T-1.5 days ‘til the first batch of us depart on our grand South African adventure m’peeps. It’s actually, finally happening.
So many thoughts and feelings abound! I am most grateful for my daily runs through the woods that have enabled me to connect with myself and my thoughts every day during this unsettled and emotional time. The more I do that the more I realise how imperative it is…to have some time with yourself, your thoughts, your higher power and nature every day to stay in balance, I can’t believe how many days I have existed on this earth without doing that.
Warning: plethora of rubbish quality randomly selected iphone photos ahead. Also, not sure why but Blogger has gone back to the old way of doing things where it compresses everything to tininess so that makes it even worse. Let’s give this blog post an E for Effort under duress, even if it doesn’t earn an A for Artistry shall we? Bygones…
Here are some of the thoughts I’ve been having during my meetings with my mind in the woods. (The rest of the time I am packing and unpacking suitcases in my mind and occasionally in real life too..)
After 38 years (or close to it) of using worry as form of insurance against calamity I’m finally ready to abandon that ridiculous notion. In the immortal words of Jason Mraz, I won’t worry (any more) of my life away. Of course when you have been doing just that for 38 odd years its a pretty ingrained habit, one which I am apt to return several times a day, but the emotional attachment to doing so has been broken and I’m ready to cut it loose so when I remind myself that I’m not going to do this anymore, my self listens and that is so awesome. I don’t have control over anything really and that’s ok.
I gauge Fall’s progress by this tree. I have no control over it, but I enjoy watching it.
The future for us is a big unknown. We don’t know how long we’ll be in South Africa, Aaron still doesn’t have a job and we are unwilling to be separated indefinitely so it may just be a few months. As I’ve mentioned before, this is making the leaving part a whole lot less traumatic and dramatic than if we were certain of permanency. I have determined that I will take each day in South Africa for what it is and enjoy it as much as possible, live in the moment rather than dissolving it by obsessing about the future and needing to know with a surety what that will look like. This is a huge shift in mindset for me. Like…pretty much the antithesis of the way I generally function.
We’ve had various farewell gatherings and ceremonies over the last few weeks and the recognition of how good we have it here, in terms of a supportive and loving community and a generally idyllic white picket lifestyle has really been reinforced. Our kids lead pretty charmed lives here, and whenever I start spiraling into a panic about taking them away from the familiar and comfortable, Aaron reminds me of what a blessing it can be to get out of one’s comfort zone, of how lucky they are to be able to experience another culture, how their frame of reference and point of view will forever be broadened and most importantly how they will finally be able to experience having extended family in a day to day setting. Not to mention skipping at least one brutal Ohioan winter. That Aaron is a rock and a gem, I tell you. Wait a gem is a rock isn’t it? Moving along..
And yet it’s still so hard. We have some beautiful friendships and we are leaving at my most favourite time of year. All the kids are happy and successful in all of their current endeavours. Nobody is dealing with any major issues right now. Ohio has pulled all the stops this Fall and it has been spectacularly beautiful and gorgeously temperate for the most part. Last weekend was particularly glorious as friends from near and far gathered to wish us well on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday night we walked across the alley and the park as we have so many other times… laden with bowls to share an evening at the beautiful Blacks house. My children’s literal home away from home. Site of endless “late overs,” sleep overs and frantic mini-van pick ups and drop offs. So many hours spent standing watching kids playing in the park, listening to kids playing various instruments, laughing, eating, solving problems of the world..
Boyz of the hood…and some girls. Sigh me and my big mouth….
On Sunday my friend Sandy put on an epic spread of South African and Ohioan cuisine for 7o people, hung South African flags and even created South African jeopardy. Friends contributed photos for a slide show and we laughed and got verklempt as captured moments from the last decade reminded us of how lucky we have been.
It was so amazing to see so many of my favourite people in one place. If I could gather all the wisdom, grace, generosity, talent and kindness of the people in that house on that day, I think I could power the world on sheer positive energy for at least a week. And that was just from those who could make it. There are so many more people I love and appreciate, who have altered my life forever in a positive way, who sadly could not attend..but that’s ok because I have them in my heart.
Monday night we stayed out in the weirdly wonderful balmy weather until long after dark in shirt sleeves on the soccer field as Finny’s team played one last scrimmage and presented him with not one but two MAN U jerseys (one of them personalized with “FINNY” on the back) and various rowdy tributes and pep talks.
Tuesday was Gracie’s last game with a team that has been a sisterhood to her for many years before she had a sister by blood.
Benj and Gabe’s soccer team reached the district finals this year and both of them had the season of their lives and have developed heartwarming friendships with their teammates and a coach who came to the farewell (pictured with his daughter who has been Finny’s friend for all the years) bearing a beautiful bound copy of The Odyssey.
I found the above pic of Benj on google looking for something else entirely. Isn’t that cool? He’s famous! That’s him with his decade long bro Keller. They call themselves the “Stormin Mormons”.
This week Ella went to the pumpkin patch with her preschool, just as Gabe, Gracie and Finny before her did. Tomorrow she will say goodbye to “Muss Cindi” and empty out her little cubby and happy school routine to which she is already so attached and that is unfathomable. Do you see why the impermanence of this scheme is a huge key to my coping strategy?!
Last night we had Trunk or Treating at our church where 2 of our babies were blessed and four were baptised. I watched as my kids danced with friends, primary teachers and bishops and said goodbye to people who have brought casseroles and planted gardens, who have laughed and cried with us and watched our children grow from babies into young adults.
Tomorrow night will gather at the Richardsons for our traditional pre-Trick or Treating pizza party, the glittering event which kicks off the Holiday Season At the Richardsons series which I love so much. We will traipse with cold noses and freezing hands through crunchy leaves around the Norman Rockwell-esque neighbourhood with our cute little girl reminding her to say “thank you”, smiling at other exhausted and proud parents, waving at Finny’s posse occasionally as they streak by shrieking at each other to “wait for me” .
And on Saturday we will drive away from Bowling Green….for a few months or possibly forever. But I just can’t go there in my mind. It won’t compute right now. Maybe if I was leaving with the whole family it would be easier to imagine but even then. We have created a family here and we have lived here for longer than we have lived anywhere. This house has been the longest home base I’ve ever had.
Our house…in the middle of our street.
When we moved to Bowling Green on November 1st 2003, I swore to Aaron that I would be out before the next Winter. On November 1st, 2014, I will make good on that promise and but it won’t be with the “so long suckers” glee I imagined 11 years ago. When we moved in here from beautiful Napa Valley 11 years ago, I remember waving goodbye to my children from the ice encrusted front door, my soul shrinking in despair. My neighbour at the time yelled over to me in cheerful commiseration “isn’t this awful? Why do we live here?!” I smiled grimly but I remember thinking, “Well some of us didn’t know better and will be out of here VERY SOON unlike you, clearly crazy person”.
And then 11 years of memories and friendships and kindness and support and traditions and glorious Autumns and pretty Springs, and long firefly studded Summer evenings and chaotic hot chocolate laced snow days happened and I understood.
Thank you for having us, Bowling Green Ohio. You suck at Winter but you are home to some of the world’s best people and a big piece of our hearts.