the (often) meandering travels of a student anthropologist
Field Notes: September 13th, 2017 - Asheville, NC
This entry offers an even more detailed peek into the enormous amount of work that I had to do to get Juno road ready - perhaps not so much if one has skills. I had YouTube and the naive belief I was smart enough to figure it out with enough time if I was just persistent enough. I also talk more about facing 'leaving', and the conflicting feelings it engenders–something Steinbeck also talks about in Travels with Charley.
Slowly But Surely
This weekend I had hoped to both start and finish the kitchen plumbing project–replacing a leaking faucet and both the sink drains that were also leaking. I did some plumbing initially - I moved the water pump to another area so it wouldn’t be near the converter and had to rerun those lines. Also replaced a water inlet. Quite the learning curve. And quite wet as well while trying to plug all the leaks (I learned about three different kinds of connectors - the most expensive are the best). It was a long couple of weeks but eventually I won the war. Since then I also had to replace the water pump.
In the case of the sink it’s a miserable place to access (men design access apparently - they don’t have boobs and can fit through those spaces they leave) and the counter was set up for a faucet with 4 in centers - meanings the holes for the water inlets are 4 in apart from center of hole to center of the other hole. 4 in centers are standard for bath faucets, not kitchen faucets (ie short and don’t swivel). So I’d spent months trying to find a faucet that I liked (the RV faucets meant to replace are so ugly). Saturday morning we were successful and found what they called a laundry faucet at the Lowes on the other side of town...it didn’t have the arch I wanted (bar faucets are 4 in centers but don’t have enough reach) but it compensated by having a pull out head and handles that didn’t look like a hotel faucet. Plastic chrome, but much cheaper than most. Installation wasn’t so horrible on all counts - but I ended up with a faucet leak and then two leaks on the drain.
Sunday after talking it through with my mom (my other half brain) and a trip to Ace we pinpointed one of the faucet parts was missing a washer. One leak fixed and I tore the drain back down, resealed, and will test again tomorrow. I let it go for a while to tackle some projects I knew I could accomplish - hanging pictures, mounting an inverter cord, measuring for and ordering the spare tire cover.
This should be my last Amazon order before I leave. Today, despite the fact I still have to find a mechanic with a lift to fix the oil leak on the rear main, I’m starting to feel the shift from “a project to get done before I leave” to “projects in process”. There will always be something to do, so at some point it has to come together where it’s “done and time to get on the road”.
I’m trying to refocus my sadness about my departure (funny how when you are about to leave on a journey you appreciate home and family in a new way) into reminders about why I’m doing this. To grow. To challenge myself. To meet new people and perhaps find community. To find “who” I am going to be the second half of my life–of which my thesis and degree and education are the critical component.
The fear I expected to some extent, after all often crippling anxiety has been my shadow for several years now. The deep sadness, though, is so unexpected. And it’s hard to confront or live with. It’s a terrible sadness of feeling that a time and place are over. Of course that’s the truth of every day, but embarking on a journey really makes it home. Hit home. That’s a good way to describe it. It feels like to do this I’m shattering my home even though intellectually there is no reason it should (unless I am in an accident or something were to happen to my mom in my absence).
I wonder if any of the other women I’ll meet felt similarly when they embarked on their journey and into this lifestyle? I know that at least two that went “home” for the summer remarked on the strong pull of the road, but also the regret to have to leave at the end of that time. How can I explore that other than just saying “that’s what is?”. Meaning academically? What am I asking really? How this forms culture? How it creates bonding perhaps? A knowing between nomads? An understanding?
At that moment of departure though - I anticipate it - fear it - I’ve done this so often before. There is this wrenching when suddenly you are alone and the world around is so different - and I literally feel like I’ve destroyed my reality. And, the last years it has gotten harder. It is a moment when you are completely alone. It is the moment I feel most alone. Rituals? Isn’t the obsession of getting everything done, being fully prepared a ritual? Or is it just coping? Rituals are a repeated pattern though, often spiritual. Which makes me wonder though - how do we define spiritual when talking with people that don’t consider themselves spiritual yet you see the patterns of ritual in day to day life?
In conclusion, all I can say is for some reason today I feel like I’ve made an emotional shift from going towards, to being ‘in’. And there’s a deep part of me that now wants to run screaming the other direction, saying no, what the heck am I doing...just crawl into my bed, pull the covers over my head and wake up from this trajectory I’ve set myself on. Thank goodness I have a shrink!
These field notes, while essentially raw, are an edited version. While I have tried to leave them intact in order to offer my project visitors an authentic peek into the process of creating an ethnography, as well as my own emotions concurrent with the experience, at times I have needed to remove or modify information to protect my relationships, or my informant's privacy. Grammar and spelling is only modified when necessary for readability, I've designated omissions with [...], and sometimes will add hover notes for clarification. Please see methodology for more information.