Nearly 10 years ago, back when we had more energy than money (Now we have no energy and no money, but that's another story.) my husband Chris bought a Jeep. Not one of those nice Grand Cherokees that the commercials show going off-road, but that you know never leave the pavement because who in their right mind would get a $40,000 car mired in the mud. No, he bought a 1984 CJ-7, a rugged, no air-conditioning, no radio, no room for sissies, real man's Jeep. In other words, he bought a hobby.
For the first few months Chris' relationship with his Jeep was purely destructive. He moved my much nicer, much newer car out of the garage and pulled the Jeep in. “Only for three or four days,” he said. He spent hours over the next months taking parts off, cleaning them, oiling them, gazing at them all over the garage floor. Finally, he was ready for the next phase of his hobby, though my car wouldn’t move back into the garage for many more months.
Chris did lots of work under the hood, but I have no idea what that involved besides massive amounts of grease and oil, the parts disappearing from the garage floor and lots of time. He traded some old Cadillac parts (from his former hobby) for automotive paint. He painted the Jeep forest green with black trim. His cousin sewed a spare-tire cover out of cammo fabric, rendering him almost invisible in the woods. He ordered new seats and got a console for Christmas. Phase two was complete.
The next phase involved sharing his hobby with others (besides me!). He joined a Jeep club, a group of people who think spending all weekend either working on their Jeeps or taking them out in the woods to beat the crap out of them, thus ensuring they have something to work on the next weekend, is really living.
When the club goes on their monthly outings, near as I can figure they gather, then convoy to whatever remote, muddy, wooded, hilly site they have scheduled to visit that month. Then they drive their Jeeps verrrrrrry slowwwwwwwwwly over trails.
Now, here is where the excitement reaches fever pitch. Sometimes one brave club member will creeeeeeeeep his Jeep even more slowwwwwly over a particularly steep rock or small hill. The other club members, whose Jeeps may not be tricked out (that's a Jeep term) to handle such an obstacle, stand around and watch this lone Jeep climb. Someone always documents these occasions with photos and video, and posts the blurry faces and mud-splattered vehicles on the club web site.
One blurry face is likely to be Patrick, one of the more fanatical, I mean devoted, members. Patrick spent $16,000 readying his Jeep for whatever rough terrain the world might throw at him. Patrick is unmarried, Chris added unnecessarily, but with a little envy in his voice.
For Chris' first Jeep club outing he left home at 8 a.m. and returned at 8 p.m. He only went 120 miles total. In 12 hours. If I tried to get him to drive to a spot 12 hours away, he'd act like I wanted to go to the moon. That phase of his hobby highlighted one of the major differences between us and our approaches to life. For Chris, in everything he does, the journey's the thing. Not me. I want to fall asleep in the backseat and wake up there--wherever there is. We've managed to work those differences out. Chris drives. I sleep.
But he won't be driving the Jeep anymore. He sold it. He hadn't been on a club outing in several years. Besides, it was tricked out just like he liked it. The journey was complete. Wonder where the next trip will take him.