Posted tagged ‘relocation’

Emergency Contact Numbers

February 28, 2012

I’ve made several attempts at writing this blog post over the last week and I’ve failed over and over again to finish it. It’s a really tough one for me because I’m not so much celebrating an anniversary, as holding my breath and waiting for it to pass.

We arrived in St. John’s a year ago. I hardly remember the lovely rental home we lived in for the first four and a half months. I realize now that there were things I could have done differently that might have made it seem like a less traumatic experience. I’m going to share some of these things here only in the hope that someone else going through a relocation might read about my experience, and learn something to make their own even a little bit easier. You see, this is the reason I started this blog in the first place. When we set out to move to Thompson, I found so little on the internet about relocation. Sure, there’s companies advertising how they can help make your move easier — Let us do your packing! Believe me, the packing is not the issue. The emotional baggage you’ll wear for the rest of your life is.

I got a cell phone when we moved rather than a land line, because I knew we’d be moving again once our house in Thompson sold, and I thought one phone with a number I wouldn’t have to change would make more sense. Besides, I wanted to be reachable should my daughter’s school ever need to get in contact with me. I am not a paranoid parent. But I remember feeling paranoid that my daughter wouldn’t be able to reach me in the event of an emergency.

I also remember crying every time I had to fill out a form — for the kids’ schools, or for the couple activities I signed them up for — where there’s a space to put an emergency contact number. I didn’t have an emergency contact. Well, I did, I was grateful I could put my husband’s boss’s wife as a contact. But that was like a surrogate. I didn’t have any personal contacts here. No family. No friends.

I let the cell phone be an excuse to not reach out to my own friends in other provinces. I should have been calling my girlfriends, I should have been expressing my loneliness, my joys and successes and adventures. Instead, I allowed myself to sink into a foreign kind of isolation. I shunned some of the mom’s groups I could have joined because I was tired, and wanted any extra energy I had leftover from caring for my children, for my writing.

I remember feeling like I had to be a hero, I had to be settled and fine with everything, able to handle all aspects of life for me and the kids, so that my husband could hit the ground running with his new job. I remember watching grandparents taking their children’s children to school, and wanting to ask them to adopt me and my kids. Please, take us in. Please, be our family. I need an extended family.

I have a family. My own parents have been so amazing, they came out to help me here several times. My in-laws were here to help us unpack at our new house in July. One of my best friends came out with her son to spend Thanksgiving with us, and I got to see two other friends who were in St. John’s in the fall. I remember thinking, during each visit, I should be so grateful for this. I remember how alone I felt whenever I said goodbye.

Goodbyes have been a theme for me lately, and I hate them. They get harder and harder all the time. I want to set fire to goodbyes. I want hellos that last and last.

I was talking to one of my husband’s colleagues recently who told me that, following a series of relocations for work, he once had to make the choice between his job and his marriage. He made the wise decision to give up his job, and keep his marriage. Finding another job was not difficult. Nothing is more important than family, he told me.

I’ve met several other women who have followed their husband’s careers, from places farther than other provinces in Canada — England, Korea, India. One told me recently that, although it’s hard to be away from home and extended family, and to have her husband travelling a lot for work, that at least there’s a culture of that here. Back in England where she was living, she said it was awkward for her kids whose friends’ fathers would pick them up from school, while their own dad was away. Here, the family blends in more, and they still make it work to live sometimes apart, and to just enjoy the time they have together. It’s not that simple, I’m sure, but those are the parameters you have to work with sometimes.

Most of this last year, for me, has been all about newness. Exciting as that is, I’ve craved normality, unsure of what that means, but at the same time, knowing I will find it, given time. Time I haven’t had, given two moves in one year, and three provinces in the last two years. My husband and I recently found a wedge between us that grew out of this relocation. We’re whittling it down. And I think one thing I’m learning about marriage — never before having faced anything that required real effort between us, but this last year, understandably, especially with a new baby who kept us up through the night those first several numbing months of this move — is that when you try to take anything just for yourself, that’s when you are hurtful. I disappeared into my writing, he into his job. We’ve both been able to focus on the kids, but not on each other.

I don’t have any sort of magic formula for relocation. And each move is different, just like each person, as I tell my kids all the time, each of us is unique, like snowflakes. Couples are all unique, too. But I do know that keeping your partner in focus has got to be one of the only ways to survive it all together. We’re taking a trip together, just the two of us, next month, and although I’m a bit nervous to leave the kids for a week (but again, extremely grateful my parents are going to be able to be here with them), I know this trip is like a key to our survival.

There are a couple other things we’re working on now, like finding childcare for the kids so I can look for a job. I’m also trying to get into a writing course at the university. We’re also making dinner dates with other families, and more plans for things to do together as a family, more hiking, short road trips, fun meals together. My husband has been turning off his phone, even for a few hours on the weekends. He’s discovered that when something is really truly important, a person will call. The constant emails are…..very difficult to manage. I respect so much the fact that he has realized that if he doesn’t manage them, they will manage not only him, but his family.

I have to take responsibility for my own happiness, and not wallow in loneliness. I have to reach out in my new community and grab hold of the things that will make life feel more like living, and less like something to just get through. As my one friend said to me recently, no one else is going to do that for me. It’s been a heartbreaking year. But there have been some wonderful things that have happened, too. And if it is all about focus, I will carry all the positivity and everything gained from this experience, into my future. I will hope that anything I’ve thought I’d lost along the way, can be retrieved, built on.

At this point, one year after arriving in St. John’s, I have several emergency contact numbers. And counting. Perhaps I do have something to celebrate, after all.


First impressions of Newfoundland (and seventeen grocery bags of dirty laundry)

March 20, 2011

A view of cliffs overhanging the ocean.

Here’s the top 5 things I’ve learned after living in Newfoundland for two weeks:

1. There’s weather here like I’ve never experienced anywhere else in Canada.

I’ve lived in several Northern Canadian towns, and before now, I thought that anywhere around the Great Lakes in Ontario experienced the wildest snow, wind and rain storms. But the weather in St. John’s is like no other place I’ve ever been. You know the expression, ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes?’ Never more true than here. It comes out of nowhere, a clear, sunny sky, moderate winds turn into gusts around 25-50 kms/hour, and the heaviest – I mean, this stuff weighs a tonne – snow on earth. Last Monday I turned on the radio and heard the words “school closures” but didn’t think they could possibly be talking about St. John’s. Sure enough, my daughter’s fourth day at her new school was canceled. Not a drop of precipitation in the air. I took the kids to a movie. By mid-afternoon, there was a heavy snowfall happening. Still, it didn’t seem that bad. Until the next morning, when my rental van was stuck in the thickest, stickiest slush I’ve ever tried to shovel. Luckily, a kind man from across the street helped to dig me out. Which leads me to #2.

2. Never underestimate the kindness of strangers in Newfoundland.

Seriously, that man didn’t have to help dig me out. Neither did our landlord’s parents have to stock our rental home with some basic essentials, milk, juice, margarine, fresh muffins AND homemade jelly. My gosh, can you imagine anyone in Toronto doing something like that? In that city, the tenants would move in and get a restraining order for the weirdo landlord trying to stalk them. No, people here are genuinely friendly. They even SMILE. Finally, I’m living somewhere, where other people smile even more than I do!

3. Another new experience for me: the English language (I think?) spoken by some Newfoundland natives.

I couldn’t understand a word the man said, but he shoveled that brutally heavy snow out from under my tires, I gave him  my biggest grin and said a million thank-you’s, he mirrored my smiles and gave a high five and away we went! So, despite the fact that you may not understand the Newfoundland dialect, a thank-you and a smile goes a long way.

4. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to hearing the CBC news at the bottom, rather than the top, of the hour.

It seems quite fitting that Newfoundland is a half-hour “off” the rest of the world. This is a place where no one is in a big hurry. Good thing, because with the intersections their forebearers created in this city, if anyone tried blasting around the way they do in other capital cities (picture Montreal, where drivers don’t even adhere to red lights, let alone speed signs), there’d be an accident about every 5 seconds. Yes, everything here is a little “off” and a little slowed down from any other place I’ve ever lived. But in a good way. A delightfully, down-home, endearingly good way.

5. I think I finally realize what “Where ya to?” means. Where ya from. Or maybe it’s, where ya living? Where it is? Where ya going? Something like that. Once I’m more certain, I’ll let ya know.

So we arrived in St. John’s on Friday, March 4 after 17 nights on the road. That was two nights of hotels in Thompson while our house was being packed up; another in Winnipeg; then Thunder Bay; next was Wawa (although we had hoped to make it to Sault Ste. Marie that night, but after fueling up in the town of the giant goose, we were about to pull back onto the highway when the road block was just going up….due to weather. Luckily, we got a great room – a cabin with a fireplace! – and enjoyed an evening together as a family while the snow gusted around us outside). We spent three nights with each of our parents in Southern Ontario. Two with my brother and his family in Montreal. One stopover in New Brunswick before landing in Nova Scotia for the last of our family visits for this trip, with my aunt and uncle and cousins (who greeted us with fresh lobster – welcome to Atlantic Canada, aaahhhh yeah!). One night there turned into two, once we realized there was only one ferry option still available that week.

By that time, my husband was getting very anxious to get to St. John’s, as his assignments were piling up while we were on the road. We hadn’t booked the ferry yet because of all the weather delays. The only tickets available were for the overnight boat. We’d hoped to take the daytime one, to see the view over the ocean; as it turned out, I don’t think we would have seen much anyways, as the weather was foggy all week.

That night, we rocked and rolled across the channel from Sydney, Cape Breton to Channel-Port aux Basques, NL. I can’t even imagine the size of the waves that caused that giant boat to sway so. I lay in my bed in the cabin, worrying that my son would roll out of the top bunk, while trying not to roll on my baby who was sharing a mattress with me.

In the end, we were glad we’d taken the overnight ride, because the next day’s drive would have been deadly had it not been daylight. We drove through Wreckhouse, where winds are known to gust up to 200 kms/hour. They weren’t so strong that day, but it was certainly wild. Every time we crested a hill, the road became more slippery and ice-covered. As we descended into valleys, the trans-Canada seemed to thaw.

Our last night on the road was in Grand Falls. By then, the baggies of dirty laundry were piled in the truck, and we were so excited to empty the vehicle for the last time.

And now, living in a furnished rental, our belongings in storage, it’s a humbling experience of existing without all the things we’ve gathered over five years of home ownership. I have mixed emotions about this old home, more than 100 years of history. I’ve always wanted to live in an old home, but it does come with it’s price. The other day I said to my daughter, it kinda smells like old man armpit in here. She laughed and laughed. I cleaned and cleaned, and finally gave up, listening to the creaks and echoes, hoping to hear the stories these walls could tell.

Perceptions of Time

February 8, 2011

Stress has a way of turning Time into a yo-yo. It speeds up and slows down at intervals, irregular ones that leave your guts in a knot.

Going through a relocation involves a lot of “hurry up and wait,” a term I’ve rarely used since my tree planting days. In this case, hurry up and get your house ready for the market….wait for it to sell. Hurry up and decide where you want to live in the new town or city….wait for the right opportunity to make an offer on a place. Hurry up and say goodbye to your friends…wait for the pain of departure to swell before ebbing in your heart.

While all this waiting is going on, here’s what I’m doing with my time:
Writing in the mornings while my two older children are in school and the baby sleeps. Spending time with friends in the afternoons and some evenings, quality time with my family in between, engaging in long talks with my husband. We’re trying to keep our course and envision what our goals are, so that we don’t become swept away in this relocation. We don’t want to look back and realize we allowed it to be completely out of our control. We see the value in still living, enjoying our time together and with friends, even as we wait.

But there’s something about not being able to visualize any part of your own future that is more terrifying than thrilling. This time around, we are having to leave before our house sells. Before figuring out where we’re going to live when we get there.

So what am I really doing with my time? I’m FREAKING OUT. We have packers booked to come in less than a week. Great, they’ll do all the work for me, of packing my house, and I’m glad for that. But where is all our stuff going to go? Into storage. For how long? WE DON’T KNOW. So, while this would be sorta okay if it was just my husband and I, we’d have our clothes, some gear – snowboards, running shoes, bathing suits – with us. But with three kids, including a baby who is growing out of sleepers on a weekly basis, it’s a little more complicated.

So here we go, we’re planning on packing the truck (thank goodness for the pickup with hard top my husband insists on keeping in his life), and making a two week journey from Thompson, Manitoba to St. John’s Newfoundland. In February. Are you kidding me?

Nope. This is for real.

I’ve booked a few things – hotel here in town for the last night when our beds will be loaded on the moving truck. My son’s last eye appointment to find out if his prescription is still the same. Cancelled the phone. Changed our insurance to the less coverage, higher price that is a consequence of leaving a home vacant and moving away.

Where to have our mail forwarded to is another matter. I know, I know, it’ll have to be a General Delivery address in St. John’s. And I know, I know, we aren’t really going to be homeless in a destitute sort of a way, but we are going to be homeless in a practical sort of a way. And what school will my daughter be able to attend while we’re living out of suitcases in hotels until we find a rental, and wait for our house here to sell?

Ah, the suitcases. In my nightmares last night, our giant suitcase tormented me, opening it’s floppy lid and spilling out random essentials – toothbrushes, baby clothes, toddler clothes, girl clothes, man’s underwear, my pj’s, as well as flashlights, books, papers – that I scrambled to retrieve from behind a worn hotel dresser and off the dusty hotel t.v.

What I’m really doing, is giving myself a pep talk every morning so that I can turn a brave face towards my children as I clean up the cereal they’ve spilled all over the floor. Trying to forget that I woke up my whole family last night rummaging angrily in drawers and cupboards, trying to find the children’s advil and Vicks for my son, who couldn’t sleep because of a stuffed up nose, cursing the fact that I can’t find anything in my own house ever since it’s been ‘tidied’ for showings, and hating the fact that we have to live like this, displaced already before we’ve even left.

I decide every day that I can make this hard on all of us – by complaining about the fact that it’s difficult enough to stay afloat with laundry, meal planning and kids’ activities without also having to pack for a journey of undetermined length. Or easy – feel excited for the adventure of it all. I can’t change how I feel (did I mention I’m FREAKING OUT?!?!), but I am learning to have a little control over the expression of those feelings (except in the middle of the night when all I want to do is snuggle back in bed with my nightmares). I’m learning to use that great gift of Free Will we humans have, to surmount the obstacles before me, choose my own destiny, and all the rest of those magnificent terms we use to describe greatness.

Today’s pep talk: Bins, Carrie. Pack bins. Leave the unmanageable giant suitcase for the packers.

My husband called me this morning to ask how I’m doing ( a little afraid of the answer, after my rampage in the night). We have these conversations frequently these days, and they always end in….giggles (as an aside, though, I should add that it’s not all a laughing matter, and I was relieved last week after talking with some other friends who are also going through upcoming relocations, to discover we all agree that fighting with your spouse seems to be yet another side effect of the inherent stress involved).

So my husband asked how I was doing today, and I couldn’t answer him except to say: “Are we really moving to Newfoundland in February?” As soon as we’d finished laughing at and with each other over the phone, he suddenly had to go. Time sped up while I rushed to rescue the baby from a hungry belly. Time slowed down as the baby fell asleep and I began typing these words. And speeds up again as I look over at my To Do list and wonder, guts in a knot (part excitement, part fear), at our elusive future.

The randomness of relocation preparation

January 20, 2011

In my filing cabinet – my green, four-drawer legal filing cabinet, which I bought when my partner and I lived out west and, much to his chagrin, packed into our suburban when we moved back to Ontario, refusing to leave it behind – is a file of story ideas. There’s also a file of column ideas, from when I was writing my Carrie On column for a community newspaper in Prince George, BC. There’s files for important things, too, like health and banking and receipts I may or may not need to keep for seven or nine or twelve or however many years it is you are now required to keep files for income tax purposes. And a file for maps, insurance, and one for each of my children, containing, I think, their birth registrations, immunization records, mixed in with paintings of their hand and feet prints from random stages of their growth to date.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’m about to relocate for what seems like the billionth time in my adult life. And each time I move, I attempt to clean out some of the excess from my beloved green filing cabinet. Because it becomes more and more full each time I move. And because each time I find myself in this position, I get not a little bit panicky that some of its contents, which I have most likely forgotten about, will be lost in the shuffle. Oh the horror of losing things I didn’t even know I had in the first place.

There is one other prized possession I coddle during the packing stages of my existence, and that is my kitty trunk (not for holding baby cats, no, it’s a square trunk, with a picture of two white kittens repeated on all five visible sides). I’m not even sure at what point in my life it appeared, but it’s always lived in my room, or in my closet, or in a storage area probably under the stairs where it acquires a mustiness as comfortable to inhale as an old pair of slippers are to slip tired feet into.

Inside the kitty trunk are my journals. I’ve always been enamoured by old books, and in my wildest fantasies (where I’ve actually already reached the status of a published author of fiction – never mind that I have yet to complete something that could possibly be published), these journals are discovered by one of my descendants, a child of my children’s children, and published posthumously (what an extravagant word).

For now, I would be appalled at the very idea of anyone reading them. I am in awe of my parents and my husband, who have never expressed even the slightest interest in delving into them (as far as I know). A sign of my own self delusion is that I imagine that others are dying to read my ramblings, when the truth is, those who know me best are already aware of my most embarrassing and hilariously not-so-secret secrets, and they probably would rather cut off a limb than be subjected to the torture of reading my diaries. But these journals are my dearest, oldest friends. So vulnerable – a single match would light them into oblivion in mere minutes.

I’m not a linear kind of a thinker. When I sit down to write, I often start with a writing exercise, a prompt, or questions for the characters I’m writing about. I’ll write a scene, then go over another I wrote in the past. I’ll look through my journals from my own time of life that corresponds with the time of life of a character I’m writing about. I’ll read articles on writing on the internet.

This may seem like a lot of procrastination. But it’s actually a lot like parenting. You start to empty the dishwasher, then get called away to wipe someone’s bum. You put the baby to bed, tumble into sleep yourself only to be woken 45 minutes later. You never did finish emptying the dishwasher. You never do manage to get what was known to you pre-kids as “a full night’s sleep”. But if you did tap away at the keyboard for even 10 minutes in a 24 hour period, pat yourself on the back! You got some writing done.

It’s painful and frustrating, more to the point, schizophrenic, this never-completing-and-always-just-barely-getting-into-a-project, but you make the appropriate adjustments in your life to accommodate your new routines. You have a glass of wine at 5 pm – one glass is all it takes to give the world a slight glow, and stops you from letting your fatigue erupt in fits of anger directed at your family. You lay down for 10 minute power naps, in the middle of the kitchen floor if necessary. Basically, you do whatever you have to do to function in your new life as a parent. The same principals apply for a wanna-be writer.

Oh yeah and then throw a move in there. Ah, a new life. Starting all over again, yet again. More fodder for my writing fire – discombobulated, haphazard, uncertain future and all. I embark on yet another packing mission amidst flying papers. Please, no one light a match.

Ups and downs of being a tag-along

January 19, 2010

The worst part about last year, for me, was the loneliness. I don’t like being faced with a problem that I can’t discuss with others. Our relocation was a very long, drawn-out process, which offered plenty of time to think, with only small bursts of time for action. And during most of that time, there were few people I could talk to about what was going on. And so, while my husband was busy preparing himself for his next career move, I yearned for someone to talk to, and poured my heart out into my journal.

At one point last summer my children and I were visiting my parents, and we attended an event in the quaint township where they live. By this point in the year – nearly six months after it was first presented to us – I believe the wheels of our relocation were finally in motion. My mom introduced me to some people she knew, and I remember feeling dazed, especially being introduced as the daughter who was moving away.

“Only for a few years,” my mom would say. “And then they’ll be back!” At the time, and even now, those comments make me weak in the knees, because if I’ve learned anything after two company relocations, it’s that you never really know what’s going to happen next. You have a certain amount of control – but even that is  very limited. I think that for my husband and I, we have exactly this much control over our relocations: that we open ourselves up to the possibility of moving [on], and that makes it possible. Where and when always seem to be the mystery to us. And so, to say we will be somewhere for any specific length of time, and returning… I just don’t know if that’s true, or just wishful thinking on the parts of our families (any maybe even for us sometimes).

So I was at this event, only half listening to people talking to me, when something said to me caught my attention. It was being said by a woman who was looking at me with the most understanding I had glimpsed since my husband had first mentioned the possibility of the relocation to me.

It turned out that this woman, whose children are now grown, had moved many times with her husband. She had followed him across the country many times – even internationally, I believe – and had finally come back “home” to settle.

What caught my attention wasn’t only that someone was finally speaking to me in a language I could understand – that is to say, in earnest understanding – but also that she was offering me practical advice.

“Are you going to work?” she asked, as many others had asked me over the last several months.

“I’m not sure,” I replied, keeping my answer short in anticipation of what she was about to say.

“I always gave each move six months – to get my family settled – before I started working,” she said.

This statement made a lot of sense to me at the time, and relieved some of the pressure I’d been feeling about the move. I had heard that in the place where we were moving to, that jobs were easy to come by, but childcare was not. I kept changing my mind about what I wanted, and whether I would need to work outside the home or not. In the end, I knew I’d have to wait and see, before making a final decision on looking for work for myself.

The down side to being the tag-along – that is, the spouse who follows the one with the flourishing career – is always having to go through a new job search. I find it’s the biggest challenge for the ego; that is, to remain confident while looking for work. Again. And again. And again. I know I should be proud of my resume, but I always dread opening it up to update it. It’s the chore that always takes five times as long as I think it should to complete.

So now, I find I’m at this next crossroads of my move, and I want to work. It’s funny how certain things stick in your mind, and thankfully, the words of experience that came from a woman that day last summer are coming into focus for me again right now, nearly six months after our move.

Of course, the up side of being the tag-along, is that I can take my time with the decision. The danger is that I’ll get too busy with my kids’ schedules to make my next move, or that I’ll take the easy road, and say that it’s not worth it, I can’t find childcare, it would cost me money to work anyways… But it’s a new year, they days – finally! – are starting to get longer, and so it’s the best time to be optimistic about finding work, and helping to support my family. Because I don’t want to be just a tag-along.

Sling-shot travels

January 4, 2010

Leaving Thompson to go “back home” for the holidays was busy, but not hard. I worried that the slingshot ride from here back to there, would be difficult. Emotionally. And I sensed it happening before the journey even began.

It’s all so overwhelming. The visits, the partying, the travelling to get “back” to see friends and family. And the only worse part about all the commotion – which I really don’t mind, and even my kids are pretty laid back about being taken here there and everywhere – is saying goodbye.

It was so great – even better than expected – to see everyone we were fortunate enough to visit with during this trip “back home.” You see, my expectation was that this was more of a duty than anything else, something we were doing for our families in particular. But I now realize that the journey “back” was for all of us, and I can’t be stoic or brave about the resulting separation that began as we boarded the plane January 2. It hurts like hell to leave again, and it breaks my heart.

It was especially amazing to see the difference in the kids this year compared with last year. My kids, and the cousins on both sides of our family, are all pretty much the same age – my daughter is five, and the eldest boy cousins on my husband’s side and my own are both four-and-a-half. My son will be three in March, and the boy cousin on my side of the family is turning three also, as is the girl cousin on my husband’s side of the family. So, for my kids, whether they are visiting with my parents or my in-laws, they have cousins their own age to play with.

Last year, there was still no taking our eyes off of them, but now, they can be downstairs or in a different room or even outside (for short periods) playing together, while the adults have our visiting or meal preparation time. It’s truly a delight, especially when we catch them in certain acts of play. For example, my son and my brother’s youngest boy were taking turns pushing each other in the baby stroller – a girl’s toy, meant for a doll, but sturdy enough for the almost-three-year-olds to use. They emerged from a hallway doing this, and I was trying to imagine how they decided to do that in the first place, and how it wasn’t a fight over who would push and who would ride first (and I heard in my head their munchkin voices discussing it, not as adults, but with more actions and gestures accompanied by a few words).

At my in-law’s house, the four cousins bounced and giggled like fools on the two beds in a basement room (one twin on a frame, the other on the floor). I walked away, hesitant at first, but then willingly, knowing full well that for me, the worst accidents happen when I’m standing right there (like the two goose-eggs my son gave himself in the course of one month last year – in the same spot on his bruised forehead! Ouch!). Besides, the benefit of having the cousins play happily together is truly awesome (and beneficial when parents have drinks and appies waiting upstairs!).

One day, my daughter, who had previously never paid much attention to her only girl cousin, was leading her around my in-law’s house on all fours playing “kitty” and later, the two of them were sitting side-by-side at the easel, each painting their own picture.

These things may seem small to people who don’t have kids, but to me, they’re huge landmarks in the evolution of the relationships between cousins. I have many cousins, only one with whom I’m very close, and most of them lived several provinces away from me when I was growing up. I always dreamed of having huge family Christmases, and cousins I could be best friends with (because we so often want what we don’t have, now, don’t we!?!). And so, to see that my kids will have this, is incredible.

Of course, while we are living far away, it puts a lot of pressure on my husband and I to “get the cousins together” as the grandparents say. The desire is certainly there, but the holiday time is limited. One reason we do enjoy being far away from family, is that we get to exercise our own independence, our own family values and activities. But we want this closeness for our children and it’s a tough void to cross. The good thing, is that when we do all get together, it’s for sleep-overs, not just the odd meal or afternoon here and there. So, even if it is only once or twice each year, the time together is intense and valuable.

I imagine that all of this is leading up to something like a few years crammed with several weddings, another few years ahead jammed with babies… But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. My own are still babies in the grand scheme of Time, and so much can happen between now, and when they all grow up! Thinking about it (without expectations, of course… Um, no, I have my own wishes for the next generation, despite myself!) is dizzying… I not only get to look forward to seeing what my own children will do in the future, but what their cousins will do and be, as well (as with children of friends, and even friends of friends). The world is a complicated web of lives and interconnections, and its impossible to determine where any one of us will end up!


So for now, I really, truly must relish the time we all had together, and even look forward to my life continuing back in this little town we moved to earlier this year. To get through the long dark winter, and live on the sweet dreams of this Christmas, already past. To make resolutions and work towards goals, or perish. And there’s many small eyes on me, too, to help motivate me to be the best I always can, and be the mom and auntie they all think of with fondness.


November 25, 2009

I’ve heard there’s many stages people go through with a relocation. There’s usually a honeymoon period of six months, after which time it all comes crashing down… And what happens then? You realize you’re in a new reality. You start to think about the place you left behind. You miss people from before like mad.

I’m not sure. I just know that for me, it’s been just over three months. And today, I’m looking around that corner towards the crash. Because it’s true, so far, at least; I feel elated! I love my life here! If that’s not a honeymoon period, I guess you could also call it contentedness. Is that a word? Not sure. I just know, that if history is any indication, I’m due for a crash.

Now I’m not a pessimistic person (my husband would disagree, but he’s the loving and unfortunate person who gets to see the good, bad AND the ugly sides of me!), but I do know that elation only lasts so long. It does come back, but come on, we’re all human! We should never kid ourselves into believing we’re happy now, so we’ll be happy every day into the future!

Never mind. For now, I feel great. And if it’s nothing more than part of a process of this relocation, then so be it. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts, and I’ll write about it so I always remember how great it is to feel this way.

First of all, I feel healthy. I’ve been walking my kids to and from school, pulling them in a sleigh or on the GT snowracer. And I’ve discovered belly dancing! Crazy but true, and you know, it’s one of the best workouts I’ve had in recent years, and I had to move to a remote northern location to discover it.

Second, my kids are thriving here. They each enjoy school, they have nice friends (both easy things in preschool and Kindergarden… I will have to remember these blissful years later on when they’re crying over their arithmetic, like I did as a kid!).

Third, we’re so far removed from everything else – shopping malls, families pulling us in different directions, demands of old friends and trips to visit people far enough away that it’s an effort to get there, but close enough that it would be lazy and stupid to not make that effort to visit.

So I’m going to get back to my novel-writing (I have just over 6,000 words left to go to reach 50,000 by the end of this week! No prob!), and make sure that this happy feeling is accompanied by something concrete, some sort of accomplishment I will have in three more months time to look at and say, if I can do that, I can do anything!