Sunday, July 10, 2011
Thelma & Louise's Most Excellent L.A. Adventure. Part 1. Intro.
For those who have followed along, my son has some special challenges and has had, all of his life. So our relationship has always been stormy, while, at the same time, our bond is extremely close.
He needs a lot of stimulation in his world, and I'm pretty much a recluse. I like quiet, he likes noise and movement. To coin Donny and Marie "I'm a little bit country, he's a little bit rock and roll."
I don't travel well independently, nor do I have anything resembling expendable income. Travel, and cities overwhelm me into a sniveling fetal position. It's been 9 years since I last saw my kiddo. He was 18 when I saw him last, and I traveled to San Luis Obispo for a week around Thanksgiving, spending most of that time alone in a motel while he did whatever it is he does.
The inner calling to see my cub...to sniff him and touch him and snuggle him, kept knocking on my brain. Then one day, a friend of mine said "I've been thinking about this for a long time. I know how important it is to you, and if you want to go, I'll go with you to support you." Wow. She...who will be forever referred to as "Thelma" for purposes of both anonymity and for the dynamic duo we became, had no idea what a gift she was offering, or the adventure that laid ahead for us.
We may have begun our initial planning in January, and our tickets were booked in late January. We planned, and studied, and researched the areas where we would be going. Instead of having a focused expectation of my visit with my son, we planned a girl trip. A trip where he could be worked in anywhere and plans could change at will. The last time I saw him, my expectations were not appropriate for his lifestyle. It's hard to go so far and spend so much and realize that an hour is about all he could stomach of me anyway. We're from different planets, us two. But every once in a while, the planets line up and we meet in the middle. This was one such time.
I altered my expectations, created a trip that would be fun no matter what, threw most of my caution (of which there is always a lot) to the wind, and so began "Thelma and Louise's Most Excellent L.A. Adventure". I'll be "Louise" since that's my middle name for real...my friend will be Thelma. Warrior moms, and kindred spirits who set out to challenge our limits, achieve a goal, shake off the shadows of our pasts and break on through to the other side. Other than that, we're nothing like Thelma and Louise. There was no driving off a cliff to escape the law, no drinking, no random sexual encounters, no shooting...really no wildness...just two women, who set out together, having each others backs.
From previous posts, you may know that I'm an empath. Traveling can be challenging because I feel the emotions of so many people, and those with issues are drawn to me. Alive beings or dead ones, the lost, bewildered, ill, and needy find comfort being near me...but it sucks the life and energy right out of me and I end up sick.
"Thelma's" job (hereafter referred to without quotes because it's annoying to type them...you'll just know that's not her real name), was to be my energetic buffer and guardian. And boy howdy did she take her job seriously and do it well! Her experience with horses came in mighty handy. I learned quickly to not even question. She kept her eyes peeled like a hawk, and if there was any of the above mentioned types near me, or approaching me, she might gently say "look over here, not over there", or loop her arm in mine and gently steer me in a totally new direction. I just followed. It worked quite well. Too bad she can't do that with me all the time! But it did teach me that it is not a bad thing to turn away and avoid as a measure of self preservation. It's not the same as dehumanizing a being in need, it simply means that I need to find other ways to give...sometimes directly interfacing with the truly needy beings of this world is just not healthy for me. I can be less curious, and I can steer myself in new directions. Or so I think.
We problem-solved extensively before the trip, about persons, related to me, strange to me, dead or alive and what our potential responses could be. We're both trained in social work so we put our professional hats on and got down to it. We made plans for sightseeing but left the door open to simply lay on the beach or stay in the motel if we felt so inclined. No pressure, no expectations placed on ourselves. We went with the flow after the best laid plans had been laid. We made each other braver. Together we were stronger.
I can barely drive to the grocery store, so my She-Rah friend, did ALL of the driving on the trip and I did what I could to help navigate with our handy dandy MapQuest directions. Despite the bad press MapQuest sometimes gets, those directions served us well. That, and L.A. area is well marked and has many good signs. We were never truly lost, but were often on the wrong end of the right street. She's amazing. I'll be forever grateful to her for this supreme gift that she gave me. It set the stage for future attractions. We found we travel quite well together and are very compatible in our individual needs. We even slept in the same King sized bed and are both not the types really to share space with others at all.
That's the intro...now the party gets started. We booked and reserved and planned and strategized and dreamed together for about 6 months. A few days before we were to leave, my son stated in an email that none of those days were going to work for him, that he had to work all of them, and that he couldn't alter his schedule, or get up earlier or adapt in any way. So we left without a plan for that. We just knew we would figure it out. In that regard, we may have been a bit like Thelma and Louise...we joined hands and jumped into the unknown.