We all know from experience the particular sensation of coming home after a long journey. That not-quite-soft landing which rarely (if ever) smooths out. We spent the week immediately following our Type Rider adventure - and the deeply heartfelt celebration of our wedding that marked the end of it - tucked away by the Chain o' Lakes in northern Illinois, cozied up with friends and family. It was a little hard to stop moving, but we were both grateful for the stillness, the lap of waves on Pistakee Bay, the afternoon cocktails, the languid conversations in lawn chairs, being with the boys again after a month apart. We took small, local trips to Lake Geneva and the massive Volo Auto Museum (with its 5 antique malls!), made burgers on the grill, took evening boat rides, read books, did laundry, and unpacked the car enough to clear up the back seat for the ride home with the kids.
On the day before departure, we stopped in at Jack Benny Center for the Arts in Waukegan's Bowen Park, where we'd donated one of our final Little Free Libraries. Claudia welcomed us with open arms, leading us to the freshly installed library (wrapped in a red-plaid bow for its official ribbon-cutting) and offering up two bottles of water. We'd meant to ride that day, give our legs a little spin of 25 miles, but the roads to Waukegan (at least the ones that led straight there) were not particular scenic of bicycle-friendly, so we'd hitched the tandem to the back of the car. Nevertheless, we had a sweet early afternoon celebration with our Tiny Traveling Library books strewn onto a picnic blanket, a few tandem poems, and a hearty collection of donated books which promptly stuffed the library.
And then, a two-day roadtrip back to New Jersey, with the boys itchy and testy in the back seat. We raced through the interstate but even that took over nine hours to Cleveland Heights, OH, where we stopped for the night (and the best burgers in the world) at Jean's house. Jean had received the last of our Little Free Library donations and had installed a Jonatha Brooke Honorary Library on her front lawn, complete with lyrics from "Be True" (and the movie "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure"). She let the boys test out her pale aqua scooter while we caught up on her front porch. After dinner, we all walked to Sweetie Fry for amazing handcrafted ice cream, then staggered into bed. We slept hard and woke to the smell of coffee, biscuits, and bacon. The morning was sweet and peaceful, and we all tried out the slack line outside before saying goodbye and finding the highway again. The boys were thankfully quiet most of the way back, save for a small stretch during the final 2 hours of the drive when we were all ready to pull our hair out from exhaustion.
We pulled up to our driveway just before 5:30 p.m., and these past 5 days we've been returning to our life here, unpacking and redistributing the things we took with us, taking inventories of what we need to restock, cleaning up the studio to prepare for next week's art camp, getting Charlie up and running for nightly football practice, trying to get Evan to do his summer reading, and making lists of the what-nexts. Settling down and settling in.
It's not easy. There is a feeling of overstimulation, of being pulled in too many directions, of needing to occupy too many identities. On the road, it was simple - ride the bike, write poems, repeat. There was a constancy and consistency of movement and routine. Here, we find ourselves in staccato, stopping and starting a collection of disparate activities that have us flagging by 5 o'clock. Deep sleep has been necessary but hard to come by. The day careens on as we try to steady footing.
And still, of course, we keep moving. As we must. Today it's a presentation at Kateri Day Camp in Morganville, NJ. Tomorrow we host our fellow tandem cyclists Francien and Tijn, who are wrapping up their cross-country adventure (much more impressive than ours, given that they ride a back-to-back recumbent). This weekend, we finalize the studio cleanup and prepare for almost a dozen tween girls descending on Monday. But we'll steal off for a night or two before school starts - we know when we need to catch a breath - before we start designing and planning and plotting for the workshops, events, and adventures to come.
To check out our upcoming offerings (including a few retreats for adults with room still available), visit http://eepurl.com/0XWfj.