Living Between Two Worlds

I feel like I’m in a Star Trek episode where the transporter has malfunctioned (in the future no one says, “broken”), and I’m stuck between two planets.  It’s not as bad as the time in The Next Generation when Geordie and Ro got stuck walking around the Enterprise like ghosts and had to figure out how to manipulate the crew into realizing they were still alive, but I do feel like I have one foot out in nature in my dream retirement but one foot in the hell-on-fire world, and I’m fully immersed in neither.  

I’m thinking this will be my new normal (if only that term wouldn’t exist in the future) so I need to accept it.

Shawnee State Park Campground

First, about where we are.  This state park and forest is in southern Ohio, which I was aware is northern tip of the Appalachian Mountains geographically, but turns out it is culturally, too.  

Geographically, we’re definitely still in the mountains; our campsite is a concrete pad exactly large enough for the truck and trailer to sit side by side, and when you step out of the trailer there’s a precipice (I’m exaggerating a little) starting at the tip of your toe, with the rest of the campsite down below at a slant dirt and rocks and leaves.  

We’ve set up the living room, as I call it, back behind the trailer, so you walk the narrow edge of the pad back to a relatively flat section where we’ve spread our stuff with just enough room to sit with Banjo’s bed.  

It’s actually a very nice spot once you defy death to walk out here, with woods as our scene and a creek below us.  There’s a highway on the other side but we can only hear that; we can’t see it.

Why are we camped out behind the Airstream instead of beside it down at the bottom of the precipice with the picnic table and firepit?  That’s another part of being in southern Ohio as demonstrated by our neighbors across the campground road.  

I will spare you details about this group of three families spread across two campsites with multiple tents, a kajillion children, enough coolers and beer plus a handmade American flag to do NASCAR proud, plus one unleashed pitbull improbably named Heidi. They are loud and constantly arguing and … gone now, actually.  Yesterday morning I’d walked to the park ranger on duty to see if there’s another campsite open for the rest of the week that we could move to and discovered they were leaving that very day.

Of course it took them the whole day to actually leave due to one of their trucks needing a tow, but they are gone, and we are back to a relative amount of peace here.

Remember when I went all explainy on privately owned campgrounds versus state and national park campgrounds, and how quiet and secluded the latter are?  Well, I was talking about what I did not know, clearly. 

To give it full credit, this park is lovely, created by Rosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in the ‘30s, with tons of trails around the giant lake, plus a lodge and several nature centers.  Our area was cleared and built by an all African-American crew of WWI vets, in fact. Newly added though is the required putput course, a rental station for cornhole boards (I’m not kidding), and tons of children, teens, dogs: just plain everyone around us. 

So this is one of the one-foot-in-a-world factors. Yesterday while the tow truck was on its way to the circus of our neighbors we went on quite a nice hike through the woods with amusing signs describing tree varieties, over well-maintained foot bridges, and beside a long lake. 

Teens were loudly goofing off on kayaks (the same teens as in the creek below us; I recognize the American flag swim trunks*). Plus for a while the highway ran right alongside the hiking path, but in general it was a pretty, secluded hike.  We plan to go on another today and tomorrow, all before this place fills up over the weekend.

(*I swear I have nothing against the American flag.)

The Other World

My other-foot part is the strangeness of once again not having cell signal (and therefore wifi).  If we’d known we’d be going for two weeks without a stable connection, that’s one thing, but we thought for sure here we’d have something here.  

The ranger station does have a cell signal repeater, so our first morning here, because we needed to order groceries online for curbside pickup, we took the portable hotspot over and sat for an hour by the putput course with our laptops, looking like the worst campers in the world bent over them.  

But it was enough time for me to read the current horrifying headlines. (That word applies, but so does “powerful” maybe. Not sure you can describe what’s going on with one word.)

At our first campground when the pandemic hit, we had wifi intermittently in the camper, so at least once a day we read the papers, and I heard from you guys and felt connected, and I could regulate how much and when I tapped the news. Now with just a glimpse of the headlines and a text or two with Finn only when I venture out, I feel stuck in the buffer.

Merging the Two

Right now I’m sitting in that private space directly behind the Airstream. It’s 5 am and I’m listening to the pre-dawn chatter of the birds, but in the distance I can hear a man in his tent hacking up a lung, the morning call of the smoker. 

I will figure out how to live here in this between world. I will regulate this sudden dose of headlines. When we drive out, I will for sure call Finn instead of just the quick couple of texts that don’t satisfy.

And I’ll be aware of my feet on this Earth that, at its core, remains on the same trajectory it’s been on for many, many years and is the reason I’m out here. 

5 thoughts to “Living Between Two Worlds”

  1. I have such a dark side with my humor, that I love your crazy tails of the precipice and your not so lovely neighbors. I think its also because I LOVE your writing style. You have no idea how talented you are, no idea.
    The world is okay, really. Justice is being served somewhat with legit charges on the officers, which is a big step.Ihear ALL the perspectives on this and I just keep focusing people on the center which is “no matter how you feel about anything, You cant stand by and watch a murder, you just cant” Thats the bottom line for me.
    Your teeny back/ front yard does not look fun, but your next chapter will be better!