Lessons from Isolation

Tracy says it’s been ten days only that we’ve been camping without cell signal, and in truth it’s not been more than two consecutive days, since we’ll drive out to download email pretty frequently.  But when I check my calendar and my social soul, it feels for sure like three weeks.  Maybe all summer?  When was it I last felt connected to other people?

I could be overreacting. But without cell signal for a prolonged time, I have: no emails, no texting, no phone calls (even spam!), no national news, no weather forecasts, no Zoom or FaceTiming, no RV news, no YouTube, no Wikipedia. (You wake up singing, “Doctor, doctor, give me a clue. I’ve got a bad case of loving you,” and have no way to find out if that was Robert Palmer or Paul Rodgers.) No streaming music. No streaming video. No new book once I finish my library Kindle book. 

I know, wah wah wah.  But really, all this “no” leaves is yourself. And my brain gets pretty tired of myself after a while. 

At least I’ve learned a few things from this so-called isolation.

I Dress like I’m in a Cult

When left to my own devices, as in, there’s no one to see me all day, days in a row, I will look down and see that I now belong to the weird, hippie, where’s-your-sari, is-that-your-grandmother’s-housedress cult.  

My favorite thing to wear, day after day, is that dress from the weekly Turkish stand at the Keys, sold to me by my friendly drag queen acquaintance. It’s shapeless and cool, and It layers well, with a fleece on top and genie pants underneath. 

I bought the pants after I got my squid squad tattoos and realized I had healing wounds on my legs and I live outside! I needed soft, loose pants, quick. Thanks, genie pants. Now they keep the biting insects off my ankles.

Look down farther.  If I had witnesses, they’d be grateful that my tie-dyed crocs wore out around Atlanta. Crocs Round 2: sea green.  They work with socks on my morning Banjo walk and with bare, dirty feet all day thereafter. 

This, it turns out, is me. And I’m not surprised. 

The World Keeps Spinning: 

whether I read the news or not, of course.  But I really should read the news, and when I do, I’m glad I did.  But once I’ve been offline for a few days, when I’m back on, my inbox is filled with 40 news updates from national newspapers, RV-related news, updates from social media or businesses or non-profits that I follow, and they’re overwhelming.  I put them in a folder labeled A_News_to_Read so I can delete them all at once as soon as my inbox fills up again.  

Windows Open: a Treat?

It’s not always the sleep-healthy choice, even when I’m thrilled to no longer be in a campground but to be out in the wild. Turns out, creeks are loud. The moon is bright. Sunshine comes in early. 

Here, there is no one in sight, it’s true. But there’s also no one around, like, at all.  As in, it feels like we have this mountain to ourselves. During the day, I can walk around the woods, playing my ukelele and singing loudly, and all I’m doing is scaring away animals.

In the middle of the night, I can pull the divider closed on Tracy sleeping and walk around the rest of the trailer in my robe, turn on the lights with all the windows and blinds open, and even make soup. Wait, why am I doing that? Million dollar question. 

Here there’s not even the sound of the creek. The quiet at night makes me a little panicky. It turns out I’d watched and listened to all my downloads. And I’m reading Anna Karenina, which one can do only in 20-minute spurts.  Our first night here on this mountainside where I have cell signal, I was sad in bed that I had no entertainment to distract me from not sleeping, until Tracy reminded me that I can stream whatever I want.  I’d completely forgotten about streaming. 

Being Alone: a Treat!

Often, Tracy does his own thing quietly, in his own cerebral world. He works on his computer or reads, and it’s like he’s not there.  Just this week I was thinking, “it’s like, sometimes, I live alone.” And then I realized that really, it’s like, sometimes I live alone! 

You may not know how freeing that can feel. Not wondering what someone else is doing or if that person is wondering what I’m doing.  Instead, each day I have a couple of hours purely to myself. Putzing around in the trailer. Walking along the ridgetop.  Not being a surface that someone reflects on or from. Just being alone. Now that I look at it that way, it’s like I have my cake (a husband to travel with) and eat it, too (quiet time by myself wherever we go). 

Trash Is an Unwanted Export

You guys know my love/hate relationship with dumpsters. There were the weekly entertaining ones at Small Country and the one we got the trailer stuck beside during a mass campground exodus. Here, boondocking in the west, we can’t find any to love or hate!

Seriously, any dumpsters we see while driving among the mountain roads are all locked, as in with padlocks. They have big signs on them that say, “Campground Use Only. No Household Trash.” Well, we’re not in campgrounds these days, and all our trash is household trash. I know what they mean (people bringing their appliances and mattresses from home to dump), but come on, we have trash, too.

So we keep the trash in the back of the truck (hello, local mouse) and take it with us into town, then find a dumpster behind a grocery or hardware store. But because we don’t do this often enough, we’ve been minimizing our trash even more.

We’re all about “less” here. Less water use, less electricity use, less trash. It’s an exercise in mindfulness, that’s for sure.

It’s Hard to Wait to Have a Beer until 7 pm

Plus, if I’m going to try taking photos of wildflowers with Tracy’s macro lens attachment on my phone camera, don’t do it immediately after slathering sunscreen all over myself.

I’m sure there are more practical lessons like that that I’ve learned, but it’s the middle of the night, and you guessed it, I’m sitting in the trailer in my robe with all the windows open, listening to the light rain, and eating leftover spicy boiled peanuts and getting hot pepper bits in my keyboard. Probably there’s a lesson right there.

4 thoughts to “Lessons from Isolation”

  1. This blog made me laugh out loud, especially at your outfit. So Sorry. It does remind me of when Im in Brooks, maine for several days and I have to force myself to change my tee shirt after a few days. It is another world when things are soooo quiet. I love the view from the top of the mountain. That is super cool.

    1. I’m so glad it made you smile! I didn’t want to be depressing and worried with that title it would be. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who wears dirty clothes in the woods.

    1. That’s wonderful! I thought a half a dozen times I should delete this post because readers might find it depressing. Glad I misjudged it.