Friday, July 13, 2007

Westward Expansion

It has been pointed out to me that with this blog, I have done once again something I am known for doing..
That is, go at it back assward and with no map, telling no one my plans.

So. Before I go any farther in describing this trip, let's all get reaquainted.

My name's Hillary Peatfield, and I'm traveling through the west this summer with my son, Tristen Toffic. He's 10, and I'm old enough to be his mother. We live in the up & coming town of Dover, New Hampshire. (All of you Dover natives who are snickering should check out the plans for the new waterfront plaza on the Cocheco. Up & coming, indeed!) Tristen has been traveling all of his life, though he remembers little of it: his dad and I used to make frequent road trips up and down the East Coast, back and forth to our home in Georgia. The most recent jaunt Tristen's been on was a trip last year to Seattle to visit his grandparents. That trip activated his "Get Out of Town" gene, and we've been on the road as much as we could afford ever since.

I'm not an accomplished traveler, not by any stretch of the imagination. Aside from a few short road and camping trips with Tris and various friends, I've visited far more places in the pages of books than in real life.

When I was 11 I went to England with my family, and that is a coming of age story I don't care to repeat here. (Because I'm saving it for my memoires, it's that damn funny.) At 21 I fell for an Aussie working in San Francisco, and took several trips to the West Coast. At 25 I spent a long weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark and learned how to say "On Sale?!" in Danish. A couple of years ago I spent the coldest weekend on record in Canada holed up in a pub in Montreal. I did fall in love with the Insectorium while there, and had to be dragged back to the pub after a few hours, babbling about cobra moths and walking sticks.

And, I have been to Vegas. Oddly, Vegas has never once fallen on to my list of things to see, or places to go before I die. Yet it's the only place in the world I have traveled to more than once. The first time, several years ago, was for a friends bachelorette party. We came to see the Cirque du Soleil show "O" at the Bellagio, and it was worth every single penny. Last year, another close friend and I came here to visit friends who had relocated - moved from Portsmouth, NH to Las Vegas.

And now, here I am again, in Las Vegas. I feel rather like the little boy in Jurassic Park, who, having just escaped the T- Rex, has a jeep fall on his head... and says .. "Well. We're back in the car. Again."

This time is different, though. For one thing, one major, important, all consuming thing, this trip is just my own. Everywhere else I've gone has been with someone - with a lover, or a girlfriend, or a group. This time, it's just me. And my kid. Tristen Lazarus Christopher Toffic, my own personal reason for getting up in the morning. If only to see what he's gotten in to while I slept.

Traveling with Tris is a challenge, but not for the reasons one might think. For one thing, he's 10, so there are things I won't be doing.. anything rated PG 13 or higher, let's say. In Vegas, that leaves out a lot. Fortunately, I seem to have the mind of a 10 year old boy, and so am quite content to skip the gambling and whittle sticks in the desert instead. I'll miss the showgirls, though. Actually, that's still the thought of a 10 year old boy...

The real challenge to traveling with Tris is this: he's diabetic. And, he has celiac disease. Diabetic means lots of rest, watching what he eats, how much he's active, and 6 shots a day on a regular schedule. Celiac disease means he can't eat anything with wheat in it. Bread, hamburger buns, cheap ice cream, crackers... the endless list of processed foods goes on and on. All of them, out the window.

So this journey that we've undertaken has many layers. We're here for vacation. We're here to see places that aren't Dover, NH. We're here to be together, and to be away from everyone else. We're here to see what it's like to be 10 and very nearly 31, a self employed single mom and a kid with chronic diseases. I think that we'll have no choice, really, but to be here to grow.

And I am going to write a book about it! Ok... first I'm going to write a blog about it. But maybe, someday, it will be turned in to a book. I really hope it is - because if this trip goes as well as I think it will, it's going to be an amazing experience. A tutorial example, as it were, of how to be unlimited. Unlimited by disease, unlimited by finances, unlimited by being alone, or together, or any of the other hundreds of things that we, as humans, limit ourselves with. How, in short, to gather up all the things in our lives that tell us "No!" and say "Bugger that, I'm gonna do it anyway."

Descend Soap Box.

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