Time is a weird concept. Somehow my children have catapulted into the future and I have been sucked back in time. We're two weeks into our cross-country RV adventure, and my children are making Marty McFly (second movie) envious with all of their futuristic play. Teachers are zapped into our home on wheels. Online school comes equipped with virtual reality learning, with cartoon characters shaped like numbers zooming toward their heads as fast as you can count to infinity. They stare, open-mouthed, at the other kids in the RV parks, who are zipping around on motorized bicycles that would look highway-ready if they didn't come in neon green. Golf carts on hydraulics bounce up and down to the beat of the music blasting, matched by the lights emanating from under the carriage. And we once thought the DeLorean was cool. I bet those golf carts could hit 80 mph more quickly.
While my kids are dabbling in the science of tomorrow, I'm living out my own movie experience, but it's less "Back to the Future" and more "Far and Away." Life is nonstop cleaning with a broom and a mop because a vacuum overwhelms the system and shuts off the power. Clothes are washed daily with a washboard because there is no room for a washer and dryer. And all food is cooked on an open fire or in our small kitchen. My most frequently used modern technology has been the smoke alarm, which goes off, loudly, alerting the entire RV park to my cooking ineptitude every single time I use the stove — often multiple times before I'm done making dinner. So it looks as if more meals will be cooked over the flame.
If the washboard laundry came with Nicole Kidman's amazing hair, a young and hunky Tom Cruise as a love interest, and a plot of land with rolling hills and a stream in Oklahoma Territory, then I could embrace the daily suds. Actually, scratch the Tom Cruise love interest part. We know how this turns out, and couches are already falling apart.
I also don't recall whether I've showered since this trip started. How often did folks shower during Industrial Revolution, USA? Am I still in the right movie? Or do I need to move over to "Planet of the Apes"?
Of course, all of this just takes a little getting used to, and every great adventure comes with its blisters and scrapes and learning curve. And perhaps the hardest and most necessary lesson that we are all learning is how to slow down.
Though nothing much has happened since COVID-19 took over, the patience and pace slowing is just beginning.
We are on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan right now, which may be one of the most beautiful and perfect places I've ever been. (No one break my heart and tell me it's not like this year-round.) My kids are giving up their dreams of hoverboards and souped-up golf carts to walk miles each day for ice cream and cool their blisters in the frigid waters of Lake Huron. We have two ignored hammocks at home, rotting and growing holes, but the children and I swing in the hammock we set up at each campground nonstop.
Perhaps part of slowing the pace and growing patience is letting go of the concept of time. My children have been going to bed when the sun sets, which, here in the U.P., means close to 10 o'clock. Giggles are heard for an hour afterward from the bunk bed, and we fight the urge to tell them to go to sleep.
Perhaps it is letting go in general. In the past two weeks, we have consumed more taffy, fudge, chocolate and ice cream than we do in a decade's worth of Halloweens. When my son couldn't decide which ice cream flavor he wanted, I let him get two cones! Then I let my daughter do the same just to be fair.
Hmm, come to think of it, this may be related to the sleeping issue.
Time is a weird concept.
There has to be a reason so many romanticize the olden times despite their flaws and inequities. The hoverboards (which we were supposed to have by now!) are cool and exciting but never romanticized. Perhaps it's because we know that the pace of the future never goes under 80 mph whereas living far and away comes with a leisurely stroll and two ice cream cones.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.