We're back from our travels. I'm sitting in bed, the kids are rotting in front of the TV, Robb is working at his home office set-up in the garage. We're moving pretty slowly these first few days back from traveling for almost a month straight- first driving the eleven hours to and fro Oregon, then taking seven planes and staying in six different places in Michigan and Ohio. It's not just the jet lag, it's also the emotional weight that's flattened us. When we left our home of sixteen years on New Year's Day, 2021...and the midwest where we'd lived almost our entire lives and our kids had lived exclusively...it was in the middle of COVID. We hadn't seen friends and family for almost a year. So this trip 'home' was the goodbye tour we never got. It was hard, as it's meant to be. Plus, it's still terrifying, as only half of us are old enough to be vaccinated, and every bit of travel feels like potential exposure.
It's a weird feeling, facing the fact that we chose isolation, that we deliberately left the nest where we know people, where we have a network, to seek something new and different. We feel certain, exquisitely certain, that we've found the right place and are doing the right thing for our family and ourselves, but also it's lonely. I don't mind being alone. I like it, but it feels exposed to not have anyone close physically backing us up. Signing my kids up for camp, I realized that outside of Robb and me, unless our ONE FRIEND happens to be in town, our closest emergency contact is 3,000 miles away. That feels perilous. Now. I didn't feel it as much before we saw everyone, saw that life kept going when we left, saw how we slipped back into the order of things there. We didn't *have* to move here, we're tripping on resources, we're of the dominant culture and speak the dominant language, so ours is an easy and superficial scary, but it gives me the tiniest taste of what people who are immigrating from other countries might feel. I'll get a chance to ask, once I get to know my neighbors and make some friends (and once they trust me to talk about this kind of thing)- most people in our community were born in another country and speak another language at home.
We were on the move the whole time we were gone, and true to form, it's when I get still again, that I feel the rush of feelings. On the road, it was all laughter and french fries and pool parties, now it's back to some sort of quiet grind, some sort of having to create a new normal, set up a new life, so far away from the one we had.
I'm up to it. I've done it. I've moved trans-continentally before, from Michigan to Mississippi, when I was twenty-two and freshly married and graduated, I've found new friends, built new life. I can and will do it, but it doesn't change the fact that it's hard. The days between unsettled and settled are long.
Good thing there's all this fucking sunshine! That does help.
I have to go finish fifty-five thousand hours of girl scout leadership training, but when I come back, I'll tell you about the old woman who fell off the ferry and about how I drove a horse-drawn buggy.