Today I’d like to talk about Survivaling, which isn’t at all like surviving. Surviving means you got yourself from one end of an ordeal to the other, whether it was the earthquake or the downsizing or that one really bad day. Survivaling is a whole other thing, a word I made up to defend myself against my bossy family’s need to make smart remarks about me being like the Unabomber, keeping largely apart from public gaze and eating foods from stashes carefully prepared and maintained.
Today I’d like to talk about Survivaling, which isn’t at all like surviving. Surviving means you got yourself from one end of an ordeal to the other, whether it was the earthquake or the downsizing or that one really bad day. Survivaling is a whole other thing, a word I made up to defend myself against my bossy family’s need to make smart remarks about me being like the Unabomber, keeping largely apart from public gaze and eating foods from stashes carefully prepared and maintained. Yup. Ted Kaczynski practiced survivaling, and so do I. I carry my own food every time I leave the house. I bring food on train trips, café car or no. I bring food even on a cruise, and it lasts - sort of – at least for the first 24 hours. And since only a fool would fail to bring food on an airplane I do that, too, though I once heaved my raincoat up into the overhead compartment only to be immediately baptized by the slices of luncheon meat hastily stuffed, unwrapped, in my raincoat pockets. Gently falling wisps they were, delicate rags of protein that settled like limp epaulets on my shoulders and those of the passengers nearest me. At home at breakfast time, I have Survivaling down to a science. I get up at 5 a.m., and there’s my food right by my bed: yogurt, cheese sticks, clementines in their dandy little jackets. … I brew my first cups of coffee right in the bathroom so that even before the morning paper has whumped onto the porch I am eating and writing and gazing serenely out my special east-facing window. When I travel far and there’s a motel involved, I eat out of a cooler. I can do this for as long as a week, refreshing the food with a bucket or two of ice each day. When I’m out on day trips, I bring my lunch, too, natch. I went through one stage where I couldn’t get enough swordfish and tabouleh. Before that it was cold salmon and red grapes on a pile of baby spinach. Top billing at the moment goes to broiled scallops on a bed of nice peppery arugula. I can eat all these great seafoods right in the car and still not smell like a Gloucester fisherman when I get to my destination - this in spite of the fact that I’ve given up on utensils. Forking all those greens into your mouth while driving is dangerous, right? So I don’t even look down these days; I just root around in the Tupperware, eating with two fingers and a thumb the way they do in countries all over the world. Then, when I get to my destination, all I need is a little hand sanitizer, some dental floss and my Teeth Whitening Listerine. They’re all there in the car, along with a hairdryer and a flatiron, both powered by a chunky little adapter I sent away for that plugs right into that small round power port which in Olden Times folks used for lighting cigarettes. It’s efficient, being free of the dull eternally recurring need to stop and find a place to eat. Efficient and deeply gratifying and downright fun in a certain sort of way. It feels like you’ve beaten the system when you can sail past the fast-food joints and thumb your nose. Now if I could just work my way into the adult diapers scene, I could even cut out bathroom stops. That would be survive-alive-alive-a-ling all right. I bet old Ted Kaczynski in his jail cell would be proud. Write to Terry at email@example.com, www.vacationinginmydriveway.com or care of Ravenscroft Press, Box 270 Winchester, MA 01890.