Six Months and One Day

Six months and one day. It has been six months and one day since we packed the remainder of our stuff in cars, put the cats in their carriers, and signed reams of papers in two different states. Six months and one day of being bombarded with new. Our new house is coming together. My husband likes his new job. We had to get new license plates and new drivers licenses. I am learning to meet new friends. We have tried dozens and dozens of new restaurants. We’ve had to find new doctors, dentists, and optometrists. All of this new has at times been jarring, kind of like a drive on a narrow, curvy two lane country road. You never know what is around the next bend. We are discovering how to navigate the route, but, I must admit, some of it has not been easy. When I moved around in my younger years, I crammed all my belongings in my car and took off, never looking back. This move, though, has been exhausting and complicated. Our lives were uprooted from the known to the unknown, and every blind turn gives us something to either learn or unlearn.

We are discovering how to live new lives while holding onto old attachments. We miss our families, our breakfast joint, and our slew of friends. My husband misses his golf buddies. I miss hanging out with my sister on the weekends and practicing yoga with my tribe. We both miss Sunday dinners with the grandchildren, crayons scattered all over the family room floor, and playing piggy back and stacking towers of blocks only to watch them fall.

Instead we have Sunday FaceTime visits with the kids and occasional trips back home to check up on things. We are quickly learning, especially with the holidays approaching, that everything is different. Our house was the gathering place, but no longer. We will improvise and create fresh memories. Everyone will be okay, because traditions are not meant to be dictated with a permanent Sharpie. Instead, they can be erased and rewritten, fitting the new flow of our lives.

Six months and one day of new. Most of it positive. Some of it frustrating. All of it a unique adventure in this New Town of ours.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

— Walt Disney
 Our New Town
Our New Town

A Little Place for Our Stuff

“That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is- a place to keep your stuff.” – George Carlin

Moving and downsizing is an exhausting exercise in figuring out what stuff is indispensable and what stuff is superfluous. Every item is a debate in my head. “Will this fit in our new house? What if I miss it when it’s gone? Does it give me joy? Will it give someone else joy?” I hyperventilate over random batteries and spare change stuck in the back of drawers. 

So I take breaths and calm my mind. No, it won’t fit. Sell it! Donate it! Throw that crap away. No one wants that shit.

Old furniture has sold to new owners. Boxes of dishes, linens, clothes, and other goods donated to a local charity. Books dropped off for the library sale. Our garbage bin continues to fill with broken things no one can fix.

But there are still items pulling at my heart. Pieces that will travel with us to fill our new, smaller space. My mom’s old music hutch covered in her hand-painted lilacs. A Hummel of my Aunt Bug’s. My grandmother’s quilts. A stone heart I found on a California beach. A wicker basket holding all my journals. A fall landscape painting once belonging to Rock’s grandmother. The rocker my mother gave me right after my first son was born. And, of course, all the pictures. Albums, frames, and boxes of photographs, each one telling a story of who we once were.

As I pack up, sell, donate, and throw away our stuff, I find myself pondering the past. Often it is shimmering in preciousness. Photos whisper memories. Objects tell of journeys. Drawers tumble out used and torn remembrances. A move forces a look back while envisioning the future. The present is a dusty reminder of the love these walls still hold as boxes begin to gather what we will bring to our new home. We let go. We breathe. We walk toward a future that isn’t quite in focus yet. Our stuff will soon find its place, corners will quickly fill with new and old, and joy will dance in each room.

“Actually, this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That’s all; a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know?” – George Carlin

A job offer has presented us with a new opportunity for adventure. We will soon move our stuff from our hometown to a bigger city filled with rivers, arches, and Cardinals. It is both exciting and terrifying, but we welcome the journey. I hope to chronicle this odyssey as we stumble toward the future. Stay tuned.

10 Things I Miss and Don’t Miss About You

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A friend of mine asked the other day how I felt after my first semester of retired life. I paused, and then told him, “Good, but there are things I miss.” My life is so different these days. I no longer hold court where I am the queen of my classroom. I abdicated that throne. Now I am a peasant dolling out measly words, hoping a few will read what is in my soul.

So, what do I miss and not miss about my life as a teacher?

  1. I don’t think I will ever not think of the calendar year in terms of fall semester, winter break, spring semester, and summer break, no matter how old I am and how long I will have been retired. I lived according to this schedule for most of my life. Why should I change now?
  2. I love knowing I can go to the bathroom any time I want, instead of holding my bladder until the next bell and then running the gauntlet through the crowded hallways to the faculty break room praying there isn’t a line. It’s a simple joy, one you don’t appreciate unless you have been there.
  3. I so enjoy my mornings. I used to rise at 5:15 AM, get ready, grab a quick breakfast, and be on the road by 6:45 AM. Now I still usually get up before dawn, but I grab my old robe, brew a pot of coffee, and then sit down with my morning pages. This journal is my meditation, my quiet beginning.These notebooks contain clean, white pages that give me inspiration and goals for my day.
  4. In a weird way, I miss saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. I can’t explain it. I just do.
  5. I don’t have to eat lunch at 10:20 AM. I’m still hungry at that time, but I don’t have to eat. Yes, 10:20 AM. Crazy, I know.
  6. Since I don’t eat lunch early, I no longer am starving at 3:00 PM. I don’t consume entire sleeves of crackers or snarf down half boxes of cookies the moment I walk in the door. I’m good.
  7. I miss the noise. I miss the loud hallways, the constant chatter, the boisterous pushing, the inappropriate cussing (kids, not me…well, usually not me), the tangible sound of adolescent lust in the air. All I have is my snoring kittens, the clicking of the keyboard, and the buzz of our furnace. Everything is peaceful. Sigh…
  8. I am embracing each day. I have some commitments, but mostly the days are mine. I can write, read, bake, practice yoga, knit, nap, or just binge watch Netflix. I can tackle a big project or spend time just walking in the woods. 
  9. Every teacher has his or her favorite lesson to teach. Mine was Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. I never tired of it. I miss Romeo’s angst and Juliet’s strength. I miss the gorgeous language that always made me ache with joy. I miss the tragic young love. I miss the looks on kids’ faces when they realized Mercutio was really dead or how Juliet’s father treated her at the end of Act III. (I don’t miss hearing freshmen murder the Bard’s words when reading aloud. Oh. My. Goodness. Never. Never. Never.)
  10. I love being able to reinvent myself. I choke a bit when I call myself a writer, but it gets easier with each blog I post and each article that is published. I guess I will always be a teacher, only now I am using the written word instead of standing up in front of a classroom.

Every day is a quiet, little adventure. Each word is a brick on this new road. All of these present moments create both delight and wistfulness for the past and the future.

“Beware of missing chances; otherwise it may be altogether too late some day.” Franz Liszt