Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer Raids - Driving, Family, and War

There's times when you need to just get away, to venture out into the world and see what you can in whatever way that you can. For me, that is far more frequent than most as I tend to go on summer raids annually.

In the past, they were short and easy trips to events throughout the summer. Things like Anthrocon, Pennsic War, and the renn faire.

These days, it's a bit more involved and this year is the largest of them in quiet some time. 5,500 miles of traveling, a month on the road, and a lot of time to figure out where my place in the world really is.

First off, you're probably think that I'm nuts and/or lucky to be able to take the time and afford such a large trip. It's mostly afforded by the advent of the Adventure Wagon and sleeping inside of it, or the backpacking tent during this. Also, the kindness of friends and campsites vs hotels and other very expensive means of accommodation.

That aside, the first leg of this year's Summer Raid had me going through many states I wasn't that familiar with. Nebraska and Iowa being the two largest for me, as I haven't been to either and they're quite beautiful too! The rest, I've been to a few times in the past and really just wanted to avoid Kansas at all costs, long story there but it involves another cross country trek to find myself.

Anyway, my journey to the first of the raiding targets, visiting family, led me through 10 different states and covered 2200 miles over the course of 4 days. A lot to do in 4 days, but also fairly relaxing.

I never once felt rushed, and sleeping in the back of the Adventure Wagon was pretty satisfying too, I'm hoping that on the way back it's a bit more comfortable as I now know what I'm doing a bit more on that front.

However, once arriving in New Jersey, it was a jolt of emotions and expectation that rarely meets with reality all that well. Not only has the trip so far given me a lot of time to think on my own life and recent events, but realizing that I've been away from family for the past 18 months has also made it far more clear that I have very little in common with them.

At a distance, things seem fine and normal if one were to overhear a phone call or see cards from birthdays and holidays. In person, you see two very different worlds colliding and causing a mess of things.

I have a brother who thinks my being gay is a massive problem and avoids me like the plague, but a mother that lives on another planet in orbit of a distant star which bares no resemblance to the planet we know and love even in the slightest. Don't get me wrong, they're family and I wouldn't wish any ill will on them, but they both live in a vacuum. And it's one they desperately need out of before they suffocate themselves with how little they have in life.

All of this comes from a place of knowing that both have been vibrant and full of life in the past. They didn't hide in their rooms, or feel the need to have a drink to gain an appetite...or more to the reality, deal with their emotions. They loved to travel, see things, and go places in the name of living life. Now? They are just hollow shells of themselves and while they do care and do still love with all they have, they have no joy from it, only sorrow and that hurts to see. It's difficult to parse and figure out when you're living a life of adventure, daring, and facing fears. To see those that helped raise you living so completely opposite of what you know...it's heartbreaking.

Top that off with the other issues we have, and roughly 72 hours is all we can spend before someone says something to spark another off and a fight will happen. It's never anything major, but it just shows how far apart we are that small things can spark firestorms. And, while we do recover rather quickly from them, it still dents what should be a time of celebration. Again, a mere 72hours into a visit that's a year and a half in the making and a fight that tears the mood down entirely. It shouldn't be that way, but it is.

Why am I talking about this so much? A large chunk, nearly 1/5 of my trip is here with them. It was a large reason for even doing this and going s far off the path I would've had to. I did it because I wanted to, and the amazing thing is that I'm faced with the idea while we do love each other and call ourselves family, we're really not and truly haven't been for a very long time. There's glimpses of that life, and flashes of it race along the surface once in a while, but it's likely never to return again and that saddens me.

Journey's like the one I'm on are often ones of self evaluation in the face of different cultures, experiences, hardships, and life. Going from the culture of the life that I live, and those close to me, to this one of those who raised me, and the entire country between has shed light things in a very intriguing manner. It's going to take a lot of time to full process this and I'm sure that over the next leg of my journey I'll have time to do just that.

That next portion being a trek back across Pennsylvania to Pennsic War.

The annual madness of 10,000-15,000 gathering in the woods of Western Pennsylvania for large scale medieval reenactment of battles, merriment, learning, seeing old friends, and other debauchery.

It's "home" to me, and the point of this whole madness. Definitely going to have quite a few stories from that to come!