This is a guest post by Kim Bagby, Steve and Mimi’s daughter-in-law. At Mimi’s invitation, she and her husband, Joe, are sharing a “2 Roads Diverged” view of their recently completed trip:
“This is meandering, poorly written gibberish.” – Me, regarding my final post. June 4th, 12:22am.
Suffice it to say this post has been a struggle. Our journey has involved so much writing, I’m uncertain how any of you have managed to make it through up to now. Bless your little hearts and your, I assume, weary, weary eyes. I can’t say another thing without expressing deepest gratitude to Joe’s mother, Mimi, for not just inviting us to write for her and Steve’s blog, but also for taking on the role of our editor. If you’ve found these posts at all readable, it’s thanks to her.
What can I say about the past few months? A lot and also nothing. To be honest, I’m kind of tired of talking. So much of this time has been mundane and boring, while the rest has been almost too big and heavy to think about. We were gone for a month and now we’re home, wondering what to do next. I do think this trip had a deep effect on us, but we also lost a father and father-in-law – it’s possible the residual effects have little to do with the actual trip.
“How about you not tell me what to do?” is one of my most used phrases. “Have you ever tried to tell a Bagby what to do?” is one of Joe’s. So it’s ludicrous that here I am, on the interwebs, attempting to tell people what I’ve learned from the past few months. There are millions of “lessons I learned doing ____” blog posts online, each implying you can take someone else’s random lesson, apply it to your own life, and reach some magical new level via generic internet advice. Well, I would never tell you that’s the case here. You do you. Unless you are a wayward stagehand, 20 minutes late to your booth, literally nothing I say should guide you in any way. And if you are a wayward stagehand, 20 minutes late to your booth, then get off your phone and go to work.
So, as ridiculous as I feel this may be, here are things I’ve come away with after our last few tumultuous months…
- I’ve learned to just do it. Just quit your job and do it.
Ok, I absolutely recognize that we don’t have kids depending on us. We’re healthy. We’ve been fortunate with work lately and could afford time off. Not everyone is in that place – this “lesson” comes with a lot of privilege. I recognize this and I have deep gratitude for it. However. I learned very early on in life, through a series of sad events, that it all can change in a second. I mean, everyone “knows” that, but it takes a few lessons – and they always seem to be sad ones – to “know-know” it, right? Taught early, this lesson keeps repeating itself as I grow older. I’ve learned to just do it, whatever it is. And I don’t mean that in a cheesy-internet-wouldn’t-that-be-nice way. I mean whatever it is you’re thinking of now – literally just fucking do it. Someone far wiser than myself recently told me “You’ve figured everything out until now, you’ve handled it all. Whatever is next, you’ll figure it out too.” And really…it’s been that simple (yet groundbreaking?). Was it profoundly stupid for both of us to quit our jobs? Yep. But we’ve figured it out so far. It’s been good for us to get out of that comfort zone, good to shake up our routine with a bit of fear of the unknown. I was more scared than excited as we left town on this trip. I thought we were going to turn around after three days. I thought we might strangle each other. This trip turned out to be the best we’ve ever taken (according to me…you’ll have to check Joe’s post to see if he agrees). I think it’s partially because we were out of our comfort zone and partially because we were in a mental place where we were looking to connect with family and friends. It’s rare in life to take this big of a leap, and I’m so, so glad we did it. We aren’t sure what’s next, but we’ll figure it out.
- I’ve learned we can exist on so much less crap and so much less space than what we have.
Since we’ve been back, we’ve been downsizing. We took multiple carloads of stuff to Goodwill and a literal dumpster load of stuff to the landfill. It. Felt. GREAT! We don’t need all the crap that we have and it stresses me out having it. Goodbye stuff!
But can we live in a car forever? That would be a hard no. We’ve started looking at smaller houses, though. At first, I thought it was just the post-trip high…but my desire to spend less time cleaning and doing yardwork has stayed strong. Same for my desire to work less and pay a smaller mortgage. I’m not sure what we’ll find in the cookie cutter Las Vegas housing market (2 bed, 2 bath, townhouse, pool, 2 car garage with space for a woodshop and lighting equipment storage is kind of a big ask…) but we’ve been looking. We’ve already had listing agents evaluate our current house. According to them, we’re ready to sell as soon as we find a place that we like. So once (if) that happens, anyone interested in buying our house should hit me up…
- I’ve learned that being gluten free sucks.
I know, I know. Gluten free people are the worst, but I didn’t continually blog about the gluten thing just for Celiac-smug kicks. I constantly brought it up because it’s constantly a struggle. Literally the only thing keeping me from stuffing my face with items from contaminated fryers is the fact that it turns out Celiac is a real disease (who knew??) and it can cause cancer. I am so. over. cancer. ruining. every. fucking. thing. person. relationship. life. I don’t want to be in my mid-sixties cursing my mid-thirties self for making decisions that cut my life short, so I stick with the stupid diet. There were days on the trip where we’d hit up farmers markets and make our own food, but other than those days it was really, really hard. Poor Joe is just along for the ride. Having just been officially diagnosed in January, we’re still very much learning how to navigate this new food world. My take overall? I should have never passed up a single donut. I say that, and I don’t even really like donuts.
- I’ve learned our dogs are 11/10 verygoodboys…most of the time. But I kinda already knew that.
The dogs loved this trip and behaved amazingly most of the time (and also kept us warm over cold nights), but by the end of the trip I was dying to eat in a normal restaurant like a normal adult. You could say it was a dog roller coaster of emotions. So sweet, such little freedom destroyers. In a happy turn of events, they now seem to be excited about getting in the car for normal rides. They have, however, grown a sense of entitlement about sleeping in our real bed with us. Not allowed, Harry and Leeeroy. Not now, not ever. You’re dogs and your paws are disgusting.
- I’ve learned that Joe is pretty alright. But I kinda already knew that, too.
Gross, right? I’m not cheesy, but I do have to say it takes a very special sort of person to put up with the crazy shit I’ve pulled on Joe in the past few months. Quit my job? Ok. Live in car as a 6’ tall person? Ok. With dogs? Ok. Go to every single farmer’s market we come across to make gluten free food in the middle of the night on a camp stove? Ok.
The patience of a saint? Nope. The saints have the patience of a Joe. I’m still floored he agreed to it, and I’m so happy and thankful he hung in there. This has been the best time, buddy (I mean, like, except for all of the sad stuff…). Now let’s take our sweet new camper car to the beach? Or New Mexico? Or Utah?
- I’ve learned that I need to focus on my health.
By no means have I ever been a health nut. However, I used to work out most days of the week. I used to eat better, weigh less, and generally feel better. The first few weeks of this trip we had the time to hike and eat really well. I’m dedicating my summer to getting back into that habit. This, especially with my body feeling like it’s out of my control due to the Celiac thing, needs to become a priority again. It’s been far too long since I’ve really felt good. I’ve always known that without your health you don’t have much, but that has been in the forefront lately. Feel free to shame me each and every time I try to bail on the gym this summer, Las Vegas. ***Everyone should be aware that I wrote this post while consuming Milk Duds and cheap white wine for dinner. Obviously, this one’s going to be struggle.***
- I’ve learned that I have no idea what’s next. The Kim I know would be planning and planning. Strangely, I’m fine without.
We both worked a few shows once we got home, and then did a bunch of work to get our house ready to sell. We’re now in a lull and have to figure out what’s next. Joe’s found his place in the world of production lighting, but I’m not sure where I’m headed. When I quit my job to start this journey, I assumed I’d start looking for another one when we got home. Turns out…I don’t want to. They call it funemployment for a reason, you guys. How does one get paid to live in their Honda Element? Ideally, near the beach? Ok, in reality I have a lot to figure out this summer. I have no idea why I’m not stressing about it yet.
- I’ve learned how to make homemade buttons.
We now have a button maker and make awesome buttons. I made some last show for my boss. Thanks, Meg!
- Our family and friends are awesome.
I can’t say thank you enough to those that made time for us, and especially to those who opened their homes/driveways to us. I’m sorry if our dogs pooped in your house (Nick). I’m sorry if we missed seeing you. Hopefully, there is more of this life in store and we’ll make it back around. You guys are what it’s all about.
- I’ve learned writing is not my thing.
May the deities bless the writers of the world. Even this short foray into “guest blogging” has been exhausting. Writing, and more so having feelings, is not my glass of vodka. I’m so very glad that there are people in the world willing to do this day in and day out. I have a new sense of thankfulness for the stories I read, be they news, books, blogs, whatever. Deepest, most genuine gratitude to the writers of the world. One of you, I am not. Now I need a nap.
- I’ve learned that the way we had been working and building our lives is weird.
We might work 100+ hour weeks and have unreliable jobs, but our lives are not really that complicated or at all hard. Certainly not “having cancer hard.” So I’m surprised that looking back I feel like we were just staying afloat managing life’s day to day mundanities. I’m sure it’s impossible not to end up back there, but I’d like to remove us from it as much as possible. A break has been nice. I don’t think anything less would have allowed us to really think about what our next move will be. I want to roll my eyes every time someone talks about “living authentically” but maybe that’s the best description of what I’m looking for? In a less eye-roll-inducing sort of way, of course. I’m finding comfort in our uncomfortable life. Even if we end up right back in the rat race, it was nice to decide which route to take back in.
- Since everyone has been asking, I figured out what my favorite parts of our trip were.
Favorite part: the fact that we took the leap and did it – everything else was a bonus. As far as our posts, there’s a special place in my heart about finding the Love Muffin Cafe. If you’re so inclined, you can read about it here.
Thank you to everyone that’s followed our strange little journey. It will meander on as we rejoin real life, but I feel peace in saying this portion is complete. We have both slight confusion and deep gratitude that anyone would be interested in our weird little lives. We hope we were at least mildly entertaining.
I hear that Joe’s post includes a soundtrack to our trip, and I have one song of my own to add. There were days on this journey that we felt weary, heavy, and old. But there were buoyant, goofy, and ridiculous days as well – as if we were born-again college kids wandering around the country. This song has been rolling around in my head, and it brought a smile to my face to hear it was a favorite of Steve’s.
Thank you, thank you kind readers. We just might see you out there soon…especially if you have a particularly alluring driveway.
-Joe, Kim, Harry, and Leeeroy
2017 #hotelement road trip stats:
6275 total miles
5 states visited twice
2 states visited 3 times each (Iowa and Mississippi)
3 time zones
3 homes of family or friends
2 truck stops
1 RV park
4 hotels, 2 ½ of which were unexpected
1 ER visit
2 Vet visits
2 Verti Marte stops
ZERO law enforcement encounters
1 credit card number stolen
ZERO breakdowns, vehicle in nature
ZERO breakdowns, personal in nature
1 baseball game
13 blog posts
1 bachelorette party
6 dog friends
Unknowable quantity of old friends, their significant others, and their kiddos
Unknowable number of extended family members
A slightly smaller unknowable quantity of close family members