The Genesis of our Exodus: Every Day is A Gift
Hi, I’m Sasha! Every week I write stories about my full-time RV travels. This piece is about a time when we were still a little on the fence about diving into the great unknown and a man whose five words cemented our intentions.
We were five weeks out from moving into our motorhome, but we didn’t know it at the time, hadn’t fully committed. Sure, it was part of the plan, but we dragged our feet a little. Our house in Portland wasn’t on the market yet, and we hadn’t informed our company what we were doing. Between the two of us, we referred to our upcoming journey as The Exodus; it felt monumental.
Every day was a secret.
Before driving away from Oregon, we had one last travel to make: a trip to Canada.
It was cool that day in September that we flew into Vancouver Island from Seattle, rented a car, and drove to Nanaimo: a small coastal city 90-minutes from Victoria. It rained that night as we walked hand-in-hand to a pizza place. Cold.
The following morning, we boarded a ferry to Gabriola Island, the home of Jeremiah’s late grandparents. The island is tiny, petite. Along the side of the road were kitschy warnings of deer; the population is out of control with no predator on the island. Wind blew the rain sideways as we drove to meet Jeremiah’s parents at our shared AirBnB — there are no motels on the island, only quirky sheds selling artwork via the honor system. Later that afternoon, I would drive the circumference of the entire island in fewer than sixty minutes. One main road.
It had been many years since Jeremiah’s grandmother passed away. Many. I have been enveloped by stories of her from the people she loved though, and I feel like there’s a tiny piece of me that knows her. His grandfather I met only a few times a decade ago; his Alzheimers was so severe that he couldn’t make coherent sentences, only mumbled and drooled. Unfortunately, it is the only memory I have of him, and when I ask much more, I am met with shrugs.
I guess sometimes it’s hard though to find time to do the basic things like have a proper burial, especially when it’s in an entirely different country with multiple families schedules. How quickly we can forget important things. Both of the ashes of Jeremiah’s grandparents were gathered, and the family members had crowed around a shallow hole a decade late to lay the ashes to rest.
The day was cool. Someone said a prayer, but there was no real service. After dirt had been placed upon the urns, everyone taking a turn with the shovel, we walked to the edge of the cemetery. Coffins had raised up out of the ground, others sunk in, all covered with moss. The bodies were at risk of falling into the ocean as the island began to shrink over the decades. The public was unsure how to go about removing the coffins and resettling them so they lied there, in the wet dirt, the headstones barely legible, worn with the constant moist salty weather.
We drove to one of the three restaurants on the island, a cafe, and received dirty looks from polite Canadians as we grew louder with bloody marys and sandwiches, a group of 10 of us. We cackled with laughter, pointed fingers accusatorily when jokes were poked, and chatted about our upcoming travels. Several of the family members left to catch an afternoon ferry and our group fizzled down to 8, then 6, and finally four.
How would I remember this memory, I asked myself. Would I remember the rain during an overdue funeral? (Yes.) Would I remember the laughter? (Yes.) Would I remember the people? (Yes.) Would I remember that nothing is promised, that there is no guarantee tomorrow arrives? (Yes, most of the time.)
The next day our group shrunk to just two. We locked up our AirBnB, shooed some deer from the garden, and ferried across to promises of a slightly warmer weekend. Victoria BC, it turns out, is one of my favorite cities. We walked the streets, shedding our hooded jackets as the sun played peekaboo, and stepped into alleyways for ice cream and steamed buns.
Five weeks, and we could experience many cities like this: fresh perspectives of every street. Still, there was a nervous energy with the choices we were making, the huge life change we were undertaking.
Monday, we drove from Victoria to the airport but were ahead of schedule.
Let’s stop by the ocean, we decided.
The day was brilliantly clear, and the sand was warm on my feet. I walked along the coast, shoeless with my striped socks in the front pocket of my jeans. Our hearts had pangs of fear in them, but also excitement. Were we making the right decision? Was there any real way to know?
I was sitting on a log, a few meters from Jeremiah, just watching the blueness of the horizon. Three men walked by, and we said hello by nodding. The third one, barefoot and shirtless on the cool sunny day, his brown hair hitting his shoulders, threw up a peace sign to me.
“Every day is a gift,” he said and walked on, not waiting for a response.
I smiled. Every day is a gift.
The following Tuesday, I stepped into our co-founder’s office and asked him if we could talk. Sure, he said. He began outlining what he’d like to implement for better onboarding from sales to customer retention.
“I’m leaving,” I interrupted. The white sheet of paper in front of me with a short paragraph was unnecessary but I slid it across the large table: a thirty-day notice, a purple signature.
He sat down across from me. Put the cap on the dry erase red market.
“Is there any way I can make you stay?”
I shook my head. “I have an opportunity,” I said vaguely, “that I don’t want to risk losing.”
It was time for the beginning of the Exodus.
Every day is a gift.
Thanks for traveling with me,
Nanaimo bars are a three-layer dessert that I’ve never tasted because they contain nuts (Sasha killers,) but they originate from, you guessed it, Nanaimo BC. I hear they’re glorious, so if you spot one in the wild, give it a try.