The Road Less Traveled

K I saguaro
Wifely and I and a stately saguaro

Welcome to my writing, adventures and travel blog. I’ve been after myself to write on the regular for awhile, and Wifely and the kids are out of the house, I have a tall mug of hot butter coffee and some time. I’m going to try using The Daily Post’s daily writing prompts for now and see where it takes me.

Today’s prompt:

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

I have to choose a moment this summer when Wifely and I began to seriously discuss the possibility of moving from Indiana (our home state and our place of residence for the past 14 years) to Arizona. We’re both feeling conflicted. The idea of uprooting from our home state and transplanting out West again–we lived in Oregon in the late 90’s and early 00’s–sounds so ambitious, so big that at first, we really can’t even imagine all of the steps that need to happen.

From the beginning, I was all in. The last time I was in Arizona on a guys trip to the Grand Canyon, I can clearly see this moment where I turned to Aaron, a lifelong desert-dweller and said, “I really love your state.”

His eyes softened, “Thanks, so do I.”

It was an intimate moment between two friends of nearly 25 years. Less than a year later, tectonic plates of our lives began to shift and a plan began to come together. A plan that will (hopefully) lead us to the Grand Canyon State.

Big sister, Little brother

However, the prompt says, “Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

That other alternate life is the one that I expected, that I had been working on for the past five or six years. The one that I’m still living in right now.

About six years ago, I was putting the nails into the coffin of an less-than-successful organic, grass-based farm business. I was the father of a six-month old baby boy and a four-year-old daughter. We were happy as a family and our farm business helped us to eat quite well, but Wifely’s business was growing successfully and it no longer made sense for me to take work hours away from her to put towards what was a break-even sort of farm business. Add to that equation my newly-retired father who lived on the farm and therefore absorbed the brunt of the daily chore allowance. He loved and enjoyed farm work, but he wouldn’t allow me to pay him and, to be quite honest, there wasn’t usually much money to do so.

I felt a burden of son guilt. It weighed upon me and I needed to be free of it. We’d already sold our flock of grassfed sheep and our old hens were sold off as well. A handful of brood cows and a bunch of supplies and materials were all that remained. Those were sold as well and Brown Family Farm of northeast Indiana became one for the history books. I learned a lot in those 10 years and have very few regrets for the experience.

However, I looked at a photo of myself from a visit to the Florida Keys with my inlaws and thought, “Who is that guy?” Shortly after, we joined our local YMCA and I began to attend cycling classes regularly. When the instructor couldn’t find a sub, she asked me to cover. This was wayyyy out of my comfort zone, but it was then that I decided to say yes to things that made me uncomfortable. Today, I’m about 75 pounds lighter, a fitness nerd and I’ve run a couple of 50 mile ultramarathons.

Four years later (two years ago), I was looking for some sort of supplemental income as I didn’t feel as if I was contributing to our household income that much and we needed the money. I saw a posting for a position at the public library and applied. It was at a branch that would mean a considerable drive and after talking with the branch manager, I decided not to continue with the application process. However, a few months later, a position at the main library opened and I became part of the Children’s Room staff. I remember telling my running buddy that this felt like a sort of position that could grow into full-time library work, perhaps pursue my MLIS and retire from this sort of work in another 25 years or so.

That is the backbone, the root, of that alternate life, the life I’m–we’re currently living. Our kids would prefer the alternate life, I think, but they’re 6 and 10 years old now and, quite honestly, they don’t know what they want. The status quo is easier, it’s predictable and it’s safe. I could be happy with it, if that’s what we decided is best, but right now, in this moment, I crave change, I crave adventure. I’m ready to sell this house (in case you’d like to buy a lovely home in rural NE Indiana) and I’m ready to reboot, to look for a new job, a new house and an adventurous, loving life in the great state of Arizona.

Havasupai grand canyon
Havasupai creek in the Grand Canyon

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