Tonight I tried to wade through the papers of my financial life.  Not sure why I thought tonight would be a good time, but I guess wanted at least some sense of accomplishment today and a feeling that I am pulling a few things back into order.  I didn’t get too far but it’s got me reflecting again on how exactly I ended up here.

Last couple of months, my life has unravelled a bit: my team at work split up right as we were gearing up for a major deadline on a multi-year project, my cat started having odd neurological problems, my neck went from chronic aching to a full seize-up, and my mom went from new treatment hope to hospice.

Strangely enough, my brother had a similar tsunami of misfortune.  A week before our mother passed away, we got together to visit her knowing it was probably our last visit.  On a Friday evening, as soon as we could pack our things after work, stilled stunned by a week of one disaster after another, we headed down south in his 1977 camper van.  We made it across the border to a state park nestled in the Pacific Northwest forest.  I was surprised how well I slept, and was relieved that my neck didn’t act up despite sleeping in the cramped upper bunk.  We woke up to birds singing and cooked a decent breakfast on the stove.  After several cups of coffee, we meandered down down a scenic byway to our hometown…

My brother and I returned to the same park on the way back north.  But this time, I woke up far too early in the morning and knew any attempt at sleeping would be hopeless.  I went for a walk to the beach instead.  I stumbled around on narrow trails around the rocky cliffs and watched the chill breeze lap up the waves.  I found a small grotto down near the water where I curled up to close my eyes once more and calm my mind.  I couldn’t come up with a coherent thought or purpose.   But I was able to enjoy the scenery and managed to slowly wake myself from my groggy state.

My poor brother on the hand woke up to realize we ran out of coffee the day before.  It was all he could do to cook the breakfast sausage, and I took up the task of trolling the campground for campers who wanted to barter coffee for sausages.  I quickly found out that no one wants to accept sausages from a stranger, cooked or not.  But people do take pity on campers without coffee and will generously help out.

Before we left the campground, my brother and I took a nice walk up the hillside winding through the temperate rainforest and ending at a small lake near the summit. We returned to the camper to find it wouldn’t start.  Not so surprising to us though; we had already noticed partway through our trip the battery wasn’t holding a charge.  Thankfully we had a backup battery to jump from, and at this point, the inconvenience of jumping the van on every startup seemed like amusement given everything else we had going on.  We reminisced about our jinxed car trips from years past (it’s quite an eclectic collection).  And we made it back north that weekend neither early nor late.  Neither of us were any closer to solving the problems troubling us and we knew it was only a matter of days before we would get another blow, but we felt resilient.

That blow came exactly a week later when we got the call our mother passed away.  My brother and I took another trip down, this time in a rented car.  During the drive, I told my brother I had a crazy idea to rent an RV for the next week and just spend some time in the forest.  He told me bluntly, “Do it.”  And so I did, with my loving partner cautiously following along.  Surprisingly, we didn’t have any mishaps on the trip.

Photos from May 28, 2014


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