least is willing to listen to me, he stops short of wanting to plumb the depths of me. I will not tell him of my revelation. I celebrate that we are friends.

Ranier Maria Rilke writes of a “love that consists of two solitudes which border, protect and salute each other” across a divide. For me this is reality.

29 responses to “Alternate Wilderness Adventures

  1. What a lovely lovely post. I’m so glad you are saving this history of parents for your children. They are so important. And this is written so beautifully. Maybe he doesn’t want to “plumb the depths” of you for the same reasons you found the journal writing so moving. It’s hard to allow yourself/ourselves to love and know the person we left behind, for whatever reason. I have that same connection to the father of my sons. Love is a gift and a burden, in reality. And it never goes away once it’s in our hearts and souls.

  2. vivachange77 says:

    Thank you. It means so much to me to hear that you have the same connection to the father of your sons. I am feeling that love once present never goes away. I also experienced that toward my second husband when I was in Mexico. I am freer to love now that I’m no longer married to either husband. I’m grateful for my vulnerability.

  3. Vintage 1956 says:

    Looking forward to reading any excerpts you post on here.

  4. Karuna says:

    Your project will be so interesting, and I can understand why it would bring up so much. My ex and I have been separated/divorced since 1978. We did a good job of parenting together but we weren’t close by any means, too much anger. It has been fascinating to see how we have become friends again lover the last five years or so. What an interesting thing life is.

    I’m shocked that kids today can’t read cursive writing. I didn’t know that.

    • vivachange77 says:

      It is amazing to find that there is life to a marriage after divorce. I’m happy to hear you and your husband are so close now. About the cursive, it isn’t neglected everywhere I hear.

  5. Silver Threading says:

    I look forward to reading all the adventures from camping. ❤

  6. vivachange77 says:

    The camping journals are really interesting. I’m encouraging my former husband to start a blog but don’t have much hope he will. I know people would enjoy them. Thanks for your interest. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

  7. Enjoy your trip abroad and look forward to reading about your camping experiences.

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks for your comment. The trip abroad is the one you read about this summer that took place in 1972. My sons have never read about my and their dad’s travels so that’s why I’m making the booklet for them.

  8. Great, touching post, Vivachange! Deep of insights and emotions. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  9. Your post demonstrates great wisdom. Kind regards Kathy.

  10. Really enjoyed this post. “As I began to read I found myself in a minefield of exploding memories and emotions” is especially strong. You covered so much in this story, and the reader learns \more you and your husband. The camping, cooking, journals, and your storytelling is tender (not overly sentimental) and interesting. I liked what Janet said about connection and love being a “gift and a burden.” Bravo!

    • vivachange77 says:

      Thanks, Susan. I especially appreciate your comments on my writing. I’m testing the waters of the idea that love is “gift and burden” . I spent the night of Thanksgiving Eve (our new holiday tradition) with my oldest son and his family who live a few blocks from me. Every time I am with him and his wife we go deeper into being family. The texture of family love fills me with something akin to pain. I think it is brave of us to love so deeply as mother and son as I consider my eventual, inescapable mortality.

  11. Meredith says:

    Love is indeed a gift and a burden for many of us. I agree with Susan, the exploding memories sentence is exceptional. I want to have my blog printed and bound for my children and grandchildren.

  12. vivachange77 says:

    I am grateful for your comments, always. I do think printing out a blog for posterity is a lovely legacy.

  13. The only certainty in life is uncertainty. The one unchanging thing in life is change. It’s taken me a couple of decades to learn that trying to Control or even manage life’s events on a daily basis is fruitless. We don’t control the events that unfold around us or the gifts that God has given us, our unique talents. Beyond that, this Dude is learning to Abide.

    We Do control the choices we make. Effort, Integrity and Love. How hard do we work and where do we focus our efforts? Work or family? Either way it’s key to keep a Balance.

    Integrity in all of its forms-being honest with others and true to ourselves. Dishonesty always comes at a cost, sooner or later.

    Love measured by how much we give. Who we give it to, how often, and the risks and sacrifices that we make in loving those around us. Love remains the Greatest of All.

  14. What a beautiful and insightful post. So many people are afraid of love. They close themselves off thinking they are being tough. Opening to the vulnerability of love is brave. But oh how we miss them when they are away.
    What a wonderful thing you are doing writing this story for your children. Thank you for such a lovely post.

  15. vivachange77 says:

    Thanks for your depth of understanding.

  16. kategresham says:

    Yes, love once present never goes away- just what I was trying to say in my comments about your Mexican post. And if we are able to be open to that love, without hurt to anyone, then that is healing and positive. I’ve been sitting with both these posts because they spoke of experiences I share in some ways and I’ve wanted to respond. To continue to be open to a friendship, for me, does cause pain sometimes, but I never want to cut off love. I love your project. Your grandchildren are blest with yourself as grandmother- wise and choosing to continue to grow and change. I look forward to your posts and getting to know you better. Aren’t blogs great?

  17. kategresham says:

    And yes, I am freer to love exes now I am no longer “with them”. No demands, no restrictions, no anxiety…does this say something about the expectations we have of marriage?

  18. Quite a sToRy.

    Why do we realize priceless things after the fact? Why do we not (choose to) SEE like this in marriage? But it’s precious you can finally merge. I think your kids and grandkids will be able to see of your (plural) journey what took you and him so long to.

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