A Brief Prelude
Many variables led to the current plan.
Andrew and Jillian met about 5 years ago as college students and started dating soon thereafter. For the most part, the whirlwind of events and circumstances for the next few years followed very much the same path as many others in their age group. Andrew graduated first, with a B.A. in archaeology. Next was Jillian with her B.A. in art and education. Together they made ends meet for a while; moving back to their hometown of Tacoma, Washington (conveniently, they are from the same city), settling into some relevant (Jill) and not so relevant (Andrew) careers, renting Andrew’s parents house (for more information about their crazy adventure, check out Little Cunning Plan) with Andrew’s just-married high school friends (now pregnant, who saw that coming?), getting engaged (“about time,” Jillian might say), and in general things were ok. At least for the most part.
At times, the dust settling is decidedly unsettling, and for this optimistic young couple, the landscape rapidly coming into focus was not as attractive as they’d hoped it might be. Work was increasingly demanding for both of them. Teaching high school art had sounded rewarding to Jillian, but she was becoming acutely aware of how little agency she had in a system which does little to help its teachers. Her second job, too, was rewarding and well paying, yet her weeks were full at 65+ hours, and the lack of any personal time was not sustainable. Andrew was consistently working 60 hour weeks as well with his job as a Civil Drafter and Land Surveyor. As he gained more responsibility in his work, he found that it was difficult to separate the home and the office as every week was another deadline and another endless barrage of emails. Both of them were burning out. They needed to leave.
Weeks after their engagement, a trip was proposed; the only criteria being that it was far away. They wrestled a simple weekend off from work and dropped a pin on the map. A few booking sites later, it was on the calendar: one night in Medford, Oregon.
Some talking can happen on an 8 hour drive, and they did do an awful lot of talking.
Together, Jillian and Andrew had been on a sailing adventure through the San Juan Islands, and about a year ago they had gone a one month trip to Scotland, England and France, so, needless to say, traveling had been proposed many times prior to this little road trip to Medford. But it was not until they’d broken into the second box of Cheez-Its (best car snack) that the frustration with how things were really going came out.
On paper they were doing great: their Instagrams were full of delicious meals and cool nature photos, their jobs were well paying and sort of cool-sounding, and they had all the love from each other and their friends that they could have wanted. So why were they both so unhappy? Was life always going to be so full of stress and obligation? When were they supposed to start feeling fulfilled by the careers that sapped up every last bit of their time?
On this short trip, it became apparent that they both felt they were not living life, it was living them. All their money was getting blown on eating out and fixing their cars because living the American Dream seems to involve mostly eating and driving. Ultimately they realized that the last time they had felt full of life and deeply engaged with the world around them was their month of international travel. A weekend away was not enough to refresh and reevaluate, they had to leave for a good while, so they started making a plan on how to get back to it. Somehow, it was decided that they would quit their jobs after their wedding in August of 2018, road trip from Washington to New York, and fly from there to Paris. After that there was no plan. They finished their visit to visit to Medford. One-thousand miles driven, 4 meals bought.