Thursday, August 31, 2006

When you come to the edge...

“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have

And step into the darkness of the unknown,

Believe that one of the two will happen to you

Either you'll find something solid to stand on

Or you'll be taught how to fly!”

Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull)

Friday, August 25, 2006

The cat's outta the bag

This news will hardly affect my blog friends if at all. Did I just write that? Well, you know who you are. Blog friends are from all over the world and the internet has brought us together from Canada (Hey Silent One) to Texas (Hey Greek Chickie) to New York (What’s up, Take Care Michael?) down to the DC area (I see you, Laura), over to Colorado (Hey Girlfriend Pam) back over to LA (Shephard, how are you?) and up to Montana (Leesa my Love) and all over. So where I live doesn’t really matter although I have had to teach you all a few things about Missouri… and you know who you are. St. Louis on the right. Kansas City on the left and Columbia (Home of the University of Missouri) and Jefferson City (the capital you nitwits) is smack dab in the middle. Yes, this state has a boot heel on the right hand corner (southeast) and yes, Sheryl Crow is from this state. But other than that, most of you probably think it’s a little stop between Chicago and Denver or New York and Los Angeles. And we have that funny arch. So, like I said, my news won’t even affect those bloggers who read and comment.

What blogging does, however, is set in stone my plan. The cat’s outta the bag. For all sorts of reasons (listed below), we are moving to Columbia, the college town in the middle of the state, as soon as my husband and I find jobs. Once our youngest (Dorothy) graduated for high school, nothing was really holding us to St. Louis since I’m not from here. (My husband is, but he has no family left here.) We stayed where we did the past 20 years so our kids could get a good education and now it’s time to move on. Yep, that means we are moving to the same town where my girls live. One is teaching there and the other started school there last week. And for all you who are thinking, “The girls aren’t always going to live there. What are you going to do when they move away? Follow them again.” And my answer is, “You don’t think I’ve already thought of that?” We love that college town. Both my husband and I went to school there. I’m actually from the mid-Missouri area and know it’s a slower way of life without the same “opportunities” as the big city. But I no longer have to “run away from home” the way I did when I was young. Dorothy is majoring in technical theatre and has plans to live in New York or LA (Hey, Uncle Shephard) so I have no plans to follow her when she graduates. And Mabel is teaching in Columbia but has dreams of teaching in urban settings (ghetto) and or teaching teachers how to teach in college settings. So no, I don’t plan to follow her to Harlem or Chicago or South LA. But right now, it just feels right to be close to them. I want to be nearby when Dorothy is working on a show at the college. I want to go shopping with Mabel. They are growing up to be fantastic young women who I want to be around all the time. So there.

But mostly, I want my husband to be able to get a job that he loves, that he deserves, that makes him jump out of bed in the morning. The man is the hardest worker in the world with the worst job history. It’s tragic. I have never wanted to move from St. Louis because (a) we were raising children in an excellent school district and (b) I would never move for his job given his job history. (I’d be stuck in – where’s the worst place you can think of - Buttfuck, Idaho.) So now we have opened up the field to Columbia so he can find a job. He’s had a few interviews with no luck so far, but we are hopeful. I started putting out feelers 2 weeks ago and had the most fantastic interview of a lifetime this past Tuesday. It’s my dream job, but I don’t want to think about it too much or I will worry myself silly. That’s all I’m going to say so I don’t jinx it, but there's the possibility that I'll find a job before he does. Luckily, my husband is not above anything and will work anywhere so he is quite willing to “follow.” In the meantime, I also have some applications in with the university. Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer, send positive thoughts, light a novena, burn a witch at the stake, dance around the May pole, sing Hava Nagila. I don’t care what course of action you like to take to appease the gods. Just do it. Because after we find jobs, we have to sell and buy a house, and I think I feel the urge to vomit. (This is the first and only house we’ve lived in. Thank God, I’m not sentimental about the place. Just anxious about the housing market. (Send good vibes, Silent One!) Where we live, they just may knock the house down to build another which would be fine with me. Just buy my house.

I can hardly wait to have a smaller mortgage. Be able to afford to go to Broadway musicals (Rent and Aida are coming to Mizzou!). Live in a slower pace, a more diverse area. Get more involved in politics (near the capital and the campus). Be able to see at the drop of a hat the plays/musicals my daughter works on and giggle while shopping with my other daughter. I’m ready for this change. Everything is pointing towards it. I will miss my sisters who live here, but they understand why I’m doing this.

And back on the farm, I told my boss. As you know, I’ve hated my job because of “creepy man,” but I love my boss. I wanted to give him more than a 2-week’s notice because they were starting to give me a lot of responsibility on grant writing, and I just didn’t want to leave him high and dry. He couldn’t be more pleased for me. He’s a psychologist who loves mid-life revelations (doesn’t call them crises) and thinks this will really shake things up. If he only knew! My last day here will be September 29th so I had better hear back from one of these places soon or I’m going to have an anxiety attack that no drug can conquer! Then there is time for a little trip. A little vacation that I can’t talk about just yet.

Now all that said, moving away from the place I’ve lived in for 27 years will be the hardest thing I have ever done. Well, not actually. Leaving my friends will be. I have the most amazing friends (and you know who you are), and it will pain me to the bottom of my soul to leave. But Columbia is just 2 hours away, and that’s what highways and cars and overpriced gas are for. We will be back for church social events and Thanksgiving (Turkey Day game) and Christmas (Yah, ornament fights) so never fear. We will be back. Now we’ll just be staying with friends when we do.

Wow, I don’t blog often, but when I do, I write a lot. Maybe too much. Hope I haven’t put you to sleep. I’m in for an exciting adventure. Wanna come along, bloggily speaking?

An “empty nest” update. Dorothy is having the time of her life at college. Happier than I have ever seen her. She was made for college. Mabel is trying to catch up from hitting the ground running and lamented the other day, “Dorothy is having so much fun. She will never need me.” Get over it Big Sis. She also added, “Damn, she’s having a ball, and she hasn’t even been drunk yet.” Ahhh, that’s a sorority girl for you.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Empty Nest

Since I'm probably one of the oldest of the bloggy group out there, I shall explain the phenomenon called "empty nest." For 22 years... 22 and a half years, I have had 1 or 2 children in this house, changed diapers, sucked snot out of baby noses (I didn't want you to think I was still doing this), driven all over town for lessons, birthday parties, practices, rehearsals, watched productions and lacrosse games, cheered on a runner, shopped for prom dresses, watch ear get pierced on 12th birthdays, help study for tests, read book after book even after you stop reading to kids, shopped and packed for mission trips, and shed a thousand tears and smiled a million smiles.

For someone who never ever ever wanted to be a mother, that is all I have known for over 22 years. And I know that it doesn't end on Sunday when I drop Dorothy (Daughter #2) off at college, but I will be returning to an empty nest. Well, it's not like the above list of activities included sitting quietly and faithfully upon a nest. It's been an action film, full of drama and laughter, fears and pain, joys and pride, excitement and anger and everything in between. It's not like this kid or the other one went to college very far away. It's only 2 hours down the highway. But we all know the empty nest is more about heartstrings than it is about miles. It's about walking the walk and talking the talk of the old adage that the best 2 gifts we give our children are roots and wings. Well, this weekend it's the wings. This daughter is different than Mabel, daughter #1. I have often joked that God sends you the firstborn and it lulls you into complacency so that you have another one. And if my 2nd born had been my firstborn, she would have been my only born. They are just two totally different children.

First, Mabel packed for weeks in preparation for her departure, and when she wasn't packing, I later found out that she was making a scrapbook for me to thank us for everything we had done for her and that she was ready because of how we raised her. (Dorothy, going into 9th grade at the time, already "warned" us, "Yah, don't expect that from me. It will never happen.") When we dropped off Mabel, we giggled because we didn't find the elevator till after the Dad carted everything up 3 flights of stairs. Shhhh, he still doesn't know it was right across the hall from Mabel's room. We didn't even cry on the way home because that kid is so well adjusted, so ready for the world, so level headed, so strong. We knew this was the right place and that she could take on the world.

Dorothy started packing today... I think. I'm still not allowed in her room. I think I actually saw floor the other day after threatening "If you don't clean it up, I'm taking it to Goodwill." She hasn't worn her retainer since she got her braces off, sleeps in her clothes and contacts, hasn't read the book that everyone on campus is supposed to read as a group, and there is no evidence that she has reneged on her promise not to make me a scrapbook of thanks. She has, however, gotten onto Facebook to "meet" everyone in her dorm, in her major, who worked with her this summer, who reads romance novels, loves Rent, hates Bush. That was a number one priority for her. She does not have a sentimental bone in her body. She is not good at decision making (or is just that my perception?). Although horribly needy for people's approval, she often does things or says things that we want to see or hear just to get us off her back. She is fiercely independent and tough, distant and witty, bright and lazy, undisciplined and yet focused. She is me. Or rather me at that age. And my mother had very much to worry about, but she was too stoned to know the difference. I am not. I know too much, feel too much, worry too much. Will she make good decisions? Will she let people use her? Will she try to please too many people and lose herself? Will she start skipping classes because she doesn't wake up to her alarm? Will she will she will she? Will the questions never end?

So we will drop her off Sunday morning at the dorm where she (I) enrolled (her) in a leadership seminar so we could move her in "early" as opposed to moving Mabel and then driving back Wednesday to move Dorothy. She has a week to get into trouble before classes start. Stop it, Mother. She will be fine. I was fine. But I know what I did and what I went through to get where I am today? But am I who I am because of the pitfalls. Did I grow because of the mistakes? Did my mother's negligence make me who I am today? Do I need to start taking drugs to forget the pain and worry of my empty nest? It helped my mother!

And then there's Dorothy. She is an adult. Sure, she is only moving 2 hours away to the same city she went to college in, the same city as Daughter #2, but she no longer needs to come home when they close the dorm. She doesn't have to come home for dad to do her laundry. When she does come home for the holidays, it won't be for 2 or 3 or 4 weeks. It will be for the few days of that holiday and then it's back to work. She does not write letters, nor does she want me to write her as she didn't when she was at college because she doesn't have time to read them. Dorothy, on the other hand, is my reader and will at least appreciate having a letter writer for a mother. We will probably spend Sunday afternoon helping her straighten up her apartment since she will have just gotten back from her summer in Maine and teacher meetings start Monday. We all know she will be on a freak out, her term for "get the fuck outta my way." We will try to help her while getting the fuck out of her way. It's an artform I have perfected over the decades. The decades of being a mother.

That gentle, consistent, persistent nudging that promises I'll always be there while backing out of the room. Please think of me this weekend. It won't be easy, but then they never said it would be.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Happy Birthday to ME!