Sunday, September 20, 2015

Not Even 3 Months and It’s Already LOVE!

“Mom, I love it here!  I want to stay.” [Insert my sinking heart here.]

Both of my children separately uttered these words to me, unprompted, last week as we were going about our daily living.  The kids love their new schools, their neighborhood, and their routines.  Love with a capital L, maybe even LOVE with all capitals.  They are happy, joyful, bursting at the seams, wanting, wishing that this place is Home.  As in permanent home.  Or at the very least, longer-than-10-months home.

Handsome Young Man and Diva Darling are excited for each and every day.  No moping.  No dread.  No bullying.  Just happy to be here.  Present and in the moment. 

I am relieved that this transition has been easy for them.  (Maybe too easy!)

I may even pat myself on the back for making choices that have benefited my family. Since the spring, I have prepared them as best I could about upcoming changes, handling themselves in new situations, making new friends, being themselves, and having the courage to try new things.  It makes my head spin, thinking about how much has been thrown at them this past summer. 

If the Queen Bee is calm, her Busy Bees should be calm too, right?  Although if you truly knew how I handled this move, calm would not be the first word choice that comes to mind.  Our hive has transplanted and is thriving and buzzing along splendidly in the Deep South.

And yet…

My heart already sinks knowing that staying here is highly unlikely.  That this time next year, we will be somewhere else, most likely a place we have never been before, with new schools, a new neighborhood, a new routine.  I am already dreading the break-up.

I do not dread the relocation and all the details and decisions it entails.  I dread detaching from here and putting on my brave face to be the newcomer yet again.  It’s getting harder for me because now it involves watching how my children will detach themselves from a place that they have grown to love, watching them insert themselves in a new place.

I can only hope that they will continue to be excited for each and every day.  Today.  And one year from today in the new place.

But let me remind myself to not get ahead of myself. I am happy to be here.  I am present and in the moment.  Because it’s not even three months, and it’s love!  Ok, love is a strong word.  Although perhaps I am willing to say I am, surprisingly, rather smitten with Montgomery.

How marvelous that it is my children who, unintentionally, remind me that everything is going to be alright when it is I who thinks I am teaching them life's lessons.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Not Our Forever Home

How much of ourselves do we invest in our neighborhood when we know this is not our forever home?

The neighborhood hosted a back-to-school bash this weekend.  “Here is a fantastic opportunity to meet our neighbors,” I thought.  While we all enjoyed a lovely Saturday morning outside, I viewed attendance of this event as fun, but more importantly, strategic – I was scoping for kids and parents that I’d hope to meet, that perhaps we could be fast friends, especially for our children.  We met a few of our neighbors.  Our neighbors knew exactly which house was ours. “Oh, you live in the yellow house on the main street. I know it’s a rental.”

“I know it’s a rental.”

By her tone and the context of the conversation, it certainly sounded like a loaded statement to me.  Loaded with assumptions and barriers.  Or maybe not.  Maybe just an observation, no judgment intended.  (Am I too sensitive?)

Our interactions with our neighbors reminded me of what makes a neighborhood a great place to live - strong connections and hopefully encouraging, welcoming attitudes. Proximity doesn’t necessarily make neighbors your true neighbors.  Don’t get me wrong, the neighborhood is fantastic; the amenities are amazing.  If we make not one friend or acquaintance with any of our neighbors, our family will be just fine.  But I know as a seasoned and perpetual newcomer, I will feel at home in my new neighborhood and feel that I belong, once I have built strong connections, once I am known.

Yet building strong connections takes time. 

We know we will only live here in this house in this neighborhood for less than one year.  

“We don’t want our son to get attached and then be disappointed,” the mom said to me at the pool when we were making small talk about why we both moved here to this area.  She didn’t say that our boys or that we couldn’t be friends, but she paused.  I suppose it is daunting to make a connection knowing immediately from the start that it will be short-lived.  This is daunting to both the established and to the newcomer alike.  Making connections takes energy.  Who has the extra energy for that in our modern busyness?

I give kudos to another neighbor who introduced us to everyone that came our way at the picnic.  We all are introduced by name and by house. “We’re two houses down on Chapel Hill Street, on the left.”  “We live in the yellow house on Main Street.”  Etc.

We need community.  Much of my time and energy is to identify opportunities to build community.  To be part of something.  For myself and always for the children. 

The lesson is to show up.  Show up consistently.  Face the discomfort of not knowing anybody.  Face another round of small talk.  Be open to possibility.  Be open to opportunity.  Give freely of yourself. 

Admittedly, this advice is difficult for me to follow, more so as I get older.  It seems to take so much more energy now, to put myself out there.  To invite people in.  To be known.  When I was younger, the constant moving was an adventure.  Now it seems like work and less enjoyable. 

How much should you invest in your new town of 10 months?  I have decided that I will invest in today.  I will show up.  Consistently.   With an encouraging, welcoming attitude and smile.  I will be known.  It will all be worthwhile.  Because I will never know when my soon-to-be-forever friend is waiting for me at my new-to-me neighborhood picnic.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

One Month Down in my New Hometown

The boxes are unpacked.  Mostly. 

The house is functional but not yet cozy.

I pause while I’m walking around the house. I’m trying to remember that the light switch for the kitchen light is outside the kitchen and the light switch for the guest bathroom is on the right when it should clearly be on the left.  I still marvel how creaky the wood floor is. I have spaces I don’t know what to do with, such as the gigantic gaping hole above the fireplace mantle, intended for the TV. Neither our TV nor any of our picture frames fit the space, and I am not overly interested in addressing it right now.

 In other words, I still feel awkward in my own house.

However, I can now drive around town without the GPS! Most of the time, anyway. 

I have decided on which grocery store and gas stations I’ll frequent.  I know how many minutes to allot to drive to the children’s schools. I have located and registered each child for one after-school extracurricular activity. We are in search of a church home.

I am living in the time “In between”, and I’m waiting.  Novelty is wearing off, but I’m not yet established.  To not feel like a newbie takes time, of course.  I am impatient.

I’m waiting. 

*  For school to start. 
*  To establish a routine.
*  To find my peeps.
*  To decide on my time, my schedule.

“In between” time is lonely but also offers possibility.  It is a time for reflection and reinvention.  Old rules from the last place may not apply.  It’s a short-term assignment.  I have 10 months of living before the next Change & Transition of another military move.  (This PCS may be the year of fitness.  I may live at the gym!)

I’m still learning to navigate through, wondering when “I’m new in town” becomes “I live here,” when I feel at home.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Job Relocation: Life in Transition – from Texas to Alabama

Baby, it’s hot outside!

Let’s start with the HEAT.  It’s hot.  Sweltering.  The kind of heat which I equate to sweatiness behind the knees and constant dampness in the small of the back.

I always appreciate dark clouds gathering in the distance for a late afternoon shower respite.  And God bless the makers of A/C units, the legion of HVAC technicians, and electricity. 

It may be 98 degrees outside in both Texas and in Alabama, but I can feel the difference between the dry, baking heat of Texas and the sweat-drenched, humid heat of Alabama.

Attitude of Gratitude: We have access to the neighborhood pool.  Daily, if needed.

I am surviving.

3 days to Pack Up, 3 weeks to Unpack (if you’re really determined)

It’s the beginning of Week 4.  I’m still surrounded by boxes.  
One of the joys of moving is the realization that I am abundantly blessed with too much stuff, even after the pre-move and post-move purge.

Another joy is mastering the Art of the Unpack, which is a whole discussion in of itself.  While we are enjoying the same square footage of this home to our previous house, the floor layout is completely different.  4 bedroom, 2.5 baths with garage to 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths with no garage.  We are a family that needs a place for the out-of-sight, out-of-mind boxes, at least temporarily. 

Attitude of Gratitude: Hubby and I are getting solid ideas, backed by empirical evidence, for our forever home.  Size matters, in regards to kitchen & closet size.  The rest of the house is negotiable.

Summer Time and the Livin’ is Easy.  Idyllic Living in the Deep South.

I am now ready to explore my temporary hometown.  We have a farmer’s market in our neighborhood!  For sight unseen (i.e. Internet-only pictures & an “It’s-only-a-year-I-can-deal” mentality), our rental house and neighborhood have turned out to be quite lovely.
My goal this week is to attempt Fried Green Tomatoes.  We are in the South, after all, y’all.