I am starting my tedious journey home today, along Interstate 80. The straight highway driving that should have been a cake walk was made more difficult by high winds and blowing snow. I decided to spend the night in Laramie, WY.
Since I didn’t even have cows to keep me company on this drive, I had to talk to myself. With some prompts from NPR and This American Life, I got to thinking about Adventure. The episode ends with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman.
Adventure is all very well in its place, but there is something to be said for regular meals and freedom from pain. (Stardust)
The main consensus in most adventure stories is that the protagonist undergoes some sort of trial, and is usually uncomfortable. With my almost ravenous consumption of adventure stories in fiction, coupled with my well known desire to be the long-suffering heroine of my own story,it’s not usual to find me narrating some mundane task like laundry into a grandiose plot point, even before I left home. But when it comes time to actually get down to it, I’m not living in an adventure story. I spent a few uncomfortable nights on a soaking wet mattress, and have had to deal with some chilly walks to pit toilets, but all in all, I’ve been pretty comfy cozy, what with continuous access to a propane stove, grocery stores and a place to sleep. [I will say though that I did use the snow that would melt in the morning sun dripping onto my face as an alarm clock. That could be considered as part of an adventure.]
My relative comfort and the total lack of a macguffin makes for some rather uncompelling narration. My adventure story is not so much Stardust as it is Thor 2, in that the plot is more than a little forced.
Not to be deterred in my delusion of grandeur, I have found a way that my trip can be considered an adventure. All I have to do is learn something, like Frodo, Link, Harriet the Spy and so many other of my fictional predecessors.
Learning lessons is hard for me, as I have a complete refusal to participate the culture expectation that I will come to some sort of resplendent epiphany in my post-collegiate travels. But it’s the small revelations that are often the most surprising and the most interesting. Before we get started, I would just like to remind everyone that I have killed and eaten my own dinner. Not that is a lesson exactly, but it does add a certain adventure style badassery.
So what lessons have I learned? Well, I’ve gained confidence in my irrational and inscrutable refusal to eat soy. Even going to far as to ask wait staff if they wouldn’t mind asking the cooks to not put it in veggie pad thai and I found my spirit animal, the intelligent yet capricious goat.
I learned how much a shower is worth to me. More than the emotional value of being able to be warm and clean, there is a concrete dollar value associated with access to a shower. And it’s a lot.
You can be very functional with mittens. Not only can I type with mittens on, I can undo padlocks, tie my shoes, and even cook. You just have to want it bad enough. Oh, and seriously, don’t leave your shoes outside. They’ll either get slugs in them or snow. And that is the pits.
Hiking is really just walking. Except sometimes you end up above the clouds.
I mean, when you’ve walked up a mountain, it’s pretty easy to pretend to yourself you’re on an adventure, even if your mom’s Audi is only a mile away. Best just to enjoy the feeling of feeling like you’re going somewhere.
Oh, and if anyone else is looking to pretend to themselves that they are on an adventure, bison make a good stand in for mythical beasts.