Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Snapshots of life thus far.

Dinner overlooking the Columbia River. No less than five times Mario utter the words "I can't believe we live here!"
We stumbled across this food truck on an unassuming Saturday afternoon, nestled among industrial buildings. Dude. Duuuude. A lucky find, indeed.
We already have a favorite coffee shop. Though we can't declare an actual winner with so many possibilities yet to be explored.
The Pacific Northwest has the sexiest fruit. And it hasn't stopped wooing us yet. (New England cherries were $7.99/lb when we left and nowhere near as mind-blowingly yum.)
With our futures so wide-open, I thought it wise to have my fortune told. I'm sure this must have some profound meaning...
An architectural salvage store like nothing we've ever seen. Mouths agape the whole time.
A darling dessert food truck outside our lunch destination. Did you know Portland has more than 500 food trucks? We intend to eat at every one of them. At this rate, we'll be done by week's end.
IKEA meatballs. Because we moved and every move involves a requisite visit to IKEA, and every IKEA visit involves a requisite meatball break.
This dude makes me deliriously happy. (And occasionally craaazy. But mostly so, so happy. No one knows your buttons better than your kid. Amiright?)
After breakfast at a local diner one morning, Kiddo and I drank insanely good coffee while reading side-by-side. He is a most excellent young man and a devourer of books.
Endlessly talented, this one. He's one of those rare and mythical creatures who is athletic and crazy smart and super determined. So he scales the hardest walls with the greatest of ease. While wearing Chucks, duh.
A new favorite restaurant. (Lardo)
Architecture to die for, often when you least expect it.
Gah! These two! They sure make life grand.
A visit to our neighborhood farmer's market. We started things off right.
Double gah! Can you feel the studliness emanating from your computer screen?
Crunchy new sandals, a tribal print bag, and an overpriced but delicious cold-brewed coffee (on our way to REI no less). I'm feelin' native. [These sandals. Seriously. I never want to take them off. Sanuk Yoga Sling 2]
Aforementioned dessert truck? They serve their treats on vintage dishware. I could have pinched my strawberry shortcake's cheeks. [Note: a good decent blogger would have grouped her pictures to create some level of flow. I apologize. I'll work on my lackluster performance. Getting back in the saddle, yo.]
We had a small meltdown trying to decide where to eat dinner the other night. (Too many choices! Minds blown!) We missed our turn and, out of desperation to just make a decision already!, stopped at a place not far from our house. It's one of those conveyor belt sushi places. It was Kiddo's first foray into such things and only my second. Fun and full stomachs were had by all. So far our best discoveries have been totally unscripted.

A snapshot into life thus far in the Pacific Northwest. I've become a lackluster blogger and even more lackluster photographer. My DSLR hasn't made it into the car once in the last two weeks. Not a single adventure has been documented with it. And so the iPhone has been stretching its legs perhaps more than usual or I'd have nothing to show as evidence of this fresh new existence.

I have yet to establish some semblance of a schedule, nor have I found The Perfect Place to write. I thought I had one, but Mario and I nearly suffered heat stroke (and some seriously unattractive sweating occurred) yesterday upon realizing the design of the old building offers itself to a greenhouse effect and they are sorely lacking in the air conditioning department. Oh, well. It seems that schedules and rhythms and such are hard earned but easily interrupted. To much coffee and irregular bedtimes and a whirring mind all contribute to the topsy turviness of life right now. But considering we turned our world upside-down just two weeks ago, I think we are doing pretty well. We are even on the road to home decorating with all the essentials unpacked and a few pictures already hung.

My goal is to rejoin the workforce in October, once Kiddo is good and settled in his new school, so I've been shopping the healthcare job market over the last couple days. Holy moly am I overwhelmed. Grad school requires hands-on patient care in order to apply, but there seem to be a zillion necessary certifications to do even the most entry level jobs and I'm digging in my heels at the prospect of going back to school for a year (and thus put off working for another year) to get a certificate on top of a bachelors degree just so I can gain some current experience. But I suppose now may not be the time to tackle big picture stuff. Things have fallen into place beautifully thus far and I have no reason to believe this won't as well.

In the meantime we are enjoying our new surroundings, as each day they become increasingly familiar. I can get myself to and from the essential places sans gps and have even expanded to some more distant locations. And although moving from three acres in the woods to suburbia comes with an adjustment period, I'm loving it. Neighbors, garbage pickup, a great recycling program (used foil! plastic beyond 1 and 2!), walking trails, a grocery store just two minutes away, a yard that take mere minutes to mow, air conditioning (!!!)... I could go on and on. I'm not a prissy girl, lest it seem that way. I can lift heavy things and use an industrial snowblower and drive manual transmissions, but I've come to understand that, while I don't need them, creature comforts are something I enjoy (especially after years without them). Also, more than once I've been midway through the process of changing my shirt or running to get a drink of water in my underpants before realizing that there is a clear sight line to one of the neighbor's houses. Note to self: you now have neighbors. On all sides.

This week Kiddo is at camp. While he enjoys sleeping in late and playing Legos all day in his pajamas, we quickly realized the need to establish a schedule. Not just him; all of us. So we investigated overnight camps in the area and found the perfect one for him. I hope he's out there getting muddy and doing adventurous things with like-minded kiddos. Our very first day he went and introduced himself to some kids on our street who play basketball in the evenings, and has since been back to play several times. He's never had that before and I'm so glad there are kids nearby. He needs that social outlet more than he needs to live in the middle of the woods... though that time in our lives was valuable, too. Mario and I contemplated going away for a night since we are sans child, but instead made the decision to stick around. Why complicate things? There are plenty of experiences to be had, and it will be nice to have a little grown-up time meanwhile enjoying our new home.

So that's a glimpse into our lives over the past week or so. I've been thinking a lot about making a house a home, as we are renters for the first time in 10 years and that was a confusing prospect initially. (Do you put holes in walls? How do we make it our own? Is that even possible? Turns out it is.) But that's a post in and of itself, one I hope to have written tomorrow while the thoughts are still fresh.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

A gift from a friend given the night before we left. It became a good luck charm of sorts and hasn't left my wrist since.

...and just like that, we're here. I had high hopes of blogging from the battlefield known as I-94. I'm a dreamer, you see, and a dreamer actually believes that it is totally reasonable and within her capability to write and edit a blog post in the wee hours of the morning after driving the better part of a whole day. If I had it to do over again, I'd still think I could do it (and I don't particularly want to do it again). 

So before I write about the new house and life thus far on another coast, I want to properly wrap up the journey that got us here. Because, dude, it wasn't insignificant. Road warriors were we. And that man of mine. Oh, that man. Every single moment of those 3000+ miles was spent driving that truck. Going 30mph max on mountain passes that went on forever... eating food from places solely based on the pull-through capability of their parking lot... gas station coffee... stopping at truck stops every 300 miles to fill up. again. We worked for this move.  

Despite the inherent challenges that arise when moving yourselves across the country, after Day 1 we established an easy rapport with the road. Towns and cities came and went and the miles melted away. I listened my way through The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Wheat Belly, and the better part of Faithful Place. When Kiddo rode with me, we listened to Shadow and Bone. Not bad for 6 days; it would be months (or more) before I ever got around to reading them in print. 

The cat and dog rode in my backseat and all that went fairly smoothly. Except for the meltdown on Day 5 that involved both yowling and howling that culminated in a screeching halt before the Welcome to Idaho sign in order to separate them. From then on the cat got the front seat and the dog shared the back with the cooler. Both held it together and not another peep was made.

In the first few days I stayed behind the truck, ever its faithful follower. I didn't want Mario and Kiddo out of my sight, which likely stemmed from irrational fear and the need to feel stable and in control despite the general lack of stability. But as the days passed and my anxiety relaxed, I began making stops here and there. Then I could set the cruise control at normal highway speed and play catch up. Kiddo, Jack and I hiked Pompey's Pillar in eastern Montana. I made a quick detour and drove by the apartment we lived in when Kiddo was just a tiny little thing. I stopped occasionally for coffee breaks and miscellaneous Target runs and short walks with the dog. (We were pretty well prepared for the drive, but I have to admit that I accidentally boxed up all but two pairs of shorts for Kiddo. Oops. Target to the rescue.)

Somewhere among those thousands of miles I let go of the fuss and stress and general ick that came with leaving the old. The goodbyes and the cleaning and the house selling and the packing. All of it seemed to melt into the past where it has stayed ever since. In many ways that arduous journey across the U.S. was the best thing for us. Because upon arriving, we were ready. To start over. To embrace a new life and all that entails. There has been no sadness or homesickness or malaise associated with this move. Likely because we spent six days processing all of it. Our emotional junk is all over middle America. Mine, anyway. 

And now here we are. The hard stuff is behind us and the rest is pretty darn good. The house is coming together and familiarity is setting in. It's weird: the moment we moved all of our stuff in, our old life literally felt 3000 miles away. Despite almost seven years in that area, and just shy of one week in this one, I scarcely remember our day-to-day life. There is no attachment or personal connection anymore. I remember it, but as someone looking in from the outside... as if I was never an active participant in my own life. It's a rather weird head space, but not unpleasant. This natural tendency to look forward, and never back, seems like yet another assurance that we made the right choice.
 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On the move.

A truer fortune could not have been read.
 





And just like that, we are neither here nor there. The first half of yesterday was spent packing up those last things... the things that are placed in boxes marked "miscellaneous". The night before had been spent with the best kind of friends, laughing and breaking bread one last time before we left for good. Though does anyone really leave for good these days with airplanes and social media and such? Anyway, we had aimed to head out by mid-morning, but you know how these things go. We had several rooms left to clean and mattresses to get on the truck and last minute this and thats. We were exhausted and overwhelmed... it felt as if we were wading through molasses.

I have cried twice throughout this process: once on Sunday while having a farewell lunch with my beloved CrossFit coach who has also become a dear friend. In trying to tell her what both her and CrossFit have meant to me, I broke a little. Then there was that time yesterday. I had stubbed my toe and painfully broken my pinky toenail. Kiddo spilled his breakfast juice, spraying it across the floor. And what lay between me and the open road was what seemed like an insurmountable amount of work still left to do. So I put my face in my hands and sobbed for a good 15 seconds. And just as quickly as the tears had come, they left. Because although moving away from an old life and all that it entails is an inherently difficult process, it's also joyous. Otherwise no one would ever attempt such a feat.

Although that house never quite felt like home, it provided shelter through a pretty profound period of our lives. Kiddo finished elementary school, then middle school. Countless nights were spent poring over textbooks and writing papers at the kitchen table, which earned me a college degree. Husband's career has seen its fair share of changes, too. The woman that walked out of that house for the last time yesterday scarcely resembles the one that first stepped foot in it almost 7 years ago. In only the best ways. I'll look back on this period and see a lot of hardships. But there was a lot of good stuff, too; though it's often hard to keep that sort of perspective when you're in the midst of all the fuss. As I walked through all the empty rooms, not once, but two or three times, I chose to remember only the good stuff.

All of our earthly possessions are nestled inside a 26' truck. It was no easy feat, let me tell you. And while I'm on the subject of loading said beast, I have to take a moment to mention my husband. Because, gosh, he's something pretty amazing. I have one of those men. He heaved impossible loads onto his back, single-handedly hitched a trailer to a moving truck then secured an SUV to the trailer. He held down the fort and plugged away so I could say some last goodbyes to friends over lunch and complete one last CrossFit workout. Scraped elbows and sweat-drenched shirts be damned. He worked through exhaustion and frustration and didn't quit for a second. Just when I think it's impossible to love him more, to be more proud of him, he shines even brighter.

As the last square foot of floor was mopped, we closed the door on our old life and drove away. And have been doing so ever since. The days are long, but time becomes rather fluid when facing the open road. And I can think of no better place to ponder one's thoughts on life, love and blogging. The truck devours diesel, necessitating regular stops, so we never quite reach a point of intolerance. A gas guzzling engine would normally get under my skin, but I have decided that this is most certainly not the time or place to dwell on one's carbon footprint. Road trips are also chock full of wild behavior like Starbucks stops at 9p and the reckless consumption of audiobooks. My iPod is chock full of literature I'd probably never read in paper form... I can already feel my mind being broadened.

We have found a steady rhythm. New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and now Illinois. Tomorrow we will see more of what The States have to offer. And in a few short days, we start our lives anew.