Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"And so it goes."

The truck is loaded and gone, the house is clean and empty and eerily quiet. I wander outside and consider the peach tree which, thanks to an early spring, is loaded with fruit for the first time. In contrast, a single apple hangs from the other tree, grown to large proportions thanks to it's uniqueness. The space where the swing set stood is barren, and I remember how Jon and my dad rushed to build it in the days before and after Isaac was born.
Back inside.. still that unnerving quiet. The kids are with Jon's parents now, as my own parents and I finish the last minute cleaning. Everything went very smoothly. Packing and loading went exactly as expected, and we used about as much space in the truck as I predicted. Not everything made the final cut, but all items found good homes which is as much as I could ask for. Cleaning went faster than expected, minus an unfortunate incident involving my foot and the sharp edge of the shower door. [At least both parties had been recently scoured.]
The other aspects of moving - paperwork, logistics, phone calls, maps, planning road trip activities - are also complete. We need only pack the cars and go.
All of these steps were made possible by the heroic efforts of our friends and family. My mom took the brunt of  child care during moving day(s), arguably the hardest job. I wanted the kids to see what was happening to the house, to ease the transition and help them understand that their treasures are in fact coming with us. So they observed, played with some friends, and tried to "help" as much as possible. It was rough at times. And as much as I wanted to involve the kids, moving is grown up work. Suffice it to say, my mom had her work cut out for her.
Meanwhile, Jon played the giant game of Tetris that is loading a truck. He's always had a good eye for this, and stacked our bins and boxes and furniture higher than I thought possible. By the end he was more mentally tired than physically tired. Thankfully, over the three final days many friends helped with the lifting and carrying and cleaning. One dear friend even provided breakfast that first day. Others came to say goodbye, making me wonder again why we are doing this.
These are my thoughts as I walk through the empty house, checking the cupboards and rooms one last time (yes, there is a forgotten item in the very last cupboard), making sure everything is in order. Not just for our benefit, but because I want the new people to enjoy this house. As my neighbor put it, home selling/buying can create a seeming enemy where none actually exists. We've certainly had that sensation, and it's not a nice note to leave on. So, I try to make peace with this transition as closing looms.
And now here they are - the sobs that I knew were coming (better now than at the closing!*). Past moves were welcomed, but this one is different. This one is the giant tree stump being pulled slowly and painfully from the ground. Am I saddened by the roots pulled up, or afraid of the unseen place where the stump will land? At last, I think just the former. So the sobs don't last. The carver will turn the stump into a beautiful sculpture no matter where it lands.
So even as the kids cry and ask to go home, and even as I find it hard to lock the door that last time, and even as we allow ourselves this time of mourning, I know the intensity of feeling will pass. Adventures await, and community is where you make it. And between here and there, are many wonders to behold - World's Largest Wind Chime, anyone?

*Update: I cried at the closing. And I really don't recommend it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pros and Pros

Jon had to be in Maryland today for a business meeting, so he flew out early and did some house hunting yesterday. It's a little ironic, since I will be the one spending most of the time in the house. But I trust his judgement and we'll hopefully have a forwarding address in a day or so. Which is good because moving day is almost upon us (as in, we will be in Maryland in 2 weeks).

Jon's absence is always hard on the kids and they have been particularly on edge this time around. Lots of whining, fussing, fighting, and tantrums. Of course, I've done a few of those things myself. Jon hasn't been traveling as much lately and we're all out of practice. Then there's the whole packing thing thrown into the mix. It's been a rough couple of days.

But enough complaining. The point of this post is to look ahead, to focus on the things I am looking forward to about Maryland, as well as the things I will not miss about Colorado. Both are short lists, but it's a start.

Things I will not miss about Colorado
(1) I will not miss getting shocked when I: (a) get out of the car (every. single. time), (b) push a grocery cart more than 5 feet, (c) hang up my clothes in the closet, (d) give my boy a kiss on the top of his head after he's been rolling around on the rug.
There's a lot of static electricity around here and sometimes I feel like I'm in some sort of experiment run by aliens.

(2) My ceramic topped stove. Obviously, this is not something unique about CO, but I really hate this stove. We bought it because the original was very old and starting to break down, and people seem to like these new fangled contraptions. I don't. They can scratch, crack, and you have to use special cleaners. I really hope our rental doesn't have one of these. I don't think I could take it.

(3) Sparse trees. It is a cosmic joke that at this altitude, where shade makes the difference between pain and pleasure, there are so few trees. The older communities have more, but they take a bit of maintenance and patience to get started.

(4) Itchy skin. It's dry here, people. Really dry. In the winter, without adequate supplies of body lotion, you can literally see your skin flake off. Jon and Anna have sensitive skin, and have a particularly rough time with this. Even I struggle in the winter, with that dry skin itch that simply won't go away.

(5) Gallons of sunscreen. Living a mile high means we are a mile closer to the sun, and I am here to tell you that the sun generally wears it's cranky pants. It really wants to burn your face off. So we douse ourselves with sunscreen throughout the seasons. And my kids hate sunscreen. They really really hate it. And the good stuff is expensive. Really really expensive.

Things we will like about Maryland
(1)  Pick your own fruit. Orchards are a distinct bonus. We loved picking our own fruit in CT, as well as the higher quality of produce in general. Colorado does well with greens and other veggies, but the fruit leaves much to be desired. Although it seems like you can by many varietals of apples in CO, they pretty much taste the same.

(2) Renting. Similar to #2 above, this is not a state-specific thing. Nonetheless we will now be renting for an indeterminate length of time and I can't say I mind all that much. I'll miss the tax break, and the freedom to improve/destroy my home as I see fit. On the other hand, I will not miss worrying that the hot water heater could go at any minute, and pricing out new furnaces when the time comes (you know it will). I'm also looking forward to less square footage. I hate washing floors.

(3) The ocean. I don't really know how close the salt water beaches are, but surely there will be something within driving distance.

(4) Crab. Let me be clear on this point. I do not wish to catch a crab, boil a crab, or prepare crab in any way. They are as ugly as sin, and too similar to local arachnids I have seen.  But I will eat a prepared crab, enjoying every buttery morsel. Just don't make me look at it beforehand.

(5) Autumn. Autumn in Connecticut was so lovely, and I assume it will be similarly beautiful here. Because there will be actual trees. (See #3 above).

(6) New job. This is the best part of moving. Jon will enjoy his work more, and you can't put a price on that. It's been a hard few years for him in this respect, and I hope he feels more valued and challenged in this new position.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bone yards, with cow

That's probably the strangest label+ I've put on a box so far, and it highlights the highly personal nature of packing one's house. I've had many offers of help when it comes to packing, but at the end of the day it's something we need to do ourselves. Not only does it afford the exquisite opportunity to organize and purge, but only we know which things will go into storage and which will be unpacked. Since we're downsizing (*sigh*) and renting for an unspecified time (*double sigh*) quite a proportion of our things will remain in boxes. Perhaps once we retire (*sigh in the form of a question mark*) I will be able to unpack and use my lovely wedding china.

So packing is coming along, and I'm almost done with the non-essentials. Of course, there's a shocking amount of essentials, but I'm trying not to dwell on that. My mom is now here, and we have been taking turns distracting the kids which has been helpful. She has also brought a ton of dill flavoured rice cakes (along with some salt-and-vinegar and sour-cream-and-onion) which for some reason we can't buy here. (We also can't buy catsup flavoured potato chips, but I am not sad about that).

In terms of child-distraction it's a tough time here. The hottest June on record has just concluded, so basically the only thing we can do outside is swim. Luckily, our rec center has a nice pool and we know a fair number of people with community pools. We've probably swam more in the last month than in the past 4 years combined. This has had a positive effect on Anna's relationship with water, which has always been testy. She has managed to dunk herself under the water a few times which was a big leap forward. Isaac has discovered the concept of floating around in a tube. Things become a little hairy when he wants to float around sans tube.

I've also been intentional about taking the kids to some of their favorite places one last time to say goodbye. I want us to "end well" as my friend put it. We've got one or two places left to go, and then I'll feel we've attained closure. I try not to dwell on the finality of these excursions, but I do take pictures and note that this will be our last time at a particular place. Through all this I've felt a little robbed. This is Anna's last summer before starting kindergarten, and I wanted to spend this time having fun and exploring new places, instead of saying good bye to old ones. Isaac is also older, and since he's not napping anymore, we have more time to go out and do interesting things like hiking and swimming in actual lakes. I try not to think about this too much, but once in awhile I'm reminded and get a little sulky.

All in all, I think Anna is ready to go now. Heaven knows it's getting boring around here, what with the swing set gone and more and more toys disappearing into boxes. It is hard to communicate to the kiddos that I need to spend time packing instead of playing tea party or cars. Too often I've resorted to "I need to pack this or it can't come with us to Maryland." [Overall, I think I'm resorting to threats with greater frequency than I ought. Bad pattern of behavior, and trying to work on this.] I have a whole collection of novel crafts and toys and books that are awaiting the car trip, and I pray I don't need to use them before we head out. I also hope the temps cool down so Mom can take them to the park.

So that's what's going on here. I'm proud of my kids for handling this situation with as much grace as possible. They are such flexible little creatures, and I can learn from them. Relative to us adults they easily make new friends, adjust to new situations, and make fun wherever they are. Surely Maryland will be no exception.

+For the interested: The bone yards are a collection of broken items that are awaiting crazy glue. The cow is a smaller version of the bovines that dotted New York for awhile (she is also awaiting glue). I had never been to NYC before, and when I saw these cows everywhere it made me feel a little more at ease.