The Single Thread

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Flight already gave a brilliant summary of our over-the-top dining experience at Single Thread, so I won’t devote much print (that expression is approaching dodo status…) to my version. There are a few things about our dinner I would like to add before I address the main strand weaving through and connecting all my present thoughts, namely the assessment of our journey to this point, what our trajectory looks like for the immediate future, the next few months, and ultimately the years beyond…

Before I get to that particular thread, as who knows how long I will wax poetic while I pull on that one, I wanted to bring to light a glaring omission in Flight’s recap. As with most ludicrous dining experiences (and we do have only a handful of such data points), each table is assigned a sommelier to describe the wine offerings and, more important, how each one complements the flavors of each dish. Flight opted for the “standard” (hardly) wine pairing and received an amazing taste with every course, which I believe he accurately captured. His oversight, however, was in neglecting to address my non-alcoholic pairings, to which I attribute his only enjoying a few jealously guarded sips while I was savoring each and every quaff.

The non-alcoholic beverages were beyond anything I might have imagined, which is, of course, why I don’t run such an establishment. Seriously though, what would you concoct to bring out the flavors in house-made tofu that has the consistency of burrata with an equally rich flavor (we learned the sous-chef had been perfecting that recipe for nearly a year – !!!) paired with the season’s best tomato harvest and capped with a snow of orange pepper all resting on some other goodness I can’t remember?

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Um, Orange Crush and something tomatoish? At least the color would be right…

Or how about this… I mean, where do you even start?

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Single Thread’s what – I don’t even know if there is an actual position responsible for such creations – is charged with this monumental task. To go with the aforementioned tofu dish (and I feel lame for referring to it as such), I was presented the perfect blend of strained fresh tomato puree, oolong tea of some variety, and hints of other earthy flavors that my inadequate palate couldn’t quite identify. Without exception, I preferred my non-alcoholic choice to Flight’s wine pairing. Whatever the exact title, they (and surely it must be a team of “they”) are very gifted at their job. I never thought I’d ever form these words together in a sentence, but my favorite drink was a turmeric margarita of sorts. ?!?!!!

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Exactly. It was insanely good.

While the food and its presentation was nothing short of exceptional, the service itself involved the coordinated efforts of at least a dozen professionals outside the kitchen and it was flawless. I have to say, it felt luxuriously decadent to have one’s every need anticipated and then exceeded by a factor of ten. Although we thoroughly enjoyed our escape to living as royalty, we had much that needed our immediate attention.  Since we only had a short time without our kids who tend to derail most trains of thought when Flight and I are discussing anything from toothpaste preferences to the meaning of life, we had to make the most of our time away, most notably to get our crap together and do some planning.  I’m reminded of an article in The Onion from many years ago. Ah, would that I had such a week…

Save finding the Money Tree, which I believe must be located in the same grove as the equally elusive Time Tree, our plans to further execute our intended flight path (entirely fluid as well) are somewhat dependent on how long we can continue to pay a mortgage on a house that hasn’t yet sold while we travel the country. I know there’s got to be a calculus equation to optimize the length of time we can maintain this lifestyle, but I can’t want to bring myself to define or solve it. I really don’t want to cut this experience short for reasons I don’t yet quite understand, so I’m tempted to ignore the algorithm constantly morphing in the background and have tried instead to focus on getting into a groove and living in the present. Maybe that’s my way of trying to identify a concrete and potentially priceless variable to enter into the equation, thereby proving the value of continuing our trek even at the risk of irresponsibly ignoring the obvious financial repercussions. I don’t know…

As far as what we are learning and my appraisal of those lessons, I can lump them into general categories, namely our growing knowledge of Operations (how we plan and execute everything from meals to travel route to where we park to Flight’s work schedule, etc.), Roadschooling (educating our three delightful children wherever we move our mobile classroom), Living as a Family of Five in 280 ft2 and, separately, my observations on how each of the kids has taken to this adventure. I’ll try to flesh out these notions in the coming weeks as I am able to get to them.

Ultimately, I give our Operations performance an “average,” although only just (see this post for an explanation of ratings). This lukewarm assessment is mostly based on our having made the most of some phenomenal experiences we’ve managed to enjoy thus far (e.g. exploring the UP, The Eclipse, kayaking in String Lake in Grand Teton National Park, floating the Deschutes, hiking the Cascade Trail, etc. – hurray!) that counterbalances our efforts (or dismal lack thereof – boo!) to include the whole family in our quest to see our nation. While we did a fair job of helping the kids create their respective spaces prior to getting underway, we haven’t done well with roping them into the whole experience since departing.  Frankly, we’ve botched that altogether and, now that we’ve recognized it, we’ll appropriately course correct.

Official roadschooling is just ramping up really and, as I’m still getting a feel for how that will unfold, “average” seems to be about right. You can read more about why we’re even going down this road and what my initial and potentially naive thoughts were here.   Overall, we’ve been learning throughout our entire journey, certainly beyond what our kids might learn in any classroom, however I can’t specifically define what our actual school year will look like just yet.  Nor can I possibly imagine what fruit the seeds we’re planting might produce. Since that can’t be known for years to come, I’m content just to see what our days will soon evolve into following our extended summer of travel.

Our experience living as a Family of 5 in ~280 ft2 gets an “above”. Living together just so has been poignantly rich but with some associated heartache too. I guess that’s expected in any family situation, certainly, but as Flight noted I think that we tend to feel the range of emotions more acutely because there is really no escape from each other. However, this constant close proximity has necessitated that we better learn how to effectively talk things through, appropriately identify and assert our boundaries, and immediately articulate any frustrations and joys along the way, which is something (I hope) that should serve us well regardless the size of our next family living space – and beyond. There’s still so much to learn as we continue our individual and collective journeys (kinda life’s whole point), yet I can’t help but feel as though we’re solidifying something priceless as we move forward, all likely owed to these self-imposed space constraints.

So, where does that leave me in defining the algorithm?  I’m still not sure, but likely no further along.  The bottom line is this: I’m loving this deployment and all that it entails.  Sure, we can certainly do many things better, but learning how to do so as a flight may be what this particular journey is all about.  We seem to be evolving well with the growth it’s catalyzing in our family and I’m fairly certain I won’t ever be able to assign that a value.

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