Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Just Keep Swimming

We are in California.
We moved here two days ago.
We live here now -- though at a hotel, in a rental car, and out of suitcases.

Everyone is handling this differently: one child has had a fever for four nights and is whining and understands nothing, really, about this change, though she may be the most anxious about our rootlessness and the speed of our move.

Another feels all the feelings, writing letters peppered with phrases like, "I feel uneasy about the move, "I miss you So much -- I can't live like this!" (where did she learn that?), and "I feel like a crumpled piece of paper," - ! - while simultaneously building forts with friends and riding a hover board down the street, beaming with the fun of it.  This one wants lots of reassuring touch; they all do.

The 3rd child is on the uber-happy, uber-social track, dying to race around and be with everyone at once.  He is hard to keep up with  -- both the pep and intensity.  Though there's lots of sadness in him, he won't touch it yet, though he, too, wants to be hugged constantly.  (yes -- we all do).

This will be and be and be an adjustment.  Ben starts his new job today and is holding stress in his body, too, sleeping it off now -- the tension of end-of-quarter-two-job-overlap and the launch of all the exciting newness and responsibility tomorrow.  He, too, is strung in the in between of crumpled suitcased-work clothes and no car to drive here yet.

We will all do.  We are all doing.

I've been trying not to articulate how I feel in my head for fear of a negative phrase sticking on repeat (I'm good at that).  And as Ben and I keep talking about, there is no summary or phrase to do justice to our sudden shift.  For now it all still seems surreal.  Though I'm usually a processor, it's not time for me to dwell on the feelings or even unfold them yet; "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." I usually laugh at Dory for this, but realize she's right; it's what I need to do, keep swimming where I am, feel the water, the burn of muscle, keep pushing through the waves.

The sermon today said cynicism weakens us and breeds bitterness -- a good word for me right now; in moments of feeling sorry for myself (or in crisis), it's easy to take little delicious lollipop licks of that negativity.   Instead choose gratitude, constantly and pro-actively.  God knows all about this -- keep looking.

And instead of isolation -- no one understands this, sigh -- choose relationships.

Go, keep showing up.

(and therein ends tonight's pep talk to myself)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

On the Move

Maeve was born on the autumn equinox, the day when summer turned to fall, and almost at the exact hour that late morning.  That was the day I learned the word liminal:

liminal; adj.

1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, of a boundary or threshold 

Her birth seemed to represent the word beautifully as she ushered us into a new life, our first baby in DC, a family of five when we thought we’d be four, a sweet baby of summer heat and fall depth.  It suits her.

Today we fill a different liminal space.  The five of us are on a plane flying to Phoenix, where we’ll pick up our second plane and arrive in CA to begin life again.  Do we begin life again?  Or just continue life in a different setting.  Funny how a change in setting does re-set us…

As of this morning, we have officially moved from DC.  But still we are neither here nor there.  Our DC house is boxed up but not yet emptied – we didn’t get to see it hollowed out.  In two quick days, it ceased being our home, even though it’s held us so snugly these four years.  Our rental in CA is set up but still in possession of another renter (long story), and we are operating on good-faith that he will move out so we have a place to stay (though no furniture for 8 more days).

For who knows how long we will each hover in this liminal space as our rhythms shift from summer to school, from east to west, from home to new home. 

Last night, when Annemarie and I sat on my parents’ porch swing saying our goodbyes, I tried to explain what this week has been like. In 18 days we went from a settled life in DC to sitting on this plane: everything we own packed, 10 bulging bags checked below us, and in our wake, a week of excruciating goodbyes – which felt half-pretend, like we were acting in a play -- and a zillion tasks cleaning/purging/packing/sorting/repairing/coordinating/deciding/leaving.

I have never felt such holistic exhaustion. 

Maeve has had a fever for three nights, and we have all moved through storms of  emotion that change on a dime.  We will have to keep allowing each other to do this.

Adventure.  That’s what I keep telling myself. 

All of the attachments are hard, though: how houses become dear friends, how routines become comfort, how people become anchors, and seasons with their weather, lead us through.

New adventures.  We will follow. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Move

I am sitting in my bed eating chocolate ice cream.

Somehow it is 7:26 and my eyes can hardly stay open.  The exhaustion is beyond.

Last Tuesday, Ben was offered a job and we decided -- after ALL of this -- we are moving to California.  And moving fast.  In all, the turnaround will be just under three weeks.  We are at eight days and counting...

When I first found out, I felt like Kristen Bell when Dax brought her a sloth.  I wasn't in the fetal position, but the hysterical laughing-sobbing-sobbing erupting from my face was close.  And went on for at least 45 minutes in front of my mom, sister, brother and sister-in-law.  Ben had to do the talking.  The turn of events!  The sudden monstrous loss, and gear-jamming-shift, after all the processing and deciding NOT to go to California!  About face.

So we've changed directions.

Monday and Tuesday Ben and I flew out to find a place to live.  We ate amazing tacos, touched base with grounding people, and left still unsure of where we'll live or how we'll register our kids for school.  The rental we found is currently being rented from guests from Friday Night Lights who've leased the place to get their kid into high school football but want to break the lease (in time for us to register for school???)  Drama.

But either way, we'll be there in less than two weeks.  I've heaped a pile of packed trash bags in the living room full of stuff to give away.  The kitchen counter is lined with bottles and cans from the pantry.  There is so much to order, purge, and reorder in a week and a half.

And the exhaustion -- I can't stop talking about the exhaustion because it's borderline dangerous for driving, it's in every bone.  I can't tell if it's emotional or physical or intellectual, my brain frying over it all, or all three.

SO, we are going.  Stay tuned!