Jun 28, 2015

On Laundry and Relaxation...

At this moment we are on approximately Phase V of (this particular) Big Move. Phase IV consisted of buzzing thru Montgomery to grab the remainder of our possessions and visit the chiro for one last dose of back health before heading to Asheville NC.

It could be said that Asheville NC is the Portland OR of the East. It is lush and green, and one of the kids actually commented that it looked like scenes from the Goonies, which is set in Oregon. Asheville also has more than its share of crunchy-types and oddballs, and from my observation it could have the highest per capita incidence of dreadlocks in US urban areas, although I haven't been in Boulder CO in a while, so there's that.

Other than an amazing pulled pork biscuit breakfast downtown and a beautiful hike in the Smokey Mountains though, we have been spending our time hanging with our friends (The Pastors T and family, from days of yore) at their house. In an interesting twist of events, they too are moving, although they like to kick things up a notch and are moving in three days, and on something like a week and a half notice. 

In theory we are helping them pack and prep, which in this case looks like baking to use up the pantry...sending all the kids outside to occupy each other...talking about Jesus, antimatter, and everything in between...and napping on their couch when things get sleepy. We love them.

This morning I got to take a couple hours to do introvert things. It's always a bit of a surprise to me to find what can rejuvenate me and give me a happy morning. Internet articles talk about things like spa days, mani-pedis, long baths, and stuff like that. Which are all fine and good; just not my relaxation cup of tea. It turns out when I'm on the road, it is otherwise mundane, ordinary (and sometimes mind-numbing) tasks which make me feel like a whole and mostly-sane person, and very small gifts which give my heart that extra little smiley kick.

Today the things that made me feel calm and happy were: 
  • Running a 5K on the treadmill while listening to podcasts
  • Lifting little dumbbells to keep the old back strong 
  • Doing a load of laundry 
  • Asking for coins for said laundry at the front desk and being told "They're actually free now. Just push in the empty coin tray and they'll work." AND THEY DID.
The laundry is a particular surprise. I think it's less about actually doing the laundry, and more about staying on top of the task which is the closest thing I have to an arch-nemesis. If my family has clothes to wear, we're prepared to fight another day. Or something like that. Also, I'm ensuring that my Mount Laundry will be minimal as long as possible. Ideally until we move into the new house, where articles of clothing will again start reproducing until they reach the piles to which I'm accustomed. Some things just can't be explained...

Jun 17, 2015

Snippets From the Beach...

--At this moment we are what I'm calling Phase III of our Big Move, or in some circles, (this particular) Big Move, because it is our third Big Move in as many years.  Phase I was the extended-stay hotel mentioned in my previous post, and Phase II was a weekend with dear friends on the way down to Key West. I haven't decided how many phases to break (this particular) Big Move into, but over the next few weeks we will go back through Montgomery to pick up the Cat Daddy's car and our trailer o' stuff, spend several days with dear friends in NC, drive to MA, stay in temporary lodging for something like 10 days and, finally, move into our recently-secured base housing on or around July 10. So that's, like, 6-8 phases total? I'm not even sure what to call it. All I know is that I'm taking a lot  of deep breaths, and setting aside priceless time for introvert-ish things, and goodness me these children are beasts when they don't get enough rest.

--I'm not sure if I've mentioned it many times here, but Oh My Dear Heavens, do I love the beach. If my life circumstances should somehow change and I find myself without family responsibilities (heaven forbid), or maybe just someday once the kids are off & grown, I will have a cottage in a beachy town and become a beach bum (But a high-functioning one). I will wake early in the mornings and run places, and I will take up surfing (or stick to snorkeling, depending on the location), and the rest of the time I will navigate town on my beach cruiser, and be an eccentric and beloved local old woman. The Cat Daddy says he will miss me at the family farmhouse/estate, and I said no worries, he can visit me at the beach and I will come for big family holidays. I'm certain we can become snowbirds or make it work in some way. If one is going to be in transition for crazy timeframes like a month or more, may I recommend beach time as a way of preserving sanity?

--My friend Ruth and I talk about All the Things when we get together. I have just as many opinions as she does, but she's more outspoken than I am, and willing to put up with all the stuff that comes with sharing opinions online, so she writes and posts brave things. I'm not sure my exact reasons, but most controversial-type things I tend to save for in-person discussions. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to be bolder about sharing my OPINIONS here on the blog, and waaaaaay back in the archives you can find a few OPINIONS, but more recently I like the safety that comes from sitting with someone in person and sharing points of view. I very rarely see people storming out of coffeehouses mid-rant, is what I'm saying. I'm not sure that's the end of the story, because I think there's also something to be said about entering the broader discussion, or "the arena" so to speak, but this is where I am at the moment. We can all use more kindness, laughter, unicorns, and kittens (and Jesus), and those are the things I'm about these days.

--In Key West I have seen people carrying around coconuts, drinking stuff out of them with straws. My intent today is to find out what is in said coconuts, and perhaps procure one for myself before this afternoon's informal snorkeling practice.

Jun 3, 2015

Lucky Number 500...

It turns out that, if my Blogger stats are correct, this is my 500th blog post on this site.  So, happy 500th post to us all, and thanks for reading my blog!

These days we are in transition, which I feel like I write about a lot.  Probably because we do a lot of transition, and because we've been going through more than usual lately--this is move #3 in 3 years. I haven't figured out yet if I'm learning new things each time we move, or if I'm re-learning the same things and due to my mom-brain it's all just shiny and new to me each time.

At this moment we are in the extended-stay hotel until we leave for a vacation in Key West. We are (varying degrees of) beach people, so we are all very much looking forward to it. I'm pretty sure this will be the farthest south I've ever been, and even though I'm not a drinker, I'm seriously considering a mai-tai or some other adult umbrella drink to mark the occasion. After vacation we will make our way north, arriving in the wonderful Boston area during the warmest time of year, which I think is quite valuable for feeding my continuing denial of the severity of winters to come.

If there's an upside to all this moving and transition, it is that we are veritable experts at the logistics of moving and transition. We can work around moving ourselves or being moved by a company. We can plan for long-term displacement or a door-to-door excursion. With or without kids and/or pets. Seriously, I could have a reality show on HGTV where I help people organize themselves for moving, because each time I have moved I have learned something new to make it go a little smoother the next time.

The "internal" aspects of moving are a little more complex, I think. Because it is familiar, this part does go more smoothly for me these days, but I haven't yet found a way to both do it well and make it painless. In fact as you would probably guess, it seems to me part of doing transition well is letting it be painful, and feeling the feels, and all that. Sometimes I get caught off-guard though, and I get surprised by what stings.

The other day we were checking out of our house, and I took a moment for some mental snapshots. I remembered how empty it felt when we first moved in and how, after a year of placing and arranging, and filling it with the things of our lives (and vacuuming the ever-loving granola crumbs again and again), it was again packed up and emptied, looking identical to the first time we saw it.

I think it's one of the great paradoxes of life, about opening up and risking to love something/someone, but still holding it "loosely," as they say.  I don't know what it was about that house--perhaps the layout and other particulars, which I was particularly fond of--but I loved it right away, and it felt very home-ish to me almost immediately. I remember consciously allowing myself to enjoy it fully for the time we had it, even knowing it was a rental, and a short term one at that.

Still, I was surprised by how sad I felt to leave a house of under 11 months. I thought back to all our previous houses and places, and what was hard (or maybe not so much) about leaving each of them, and I decided it is hard for me to leave what the house represents. Memories, yes. A wonderful "summer camp" year of whirlwind friendships and seizing the days, and making the most of things, yes. But somehow it's even bigger than that.

I love the scene in Castaway where Wilson the volleyball floats away, and Tom Hanks just cannot rescue him without compromising his own safety and hopes of rescue, and he is undone with grief as he lets Wilson go. That scene stuck with me more than any other. That silly volleyball represented so much more than a toy or keepsake, or even a conversation partner. It was the last remainder of his life on the island, and stood for everything he had to let go of in order to risk being rescued.

So I think for me, this particular house represented the whole of my experience here in Montgomery.  I am so excited to be back in Massachusetts, and I know I have a lot to look forward to, but the first part of getting there is setting free the things that keep me here. And risking a few tears in order to tell people what they've meant to me.

Believe me when I say, if you haven't weighed this choice before, that it is worth the tears. It is worth feeling a little bit silly as you try to find the words to say, and it is worth the pang in the gut to leave well.

It is also worth noting that now, a couple days after the fact, I don't feel weepy about my house anymore. Friends of ours are moving into it, so I know it's in good hands, and I like feeling good about the fate of my inanimate objects.

I have a couple weeks of (people) goodbyes left though, so please pardon me if I get a bit of a faraway look in my eye. And maybe slip me a little chocolate...