Sleeping in Cars

I will be setting forth on my adventure in solo travel in 18 days.  At this moment, I have a definite plan on my route and the cities I will stay over night in.  I do not, however, have a place to sleep in most of those cities as of yet.

Peeking outside the Box

Peeking outside the Box

I do have the first 3 nights covered.  Ever heard of the website, airbnb.com?  Some friends told me about it.  You type in the search box, where you are going and the price range you can pay, click, up pops multiple pictures of complete strangers willing to open their homes to you.  These “hosts” charge a minimal fee to rent out a guest bedroom, a shared room, or their entire place.  This just seems weird to me!  Being a long time “Little-Trust Leslie”, it seems a wee bit intimidating to walk into an unknown person’s home with an overnight bag.  I mean, what the heck do you say?  “Honey, I’m home”?  I have no idea who these people are!  What if they are serial killers, robbers, or worse… non-coffee drinkers!  Guess what?  I booked anyway, 1 room in Little Rock and another in Albuquerque!  Fear be DAMNED!   Total cost for 2 nights, $50.  What a deal to take another tiny step towards my Journey to Courage.  The other of the 3 nights, I actually splurged $43 (big spender) on a room in one of the original Route 66 motels for nostalgia sake.  You got to do it, at least once.

Road Trip

Due to very limited funds, I have also been researching “car camping” as an option to save some major bucks.  I had no idea how many people just up and go on road trips with virtually no idea where they will lay their heads, shower, or brush their teeth.  At first, it was unimaginable that I would have the guts to even contemplate the idea, but you know, it’s kind of growing on me.  When I close my eyes,  I envision a group of hippie people decked out in bell-bottoms and tie-dyed halter tops.  They are driving down the road, windows down, in a 1966 Volkswagen van, covered in peace signs.  I can hear the faint sound The Byrds singing “Turn, Turn, Turn” on the radio as they passed by me.  With this vision of pure happy abandon and fearlessness, road tripping and sleeping in my car, seemed less scary and much cooler.  Not that I’m all about the “cool factor” but, I have always prided myself in being a hippie at heart. Sleeping in my car at a WalMart parking lot or a Truck Stop has to be safer than sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere, right.  One extra point, I have no idea how to set up a tent anyway.

Eat up!

Eat up!

I thought driving across the country alone was a large enough challenge for me to face, now I’m adding all these bonus dares to myself.  Well, I’ve always been an all or nothing kind of gal.  Sleeping in cars and staying with strangers may be just the piece of humble pie I need to help keep me confident and sober on this journey.  God always has a reason, I just have to eat up and move on down the road.

Momma Said

One of the many blessings I have received in recovery is the new and exciting relationship I have with my mom. Anyone who knows me, understands what a huge deal this is.  Let’s just say, Mom and I never, ever, saw eye-to-eye.  If Momma said the sky was blue, I would argue it was black.  If she said I couldn’t do something, I would do my damnedest to prove her wrong. If she said I couldn’t go somewhere or gave me a curfew,  I would defy her.  She is the 1st to admit, I was…well…a bit of a challenge. Pig-headed, difficult, defiant and my personal favorite, strong-willed, have all been used to describe my otherwise delightful personality.  She and I butted heads from the moment I exited the womb!  I probably didn’t even think she birthed me right.

momma 1

Over the last few months, Mom and I have grown stronger in our honesty, understanding and respect for one another.  It is amazing!  She (with my Dad right by her side) has done everything possible to learn about the disease of alcoholism and addiction.  She has embraced my illness and recovery with no judgment, an unwavering support and best of all, unconditional love.  I had never even given her a chance to really know me, much less had the desire to know her.  Guess what!  Surprise!  She is a pretty cool chic!  In one of our latest heart-to-hearts, she said something that astounded me.  She said, “Leslie, I always knew you were different.  Even as a little girl, I knew you were not like your sisters and I didn’t know what to do with you.”  Wow!  I had no idea she felt that way.  Most addicts I know, admit they never felt quite “normal” (whatever that is). My experience was the same.  I did everything I could to try and fit in but never hit the mark.  I felt socially awkward and learned early to be the master of many faces.  I pretended to be like others; said what they said, dressed like they did,  hung out with their friends, joined their groups and even tried being a good cheerleader.  Example:  Summer before 10th grade, our squad went to the beach with chaperones to get to know each other better.  The other girls told our chaperones we were all going for a bike ride.  While the others were peddling their hearts out, I was on the beach, getting drunk with a bunch of older boys I had just met.  See what I mean, I did not just march to the beat of a different drummer, I ran to the beat of a completely different instrument!  I had a different face and personality for each group of people I hung around.  From the outside looking in, I probably appeared to be like everyone else, but inside, I felt like an outcast.  I put on a pretty good show, Academy Award winning, if I do say so myself.  Truth be told, I always preferred to be by myself, to isolate.  In my own world, I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone else.  I wanted so badly to feel differently than I did,  to feel included, to feel comfortable in my own skin.  When I discovered alcohol for the 1st time, I finally did feel different.  I was funny, I was pretty, I could have conversations with people, I was invincible and boy, was I an awesome dancer!  It felt “normal” and I liked it…alot.  I didn’t know it then but I had just met my best friend for life.  So, Momma was right (please, don’t tell her I said that!).  I am different and now we know why. momma 2

I’ll wrap up with this,  about a week ago, she said something that truly touched my heart.  Momma said, “Leslie, you know I have had reservations about you making this trip alone,  but now I believe in, and have faith in, your faith”.  Wow, we’ve come a long way Momma and I sure do love you.

Recalculating

Yesterday, my dad and I were reviewing my travel map and plans for the trip.  He was convinced that I need a Trip Tik from AAA with all the gazillion maps and all the bazillion books about each state.  Of course, I don’t need all that paper waste, I have a cell phone with all the latest and greatest travel apps!  Am I not a smart enough woman to figure out the newest technological gadgets?  Ok…truth be told,  I actually asked Dad to get the AAA info for me, just didn’t want you to think I was an old fart (ego alert).  I know it’s old school but, guess what, I’m just not that tech savvy to entrust my life to electronics alone.  Now that I’ve come clean, I feel better and can get on with the point of all of this.  So, while we were looking carefully at my tentative and over-packed itinerary, it dawned on me that I hadn’t even done the math to see if there was time for everything on my list.  I am trying to get to San Francisco by April 20th for Joseph’s birthday, right?  Told you before, my brain works a little backwards.

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My list of “things to see” was long and diverse.  It included everything from God’s beautiful, natural creations to cheesy, superficial, totally unimportant diversions.  As I gazed at the broad spectrum of my “must-see” places, it occurred to me, I had gotten side tracked.  This list that I had spent days researching and adding too, started out with gloriously majestic sights like, the Grand Canyon, Redwood Forest, the corner in Winslow, Arizona, the Petrified Forest then gradually developed into places like Rodeo Drive, Sunset Strip, and Venice Beach. (Alright, so some of you may not think the corner in Winslow, Arizona is exactly spiritual and I respect that, but The Eagles are pretty darn special to me so it stays!)  Anyway, as I kept studying the list, a light bulb went off in my brain (or God popped me upside the head).   Clarity struck like a lightening bolt!  Hello, Leslie…the whole purpose of this road trip is to connect with my Higher Power on a deeper level, trust my path is His will, overcome the darkness of fear and manage to stay sober in the process.  Shopping on Rodeo Drive, chance meetings with movie stars and dining at the “it” restaurants have no place in this mission.  I had planned an entire day of sight seeing in Los Angeles, why??  Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize there are some nice and “normal” folks in LA, but my plan did not include stopping in for nice chat and hot cup of tea with the Smiths on Main Street.  My list included hitting all of the places where a mere commoner can gawk at the “somebodies” of the world.  This world of make believe in which a person’s social status or worthiness is determined by “who” they are wearing or “who” they are seen with is superficial, material nothingness to me.  I have never been impressed by it, so why was I planning to waste a full 24 hours of precious drive time to experience it.  Having had this revelation, my very newly developing internal GPS said, “Recalculating”.  I am changing the plan to bypass Los Angeles completely,  in turn I will be able to take my time driving up the coast on Pacific Highway and arrive in San Fran in time to start my son’s birthday party a day early.  Now we’re making better sense!Rethinking stuff

While I was in active addiction, I would never have had anything close to an epiphany like this.  I would not have second guessed my original plans or the thought process behind them.  My old way of thinking was completely self-centered, selfish and frivolous.  I still struggle to catch these behaviors before they run amuck in my head and make a mess of things.  My new way of thinking is more centered on my true purpose in this life.  I believe that purpose is to be of service to my Creator and to help those still suffering from this disease.  It’s not always what I want, but it’s what I am compelled to do.  Now, as my brain continues to heal,  I am starting to recognize when things seem a little off or not right with my thoughts.  I can pause and reassess my motives before acting on impulse.  I can stop and pray for guidance then wait for the answer.  Sometimes I don’t get answers right away and I must exercise patience (this is not my best quality, I hear it is a learned behavior which takes much practice).  Sometimes the answers are right in front of face, all I have to do is keep an open mind and open eyes to see them.  Something I am learning, through this recovery process, is to slow down and be still.  When I do this, I can make sure my thoughts or plans are aligned with God’s will and not my own.  I’m still not always sure I’m making the right decisions, and still doubt myself a lot of times, but I am realizing that just becoming aware and “recalculating” my misguided intentions before acting on them, is a pretty good start.  Progress, not perfection.