Surreal skies were the focus of my last post. As it turns out, surrealism was the theme for 2019. Within days of writing that post, my mom would be rushed to the hospital. She would be gone from this world less than two months later. My dad was gone less than six weeks after that. My mother-in-law passed in June.
Last year, I vacillated between utter exhaustion and deep gratitude. When I was bone weary, there was always someone there to keep me going. Last year, I learned that family has nothing to do with shared DNA.
This year was going to be easier. This was the year of the comeback, only it wasn’t. It’s another year of weariness and thankfulness all rolled into one. We have been luckier than many, and for that I am grateful.
For many reasons, I need a creative outlet. I want to find a way to put something positive in the universe and provide support in the way my tribe supports me. Expect to see more from this space again.
Lucky foods are a must for the start of the new year. Pork (forward progress), greens (spinach is our “cash”), black-eyed peas (pennies, also one of the few crops Sherman left Southerners following the Civil War), and cornbread (gold).
So far, we have been very lucky with warm, mild weather. I cleared gutters without falling off the ladder. We also witnessed a feeding frenzy at the bird feeder. Mr. McB got some great shots at the feeder. I spotted the cardinal after dinner and snapped a few pictures. I also got a photo of the squirrel who seemed unhappy that so many bids were eating from the feeder that he frequently robs.
Despite my best intentions, I didn’t have the energy to chronicle my drive from Oregon to Louisiana with nightly posts. I have photos and stories, so those posts will come.
I have been running since arriving in Baton Rouge on the 18th. It took a few days to complete the work that Mr. McB began in the house. Most of the heavy lifting is done with just the storeroom left to organize. Some decorating remains, but it feels like home. We are establishing little routines and building the “boring” domestic life we longed for.
I forgot just how taxing daily life can be after a move. WAZE is my best friend. Though even after I find the store, I don’t know where to find the items I need. There are no quick errands when everything is foreign. In the grand scheme, this is a minor complaint, but it doesn’t ward off the anxiety and exhaustion. We all have those moments for one reason or another.
I find myself surrounded by helpful souls who are willing to aid in my transition. Their kindness and concern is overwhelming, in all the right ways. My spirits are also buoyed by thoughtful friends and technology that shrinks the distance between us. Time spent with family fills my heart with a peace and happiness that knows no words.
A new job will come. For now I am keeping busy with the search, freelance work, settling in and caring for our little family. It’s amazing how those items manage to keep me busy.
13 June Corvallis to Redmond, OR
14 June Redmond, OR to Pocatello, ID
15 June Pocatello, ID to Cortez, CO
16 June Cortez, CO to Albuquerque, NM
17 June Albuquerque, NM to Wichita Falls, TX
18 June Wichita Falls, TX to Baton Rouge, LA
Here’s a Google map that shows all the stops. I’m excited about seeing Arches and Mesa Verde.
Got a recommendation for food or sightseeing? Post it in the comments.
“You should get back to writing on your website.” A sweet friend, who speaks the truth
So much has happened since my last post. For starters, we are in the process of moving to Baton Rouge. Actually, I am in the process. Mr. McB is there and furiously unpacking. I love him for that.
I am a trailing spouse and on the job hunt again. That’s OK, I have been here before. I remember the lessons.
I am leaving Oregon and saying goodbye to dear friends, that is hard. I am leaving Oregon with a sense that I wasn’t tough enough for this wild place, that is equally difficult. Kind souls have told me that isn’t the case, but I can’t shake the feeling. Expect more on that as I have five days in the car to listen to loud music and think.
Sorry for stepping away from this blog for so many months. At first, it was all a matter of time. I couldn’t force myself to come home and write after spending hours in front of a computer screen each day.
When Mr. McB arrived in town after Labor Day, I wanted to spend time with him. When he adapted quickly to life in Oregon while I continued to struggle, I didn’t want to talk or write about it. I also had no interest in creating a fictional existence where all was rosy and bright.
Truth is, I am still trying to find my way. Admitting that is hard. I am also working too many hours to make that adjustment any easier for myself. It’s my own bad choice and don’t want pity, I just want to be honest about it. Without honesty, this blog becomes little more than a highlight reel ripe for unrealistic comparisons.
So, I am working on it. On the professional front, help will be on the way soon. Summer also brings at least a moment to breathe.
Personally, I looking forward to little getaways. I am eager to explore, with Mr. McB or on my own if his work schedule continues to be a challenge. I vow to leave my desk at lunch at least once a week. I am indulging in a 60 minute massage every six weeks. I am making time to call and email family and East Coast friends. I might try a little container gardening. I am getting back to blogging on at least a weekly basis. In short, I am getting back to taking care of myself.
I have vague recollections of the flights I took as a youngster. The oldest memories are fuzzy fragments – seeing blue lights illuminating the runway at night, receiving a pair of wings just like the pilot’s, wishing I had a jar to catch some clouds…. Somewhere between the bumpy rides on puddle jumpers and adulthood, what was once magic became routine.
Fast forward to 2008 and my cousin’s wedding. We decided to fly to Kansas City as a family. This included my grandparents and aunt who had never flown before. If you asked me then, I might have described the trip as a “production” instead of an adventure. I love my family but that’s a lot of moving parts.
My grandfather was a tall man so we arranged for his seat to be in the aisle but he was far more interested in the view than legroom. We shuffled him into a window seat. I’m not sure Pop talked to us at all during that flight. He was not a quiet man so this is notable. Throughout the flight his gaze rarely left the window. This was clearly someone who was capable of wonder and understood that safely speeding through the air is nothing short of miraculous.
I have to admit that I remarked on it but it really didn’t change me very much. Flights were to primarily to be endured, not savored. When we flew back to Kansas City for another cousin’s wedding, I remember Pop’s perplexed, and perhaps mildly disgusted, expression as we put on headphones, pulled out magazines, and started all sorts of tasks that took us out of the experience. We could have it our way but he was opting for fascination and exploration.
Somewhere along the way, and it might have been the first flight I took after he passed, that I realized that I was wasting a perfectly good opportunity to experience awe and joy, two emotions that far too many adults are lacking in their lives. Now, I savor the glorious moment when the plane leaves the ground and begins to climb toward the heavens. I find myself peering out the window and counting my blessings. I don’t have a perfect life but it’s full of wonderful people and amazing opportunities. There’s something about lifting off the ground that puts everything into perspective.
These photos were taken on a recent flights between Portland and Seattle. I think he would approve.
Generally, I am not one to feel sorry for myself or at least not one to wallow in it. That has not been the case over the last few days.
Until a couple of weeks ago, Mr. McB and I thought that he would be able to make a visit here in conjunction with a business trip to California. Plans changed and that all evaporated. I was sad but then on Thursday, the day he was to arrive, I just hit rock bottom. I saw the shuttle that would have brought him from Portland to Corvallis no less than four times during the day. Normally, I might see it once in four days. I sat in the parking lot at work and cried. It was not a good day.
Thursday was also crappy because once again Anytime Fitness refused to accept documentation that would allow me to cancel our contract. They keep moving the goal line when it comes to what we need and it is infuriating. They have six different pieces of information but keep asking for something else even though what I am providing what they ask for. They also didn’t freeze our account as promised. It is corrected now but I’m annoyed that I had to follow up on it and ask for the charge to be reversed.
I was also frustrated because the trash company did not take away the cans left by the previous tenants, even though I was assured that they would. I also still have car parts, including an entire exhaust system, in my garage. Not major things but I cannot stand it when people don’t do the service I am paying them for. I don’t have time to call repeatedly but I don’t have much of a choice.
Friday, I woke up grouchy but pulled out of it when I was able to spend the evening with friends and their family. It was nice and I felt better.
Saturday, I was able to get a local bank account without any fuss. I went to the farmer’s market. I was really having a great day. I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head to the shore. I made it 10 minutes down the road when my “check engine” light came on. I was able to make it in to Firestone only to learn that my catalytic converter is toast. Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who just happens to be getting his Ph.D. in automotive engineering and he made sure I knew that the federal government requires automakers to have nice long warranties on catalytic converters. The warranty covers eight years and 80,000 miles and I am at 7 years and 75,488 miles. I should have focused on how fortunate I was to be safe and to know that at least part of the repair is covered under warranty. Instead, I picked up the “woe is me” flag and there was more crying last night.
Today I am finally getting in the right frame of mind. I went to church and was very touched by the message. I remembered that I am never alone and even when things seem hopeless, I’m not doing the heavy lifting on my own.
I am thankful for my Creator, my family, and my friends. They all sustain me during the rough times and love me even when I decide to throw a pity party.
My grandmother and I flew down to Louisiana yesterday to visit my parents, brother, SIL, and niece. The visit was a total surprise for my niece. It was so great to see her big smile as she came running off the school bus. I love this kid.