Thursday, January 5, 2012

Honey, have you seen that box. . .?

"People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened." - You've Got Mail

This morning I asked friends for blog topic suggestions, since this is new to me and I'm trying to figure out what makes a blog entertaining  - I mean, besides resorting to bathroom humor. . .

Sacrilegious Urinals
Why does Paul Simon's "Mother & Child Reunion"  pop into my head as I look at this?
(Photo courtesy of Clark Sorenson, via Atlantic Monthly and Toilet (the book)

A good friend suggested I write about our move from Texas to the Carolinas, which began in late July and ended in late September.  

Would you like to know what's great about a cross-country move that takes 3 months to complete? So would I. Leave a comment below and we'll discuss it. 

How did our adventure in cardboard, bubble wrap and tape begin? So glad you asked. My husband left Texas after our daughter's 9th birthday celebration, traveling 1100 miles two weeks after a job offer was made and saying goodbye to the charming wife and only child. In May, he had been laid off after 13 years when the employer was bought out by a competitor.  Luckily, he had been offered a job with the new company - but in Phoenix, which we agreed had a view that could less than pleasant:

An asthmatic's dream, no?

We lived in "tornado alley" for most of our lives, Texas was in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history, which meant we'd be packing enough dust in the moving boxes, thank you very much. 

We took a pass. 

So, hubby packed up a few things, drove for 2 days to the Charlotte area, found a one-bedroom apartment (?!) in South Carolina and settled in, going to work at 10 pm, walking to the lake every day, feeding fish, hanging out by the pool, eating baked beans whenever he wanted. . .adjusting to the new normal, I guess you could say. In the meantime, what did I do? A little bit of this and that - and EVERYTHING ELSE. Good times.

In a later post, I'll talk about how we are adjusting as a family to this new state (which they refer to as "The Carolinas" - like the north and south are conjoined twins), but it's hard to appreciate what makes the Deep South special. . .when you look at the map and see that your home state is, well, deeper south, geographically speaking. 

What was the move from Texas like? If I don't dig too deeply, I can say it was one of the most challenging things I've ever done. I'm proud of handling a lot of responsibility on my own: downsizing the contents of our home of 10 years, coordinating its rental, packing things up and working with the movers who showed up one day early, then 6 hours late the next day - and giving them something to eat and drink (Thanks, Aunt Judy, for the tip!) It was also empowering to drive over a thousand miles with a nine year old daughter and a cat (and the litter box. . .who needs rest areas and gas station rest rooms?). I'm the same woman, who, at age 16,  drove into a maize field because she was trying to roll down the passenger window at the same time. 

What?! No power windows? What am I supposed to do with this? 

Ohhhh, that's MUCH better.  

Before the move, my husband and I tried to focus on the good things about the situation with our daughter - who was brought home to that big house with the big yard on the corner in town over 9 years ago, who met her best friends when she was 18 months old at the Baptist Church, and who loved their moms like family.  What did we do? We turned her into the girl who left after the first six weeks of school - a new school where she was settling in, singing every Friday during Mass and learning Spanish. Those classmates all sent her handmade Christmas cards last month, which brought tears to my eyes  - and a huge smile to her face. I'm sniffling as I type about it now. (Talk amongst yourselves. I'll be right back.)

SEGUE! (Let's move on, shall we?)

Was our move a big deal to our families? Here's a little imagery to paint in your mind. :) 

My husband and I are in our 40s, parents to one and siblings to none. We are a family of 3 "only" children. (The family tree has a few more branches, but I'm not talented enough to figure out where they belong.)  Our parents still live in Texas, in the same county we did. They are in their 60s and 70s - still married - to each other.  If we're not there for a family celebration, it's safe to say there really isn't one. In 1994, my husband and I married the Saturday before Mother's Day. Self-centered? Us?! 

The morning our kidlet and I left for Texas, my mother-in-law asked to be taken to the ER because of a migraine.  When I was hospitalized last month with an infection and pneumonia, she flew out the same day to "look after things" while I was sick.  Whenever she and my father-in-law pick us up in their car, she moves to the back seat (with her granddaughter) "to give me more leg room" up front.  

(Sure am glad my husband is the reason we had to move. . .ahem.)

My parents? They were excited for us, saying it would be a great adventure - just like it was when I was a child and my dad was in the Air Force. The difference? You had shared experiences as a military family relocating every few years - and my grandma usually came and stayed with us. Often. For months at a time.  Lucky dad.

The reality? We are the kids who moved away when most children are coming back to spend time with their parents and help when needed. My parents are older, and they'll need my help sooner - and I'm not there. Before we left for the Carolinas,  Mom & Dad told me I didn't need to come back if "something happened." These are the same people who have been helpful enough to joke about going down to the funeral home to make sure their cremations are paid for so I don't have to do it myself - and to remind me that Mom's ashes go in a Windex bottle to be displayed on the mantel.  

The reality, however, is that Dad can't travel due to COPD - which basically means that because he smoked for most of his life, he has the lung capacity of a 110-year-old. (Don't ask me how a machine can calculate it, but it did - and TriCare paid for it.) My parents won't be coming here to visit. Ever. 

My in-laws will come, but they'll need us, too. It's not a matter of if they'll need us, but when.  How do I know this? In the past two weeks, my father-in-law has driven his Mercedes convertible over a parking spot curb (tearing off the front bumper when he backed out), broken the mechanism that controls the convertible top - and, yesterday, backed into a pickup. (The pickup won.) 

I know it's not the worst thing in the world to be far away from family and friends, but it's not a reality check you want to write very often.  Keep that in mind. Relocation wasn't optional. In this economy, we went where the work could be found, but my husband, daughter, parents and I are all paying a price for it - in time. 

I think, as I spent six weeks sorting, packing, cleaning, clearing, and compartmentalizing everything in sight, I tried to do the same with my thoughts and feelings and the conflict I faced. I've kept some of them in storage until I find the time and the space to open them up again. That's not written on any moving checklist, but it should be. 

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