I am in a window seat, a fat guy is in the middle, with his fat arm over the armrest into my space. I hate when people do that, and almost always it’s a man. I try to gently push back, as a hint, but of course he doesn’t even notice. In fact with every sip of coffee he takes, he seems to get even bigger and takes up more and more room. I’ve been traveling since 4 a.m., and most of yesterday too. I’m probably grouchy. But on the other hand, traveling makes me more patient, so maybe I’d be madder if I wasn’t tired. Why are some people naturally rude? They seem to completely lack empathy, have no idea how anyone else feels, and don’t care anyway.
I’ve been on a long driving and camping trip in my motor home with my dog, and although we had no real schedule, it seemed I was always busy. I had time to observe people, usually without them noticing. I’m more interested in the ones who are eternally cheerful than in the grumpy ones. There are a lot of grumpy people in this world. If I stayed in RV parks, I was surprised that so many folks are so old. Aged and worn out, barely able to walk, or rather just shuffle along. But they keep toddling around, going to group meetings, playing cards, sitting outside their RVs drinking coffee (or whatever is in that mug), wearing sweaters in the hot sunshine, but usually in shorts, with their knobby knees and saggy skin. Like in Eastern Europe, after you say hello day after day, they begin to act like they know you and suddenly start talking. I like that. I love watching when they set up their rigs. Most old men do it really slowly, one thing at a time. Just hooking up the electricity or uncoiling a hose can take several minutes. Some guys wash their rigs, both RV and truck or car, almost every day like it’s a hobby. I’ll bet that in a previous chapter of life they had a big garage or a shop. Maybe they worked long hours at some job and now the wife wants them out of the house. This kind of man usually has a big 5th wheel and a huge truck. Most people in the RV life are married couples, some are solo women, and only an occasional solo man. Away from the full-service parks there are more solo men and fewer solo women, with just a few couples.
Now the fat guy’s knee is pushing against mine. I can’t tell if he’s numb or greedy or just rude. I hate making myself smaller, but I don’t want him touching me. I huddle against the window, but his knee and elbow still find me. I don’t say anything, though, because I can tell he’d make a scene and I’m not up to it. Maybe he can’t control all that bulgy body and it can’t fit in his space. I heard that they will start charging passengers by their body weight. That’s fine for the airline, but the money should go to the people who have to sit by them, or else give them two seats to spread out, with a special two-seat belt. My overweight friends aren’t like this at all, they are very considerate, but then they are women.
I wanted this new life to provide me with perspective and distance so I can finally sell my too-big house and live on the road for a while. I expect I’ll have a little house someday, but not yet. Maybe I can find a great spot to live. Many people my age are doing this kind of search now, wandering around looking for a warmer, friendlier, happier future home. Most of us don’t want to live too close to grandkids, but maybe not terribly far away… or not thousands of miles away, in any case, like Alaska. We don’t want to babysit regularly or even have jolly holidays together, but being able to visit a couple times a year without spending a fortune to do it, and definitely not staying in their house with them, that would be nice. For years I rented condos nearby, driving or flying thousands of miles to get there, and being slightly uncomfortable (or sometimes more than slightly) the whole time. After getting there, depending on the child, I might have heard jokes at my expense or criticisms of my choices, washed lots of dishes and worked at cleaning, maybe spent time waiting around for them to have time for me, and sometimes not even being able to take photos to show for it.
I was greatly surprised that other RVers sometimes felt the same disconnect from their grown children. Instead of happy family dinners on Sunday afternoons, the kids and grandkids act like we’re sort of dead already. I’m learning to find this freeing, and it takes away some of the guilt I feel about doing things for myself, for a change. I wonder about those people I know who never had children, who never experienced the joys and pains of motherhood or parenting, but also never had to spend decades getting free of that responsibility. My kids’ father never had that problem because he never wasted a minute or a dollar on his children. Just as well, he was an ass, and I know that reflects on me for choosing him. Thank heaven life moves on and new times come along. My mantra: ”This too shall pass.”