The weather has been mostly good these past weeks–only a few days of hot weather–so we haven’t longed for the mountains where it has been rainy and cool.
But last week we visited good friends at their mountain valley home and plan to return for a spell next week.
Paul and Katy seem to know every mountain road in the Eastern Cascades. One afternoon we drove a logging road for several hours and then stopped for a barbecue and campfire.
The rest of the time we relaxed at their place, parking the trailer on the front acre of their seven in a broad valley called The Nile.
One night after dinner, Paul played a recording of him singing and playing the blues 40 years ago. He showed us his dozen harmonicas and gave me two of them because I expressed a desire to learn to play. He and Katy showed us six fiddles they own that had belonged to various relatives, one of which is 150 years old and belonged to Paul’s grandfather.
Then Paul entertained us with the electric guitar.
What is the balance between solitude and companionship for us who have decided to live a more nomadic life?
We want to continue our solitary explorations, but we treasure times like these with dear friends. Being the extroverted-introverts that we are makes these hard choices. I find joy with family and friends, and recharge in solitude. (If you want a detailed list that adequately defines extroverted introvert, look here.)
Solitude is familiar to me–an only child after age seven, my brother, five years older, had scant time for a little sister and left home when I was 12. I married at 18 and after our divorce, I traveled alone, lived for short stints with a single roommate, and married again and had my son. After that marriage ended after four years, I was a single mother for the rest of my son’s childhood. After he left home at 19, I lived alone for the next five years until I met Ben. I had my mom, my good friends, my dog, and had returned to college. But I spent much of my time alone and loved returning home to my house. I had found a balance, but without a partner, I was definitely lonely.
Ben grew up in an independent, but close family. They sailed on weekends together, but Ben spent long hours hiking the Oakland hills by himself, even as a little boy, rode bikes with his brother, and played basketball in high school. He had friends, but in college he was fairly solitary. After a short marriage ended, he spent 20 years working alone on the farm he bought in the early 80s. He had friends, the company of his workers, and for a time a bookkeeper and her children. But he, too, lived a solitary life before we met. He was living alone in the mountains when he met Paul. They became roommates and best friends and moved together up the road from my house in the country, which is where we met.
Despite our respective solitude, and sometimes loneliness, Ben and I found a balance in our lives. Being together, of course, is much better. Now we have companionship, and solitude, even in tight living quarters.
We seek a similar balance in our adventuring: solitude mixed with the joy that comes from being with family and friends.