Tuesday, April 8

A Simple Plan

Nearly thirty years ago, The Boss Rabbit and I embarked on our adventure in suburban homesteading. We bought a house. A starter house. A home that we could build some equity in, and when the time was right, convert that equity into a newer, larger home. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We're still here. The promise of the suburban dream remains a promise, muted somewhat by the reality of two people who would rather do any number of things beside working on a tract home out on the first ring. Really, we mean well, we're just easily distracted.

Truth is, we just had other things to do - we had a business to run, a couple of old cars to fiddle with, a hot air balloon to fly, kids and grandkids, and well, we just ran out of time and forward momentum. Inertia and denial are powerful drugs, easily administered. Overdoses are common, and while usually not lethal, they can be disfiguring and permanent.

With the changes of the last few years to cope with, and the virtual demise of advertising photography and my willingness to participate in it, there really hasn't been that much liquid cash to dump back into This Old House. We considered an apartment, maybe a loft; something that would liberate us from the day-to-day upkeep of Rancho Conejo, and the guilt that comes from not doing said upkeep.

Then there's this:

Neither the Boss Rabbit nor I want to spend our (ahem) Golden Years in Kansas City. We've seen it. Easily-irritated progressives shouldn't live here. We've also seen the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Chicago, the Intermountain Desert West, any number of roadside attractions within a half-tank of Kansas City, and not that long ago, we finally set foot in Scotland. We have know for some time that we were not suited for where we are. We have benefitted for many years from the low cost of living here, without actually doing much real living.

With the realization that we're approaching a more fragile, even brittle age, it dawned on the BR and me that we didn't have any desire whatever to grow old and eventually achieve room temperature in Kansas City. It's just too redundant.

We're leaving.

Of course, since we are who we are, we're not going to move, exactly. We're going nomad - move and keep moving. We intend to shuffle off the mortal coil of home ownership in favor of a trailer and a gas-guzzling Suburban. We will finally be able to spend as much time as necessary to catch the light in Utah, the seasons in New England and winters in Arizona or Florida.

Serving Suggestion, not our actual vehicles.
Photographically, this is a boon. Time is a luxury that isn't usually afforded you on holiday - two weeks off requires a certain ability to accept whatever images are presented you so you can make the next stop and still get back to work on the agreed-upon day.

If weather presents a hurdle to a photographic challenge in say, Coos Bay, we can wait it out, even if it's only for one image. If the BR wants to wander the neighborhoods of Victoria Hill in Seattle, we have time to do that. The time spent waiting for the planet to turn can lend itself to journaling the life on the road and maybe even finding an interested reader or two. I will have ample time to write, and with some luck, experiences to write about; images to share. We will maintain this life until we grow weary of the Bedouin way, grow weary of one another, or give out physically.

So, we spend a lot of the next twelve months shoveling thirty years of accumulated crap into the willing if confused arms of children, grandchildren, thrift stores, and the drone army of estate-sale commandos, who pick at the flesh of the recent dead like flesh-eating beetles. Removing the books alone may make the house list to one side.

At the end we'll have a house, a trailer and a large Chevrolet. The last few pieces get shoved into the trailer as the house is sold, Moxie the cat is installed on her portable throne and we put Kansas City in our rear-view mirror.

There will be adjustments. The BR and I are both dedicated packrats, and I'm still parceling the remainders of my thirty years accumulation of photo equipment to worthy successors and future image-makers. Learning to live in a confined space has its own challenges. I'm a big guy. My daily ablutions will be like playing the trombone in a phone booth, but I will adjust. We will adjust. We will learn to live within our aluminum and fiberglass boundaries.
Note: The value of this plan has just been validated by the sudden, unexpected death of one of my compadres from the old neighborhood. We were brothers beyond the flesh for more than fifty years. Shit.
Then, right on cue, my friend Jan wrote this morning:
"So let me ask you: What do you really, really, really want to do? What motivation do you need? How long are you willing to work? How hard are you willing to work? Who (besides me, I'm here!) is going to support you?
Today is the perfect day to start, my friend. Turn your world upside down. It's a really beautiful view." 
Tracey Leiweke once gave me this bit of insight during a photo shoot with George Brett, "In Kansas City, no idea is good enough." It's true. Our collective inferiority complex manifests itself as a sort of snarling victimhood, a Boss Tom concrete-paved pouty three-year-old that will hold its breath until it turns blue if you don't tell it that it's just as good as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or (jeez-o-pete) St. Louis.

This is a town where you still can't get a train to the airport, a bus that actually goes anywhere useful, or a cab when you need one. Downtown is a Yellow-free zone, save the corner of Twelfth and Wyandotte, and even then cabs are rare unless there is a granfalloon of paunchy, barbeque-addled businessmen in town wondering where all the hookers are. That cab ride will set you back at least twenty bucks, chum.

We will miss Kansas City. And then we won't.

Update: First tangible evidence of our insanity.

Thus spake the rabbit.

9 comments:

Jan said...

Well, holy crap. If I had known you would take anything I said seriously, I wouldn't have written it. DON'T GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Pause.)

OK. I'm breathing again. You and the BR are brave and brilliant and talented and the time is right for this grand adventure. I know we don't get together often, but I will miss you both once the clean-up and pack-up and move-out is done and you hit the road. You know how much I love your writing and your photography, so I will look forward to even more of it from the road.

I believe this calls for a few more dinner dates before the road takes you to new vistas.

Time is fascinating, isn't it? Go make the most of it! And any time you wander back this way, you can always park your home at our home.

Le Grand Lapin said...

Jan,

We will definitely get together soon. This has been in the works for some time, and the reality that we could never afford to move to Scotland left this as the only practical (!) alternative to sticking around.

There is much to see, and we both wish we had started sooner.

Keith Sader said...

Best of luck on your new journeys. Enjoy where the road takes you!

Le Grand Lapin said...

Thank you, Keith.

I believe the journey will be fantastic.

Jo Coleman said...

No wonder I have been unable to get you out of my mind for the past couple of weeks.
My initial response in in agreement with the "holy crap!" However, I envy anyone brave enough to pursue their passion. And, to have a comrade to participate in the adventure. I am happy and sad. No more "Bud moments". I will just have to ready about all that you are experiencing.
Here's hoping that we can have one last HURRAH before you head out!
The best to you both!!!

Jo Coleman said...

No wonder I have been unable to get you out of my mind for the past couple of weeks.
My initial response in in agreement with the "holy crap!" However, I envy anyone brave enough to pursue their passion. And, to have a comrade to participate in the adventure. I am happy and sad. No more "Bud moments". I will just have to ready about all that you are experiencing.
Here's hoping that we can have one last HURRAH before you head out!
The best to you both!!!

Le Grand Lapin said...

Thanks, Jo.

We'll round up a couple of hurrahs and a yeehaw or two for sure. We're not leaving North America, and connectivity is nearly universal. Emails, phone calls and posts will keep the circle unbroken.

Tom Parker said...

Wow, Bud, this is startling to say the least. I wish you the best while envying the hell out of you, with caveats. My wife and I came to the same conclusion 14 years ago when living (or going through the motions) in Denver, and finally summoned the courage to sell everything off and escape to a small town in Kansas. Where we had to reinvent ourselves, which we knew; what we didn't know was that it would be so rewarding, exciting, and enriching. Sure, the freelance life is a tough road, but the rewards are worth it. I can't wait to see where you road takes you, and best of all, to read it in words and photographs.

Le Grand Lapin said...

Tom, it all boils down to this: we're not having any fun here. There are hundreds of places we'd both like to see and photograph, and a number of places we'd like to see again, but this time around, without the time constraints that we've normally had to live with.

The pulling up of our deep taproots is still in the hypothetical phase, but we figure if we continue to accept it as fact, we'll continue to move toward that goal. Not "if", but "when".

Succeed or fail, we'll have some damned good stories to tell, and after all, isn't that why we're here?