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October 15, 2009

Going into week 7, there are a few aspects of this trip that I hadn’t counted on.  I knew there would be schoolwork, driving, skateboarding, and planning.  I hadn’t counted on chaperone fatigue. 

If you’ve ever volunteered for your kid’s field trip to the museum or a road trip involving hotels, you know what it’s like to always be counting heads, to feel like a shepherd, to feel that tension in your stomach finally relax when you roll back into the school parking lot.  What if a kid got injured or lost on your watch?  Nightmare scenario.  I hadn’t considered this, since basic parenting involves knowing where my single student is anyway, but I feel it starting to wear me down – the inability to switch off or “tag out” of this role.

On the other hand, I hadn’t even heard of, but I credit it with a large slice of the pie chart that describes the value of this trip.  We’ve met people whom we otherwise would never have come across, who are involved in roller derby, yoga, freelance writing, and IT.  We’ve stayed in actual homes in unique neighborhoods, rather than in a cloned hotel room or campsite.  Traveling to the fifty states is interesting, but living with the people of each region has really endowed this trip with added depth through the personal connections that we’ve made.  We are not only getting to know America, but also Americans.

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