Tonight I walked about four miles with my kids. It wasn’t supposed to be that long, and none of us were wearing the right shoes for it, but it is what it is.
The reason we kept going was because we started talking about adventures. We are, all three of us, adventurers by nature. Not ones to be held down by societal norms, we are “the weird family” in school, the strange household of dad, two boys, an odd quiet-ish roommate, and a totally bizarre dog. This is the neighborhood house that people whisper and wonder about. We have the “weird” house on the street; the only double lot, the only house with odd brown brick arches and a creepy wrought-iron gate.
We embrace our oddness.
A few weeks ago we got into the car and drove to New York City for no good reason. Funded by the generosity of friends, eking by on an absolute shoestring of a budget, getting into all kinds of trouble (yes, my 11 year old son and I were at a NYPD towing lot in a shady area of Queens at 3 AM, with $250 in cash to give to the toady of a guy named ‘Punch’), and generally throwing the middle finger to the world, we had an absolute blast and made some awesome memories.
Therefore, when Kyle (my 10 year old son) proposed tonight that “he could just keep on walking right on out of this state,” I eagerly embraced the idea.
"Let’s walk across the country," I said.
This is what I love about my kids. Absolutely love about them:
Most kids would say “dad, you’re crazy” or roll their eyes.
"Really? AWESOME. LET’S DO IT!"
If I’ve done nothing else in this world, I have raised two children who have enough adventure and wildness in their hearts to not only believe that something like this is even possible, but to not ever have doubts about what can be done.
So the three of us made a pact: We will walk to California one day. Maybe not this summer, maybe not next summer; but by the gods and all that is holy, we are going to walk across this country.
Perry was excited to live like a hobo. He said he really admires hobos and respects them. He wants to sleep under the stars and make a home where he lays his head that night. Kyle wants to come back lean, battle hardened, and with incredible stamina and endurance. “Think about it, dad. Kids at school will be like ‘oh, I went to Disneyland this summer’ and I’ll be able to say ‘I WALKED ACROSS THE FRICKEN’ COUNTRY’ and mean it!”
We started talking logistics. For a half an hour we planned things we would need to pack, talked about sponsorships (dad, you can blog about it and someone will pay for our food and supplies…), talked about checkpoints (dad, we can stay at various Icrontian’s houses for a night. They’ll be waypoints…), and talked about technology (I will want to skype with mom. We’ll have to figure that out. I can’t go four months without seeing her face.)
Legal issues came up (Dad, mom will probably not agree to this. We may have to wait until we’re a little older, like 13), as well as provisions (I am so excited to hunt and eat something that I caught with my own hands. It’s gross but I’ll get over it. I would even try fish, I think…).
Throughout this entire conversation, all I could do was sit there and hold back tears at how proud I am of these two amazing people. These are kids who have no limit to their imagination and what they believe is possible. “If Lewis and Clark did it, why can’t we? Did you know that minutemen marched from Boston to New York in 10 days? We could do that…”
Perry wants to bring a journal, a plant guide, and sketchbooks. He sees himself as a budding naturalist, and he wants to chronicle plant and animal life as we journey. Kyle sees himself as a provider, one who is not afraid to get dirty, who is not afraid of the idea of catching his own food and fighting to protect himself.
One of the last things Kyle said before our walk concluded was, “This is going to change our lives…”
Yes, Kyle.. It certainly is.