As we departed our last campground in Moodus, Connecticut and turned out the driveway towards our new rental in Youngsville, New York, the mood in the cab shifted a couple of times. After two miles, Beth said she wanted to drive the truck. She had a 1:00 pm Zoom call, so Beth offered to take the driver’s seat until our lunch break. We switched at the next stop sign.
Switching to the passenger seat was anxiety-provoking for me, probably because I’m so accustomed to being in the driver’s seat. And because Beth doesn’t drive often, she’s apt to be a little more nervous, too. (Truth be told, I unsuccessfully hide my nerves while I’m driving. But that’s another story.)
Ten minutes into the drive, Beth said, “Did you lock the door to the camper?” This is SOP when we drive since it can pop open when we hit a bump. My first thought was, “You put up the stairs and closed the door. Why didn’t you lock it up, goshdarnit?” Of course, I didn’t say that, but I thought it, so this changed the already thickening tension in the truck.
Beth then began to look for a place to pull over so that we could lock the door, but we were driving down winding single-lane country roads. So, I’m saying “Relax. It’s not an emergency. We’ll find a place to pull over,” while Beth is gripping the steering wheel ever tighter and not agreeing with me one bit. Are you married people getting the picture? I thought so.
Anyway, a stop light eventually appeared and yours truly jumped out, locked the door and we returned to the drive. I tried to say something nice like, “It’s good that you realized that before we got on the highway,” but I was still thinking, “Thank God it didn’t pop open because then Beth would be angrier and the day would go to shit.”
By this time, we were in the middle of a city that we had to pass through to get to the highways, so there were a few tight turns to make which Beth approached with an understandable amount of concentration and, if truth be told, fear.
“You much prefer driving on the highways,” I said to cut the tension.
“You better believe it,” she replied (reply cleaned up for PG audiences).
Thankfully, the mood shifted to a more relaxed place when we pulled onto the highway and we started talking again. I think that we both recognized that there was some sadness and anxiety taking place inside of us and that we were projecting those emotions onto one another instead of talking about the feelings. As is the case with conflicts like this, we eventually acknowledged what was happening and our breath returned to normal. “There’s a lot of changes happening,” one of us said and the other nodded in agreement.
Another major fight was avoided. Hooray for us.
The next significant switch occurred for me as we entered Sullivan County, about 30 minutes from our final destination. I was not expecting a strong, fearful response to this next move. After all, we’ve been leaving and arriving at places non-stop for seven months! Why was this feeling so different?
Even though we were not buying a home and knew that we would be leaving this rental in 8-10 months, it still felt like I was doing something risky and scary. I said it aloud to Beth. Ten minutes later while turning off the highway, Beth said that she was beginning to feel it, too.
The difference between how we dealt with our fear in the morning was much different than the way we handled it in later. As a couple, we always succeed when we communicate versus try to bury our feelings and wing it. Evidently, this is a lesson that we have to learn over and over, but I know that we’re getting better at it as is evidenced by the way we changed our approach from morning to afternoon.
The rest of the day was fairly blissful. We met our landlord and new friend, Don, and his wife, Helene. They live in the big house and will be here for a few more weeks before heading to Santa Monica for the colder months. We parked and leveled the camper, saged and blessed the home, brought in essentials for the evening, let Bradley get the run of the big lawn, and made a simple dinner of leftovers and a salad.
After dinner, we went out for ice cream and then came back and watched the stars. It was a clear night, so there were hundreds of them to see.
Waking up this morning, I said, “I think I can really like this place.” It’s good to have a home.