two more weeks

We fly north in two weeks. Two weeks from yesterday, actually. Our children will start at their new school on May 12… and if we’re lucky our moving truck with all our belongings (and second car) will arrive then, too. Or at least by the 15th. We’ll see.

Moving is one of life’s big stressors, right? All that change and upheaval. I have to admit, I like the change and upheaval. I like that professional movers come in and touch everything I own and transport it all for me. I like surrendering a bit. I even like the challenge of figuring out new systems and rules in cities and schools, all the hassle that is involved with setting up a new household. Maybe I’ve been watching the kids play Minecraft too much, but there’s something very rewarding about creating something new and figuring things out without any directions or expectations.

But the part that causes real stress, real anguish, is the actual leaving. The “good-bye.” I. Hate. It. So very, very much. It hurts, you see.

Last night my neighborhood friends threw me a little party. We hadn’t gotten together in a while and it was beyond lovely to reconnect and catch up. They gave me little gifts that represented each of them:  Homemade wind chimes, a plateful of cookies, a travel wine mug celebrating obsessive-compulsive tendencies, a toy frog, a coffee mug filled with a hot cocoa pack and marshmallows… and a doll with an injured and horribly askew leg holding a flag that reads “Man down!” — in six and a half years, a lot of funny and sweet stuff happens. It felt so good to remember. I haven’t laughed so hard or cried/laughed (craughed?) so hard in so long.

Then they gave me these.

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And then, THEN, they sang me a song. They got up in front of me and sang an adapted version of “Hey Soul Sister,” with lyrics re-written by my dear friend who has one of the busiest lives I know of.

Lyrics like “Your move-north pains are in our hearts and eyes and in our brains. We know we wouldn’t forget you, and so we went and let you move up north…. Now we’re few and blue, on the boulevard, in the yard, the way you move ain’t fair, it’s hard… We don’t wanna miss a single thing you do.” If this blog weren’t anonymous and if my friends would allow it I’d post the video. It is epic and bittersweet, like the finest bar of dark chocolate.

It was all too much for me to bear. I can’t even type these words without crying.

I’ve been so extraordinarily lucky, to have moved onto a street populated with great women and good neighbors who turned into true friends. I don’t know what I’m going to do in a couple weeks on a new street, in a new home… Will anybody bring me a plate of cookies? Will anybody run over and introduce themselves and give me everybody’s name and number, and then bring us dinner? Will I be invited to birthday parties, or to long-weekend girls’ getaways? Will I meet friends who can stop by on quiet weeknights when my husband is traveling, and enjoy a glass of wine, and talk and laugh for hours?

It has been idyllic, our life on this street. We’ve been safe and welcomed and happy and healthy.

It will hurt to leave. As excited as I am to start fresh, as thrilled as I am for new opportunities, for growth… It will hurt to leave. A lot.

 

the swing between

I don’t know what the heck I’m feeling right now. But everything is in flux, and it makes me… extremely uneasy.

I’m trying to train myself to manage a little unsettled mess, a little flux, bit by bit. I’ve heard about a cognitive behavior therapy technique wherein a person is given controlled exposure to something that makes them feel uncomfortable, or feel anxious. They might rate that level of discomfort on a scale from one to ten, and they need to allow themselves (with support from a trained professional) to get to “ten,” so that they can experience it, recognize that it will subside, and learn that they can handle it.

I think that’s how it works, anyway.

I had two dear friends over for dinner tonight. After dinner, all I did was clear the table. I did not do dishes immediately. I sat down in the living room with my friends. That’s totally normal behavior for most of the world out there. For me, no. Dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter? I get uncomfortable. Like to a “ten” on that discomfort scale. But I got over it quickly: My friends put me ease. The dishes were done at the right time: after my friends left.

One of my friends brought a lovely gift. I had opened its big box and it was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, wrapping paper and bubble wrap all over, the beautiful gift sitting on top. I let it sit there in the middle of the room as we talked for a while… But the discomfort got to maybe a “six” and I just had to move it. I put it next to a chair, so that the floor was clear. Discomfort down to about “two.” Then talked with my friends some more. Discomfort at “zero.”

I know, I’m a bit strange. I just need clean, clear spaces. I need “order” and “control.” As you can imagine, this poses a slight problem for a corporate wife in the habit of following her spouse wherever and whenever he has to go. Like I said, I’m trying to train myself to be okay, even temporarily, with disorder and a lack of control. It might be working.

We all get uncomfortable. We all have our “thing” that sets us off, that makes us unreasonable or defensive or territorial or protective, or even just mildly stubborn. But then, for the most part, we each figure out a way to find comfort again. Discomfort, or fear–they’re not sustainable conditions. Too much cortisol? Your body doesn’t want that.

It’s the swing between comfort and discomfort, or safety and fear, that makes the difference. Consider that journey past “ten:” Is your swing short, or is your swing long? Are you able to see your discomfort subsiding sooner (short swing) or is it hard to visualize its demise (long swing)?

About ten years ago, my father-in-law was teaching me to swing a golf club properly. New to the game, all I wanted to do was hit that ball hard, and get it far, far away, to where I wanted it to go. More often than not, I’d fail miserably. My swing was too long, for one thing.

“Your body, your core is what drives that ball, not your arms. You don’t need to try and kill the ball. Let’s see short swings, nice and easy.” He tapped my stomach. “Let your center of gravity do the work.”

Here’s to short swings. Nice and easy. The ball will get there.

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it hits me now, at odd moments

We’re moving (and it’s still a secret). I’ve scheduled a home inspection of our current house, I just received an email from a new school’s secretary reminding me about a preview tour in a couple of weeks, and I just left a message with our new realtor in our new state. I’ve already compiled a list of 10 houses that I want the realtor to preview for us.

At the same time, I’m gearing up to help host about 200 folks at our general PTA meeting tonight. We’ll serve dinner, and thank all these families for all they have done for the school, encourage them to stay involved, to do what they can. We enlisted five students to do a reading of “The Three Questions” for the crowd. To that end, I took pictures of every page and turned the story into a powerpoint presentation, and to make sure all goes off without a hitch I’ve created a color coded script for all the readers. I’ve rehearsed with them… I asked our daughter’s teacher to have a role. I’ve gone crazy with this.

And this morning, our daughter said it felt weird that she wasn’t doing anything with the book, since the book was hers and her brother’s. So I amended my introduction to note that these two nice kids I know lent us the book.

And I think about all this, simultaneously, and tears form in my eyes. It’s ridiculous. It’s not sadness, per se. It’s something else.

Everybody wants to have an impact, a positive one, on their community. I think I have, I think our kids have, when it comes to our school. We have made a difference. I’m seeing this impact, I guess, as an imprint.

Like when you put your feet in the sand at the ocean’s edge… You make foot prints, and the water laps over your ankles and your feet sink deeper and deeper till you feel stuck, but comfortable, because that sand is holding you steady against the crash of waves.

But then at some point you have to pick up your feet. And it takes some effort, if you do it before the next wave. You see the places that your feet stood. And then the water comes rushing back, and there’s no trace of your footprints. Your feet were there, but only for a moment.

Yeah, it’s all hitting me kind of hard.