Tales From My Travels: August 12, 2012

Right now I’m living in a van. A sturdy 1992 Chevy conversion van with turquoise stripes on the exterior and a blue velour interior. This might sound creepy, if I were a 50 year old balding man with no teeth, but since I’m a young girl with my own business, it’s less creepy. At least that’s what I tell myself as I’m falling asleep at night.

I’m not JUST sleeping in a van for the fun of it. Like outside my parent’s house or anything. I’m on a massive road trip, for an indefinite amount of time, to an indefinite amount of places. And since said conversion van has a full sized bed set-up in the back, I thought this to be the perfect vehicle.

As I’m out here, of course I’m seeing beautiful things like beaches and forests and tourists at vista points pulling their four-car caravans over so they can take pictures of some unknown beach below. And of course I’m learning lessons all along the way, like call ahead of time for campground availability when you’re in the height of summer and tourist season, and put your ice-chest ice in Ziplock bags so when it melts it doesn’t get the food all soggy. But the most I’ve learned so far, has been from my dog.

Coach, the fawn Great Dane, weighing in at 110 pounds with a leg height of about three and a half feet. He is my co-pilot. Terrible at giving directions but amazing at dragging sand into the van. And so we’ve been driving up the California coast, our heads out the window, breathing in the summer air, and running down beaches without a care in the world.

Inevitably, every night, it gets dark and it’s time for sleep. And I don’t know if it’s just that I forget, before I invite Coach on the bed, or if it’s because my negotiating skills are weak in the face of massive cuddling, but I swear, every single night, this guy takes up the entire bed. And I don’t just mean that he’s in the way. I mean that I wake up to find myself lying horizontally across the pillows at the head of the bed so that Coach can be stretched out diagonally across the rest of it.

The first two nights, I could handle it. We had just left. He was adjusting, and so was I. Perhaps he had forgotten how we do this sleeping thing (me on the left side spooning him on the right). And so I let it slide. But this morning, as I woke up with a massive kink in my neck and freezing because he’s lying on the blankets, I decided that this is IT. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The smack-down is coming and Coach is going to be sorry he ever crossed me.

And so I crawl out from behind the pillows, I yank the blankets out from under him, I push him with all of the strength my legs could muster so that he lies properly on the bed, like a normal person, and I slip under the covers. And in the moment that I’m most mad and frustrated at how badly I slept, he lifts his head, looks lovingly into my eyes, licks my face, and rests his head on my chest.

“Oh he’s so sweet,” I think as I smile. I give him a squeeze and decide to snooze for a bit longer. Punishment can happen later. His talking-to can wait.

When I finally woke up for real, and Coach, again, was stretched out horizontally on the bed, I realized that I could learn something from this. Indeed, the only reason that Coach is so unruly in his sleeping habits is because I let him be. Because I don’t demand for it to be the way I want and need. Because I don’t speak up when something is not working for me.

And then I thought about life, and how this can be applied to everything. We never get what we want unless we ask for it. People in our lives don’t know what we need from them unless we tell them. If things aren’t going right, it’s our responsibility to right them. And most importantly, if you have pets and you want to get any sleep, make sure you give them clear boundaries and then follow through.

And if all else fails, give baby some whiskey and plop him in the dog bed. Smooth sailing from there on out.

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