A lot has happened since my last post, a lot of exhausting things. I’ve learned something. Just because something is exhausting, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad thing. When friends ask about my new job, one of the first things that comes up is the “Stress Level.” Is this position less stress? Is it easier? Do I enjoy it more? No, No, and Yes.
There is still a great deal of stress, but stress isn’t always bad. Most things in life that engage us, are interesting, things we don’t get bored doing, involve a certain level of stress. As human beings, we crave challenge. We like competition. Even if we don’t take the time to stop and think about it, we all have the capacity to get bored with the routine, mundane things in our lives. Yet…we complain and drag our feet at the very things in life that jolt us out of the mundane routines that surround us. We watch sports, because we don’t know how the game will turn out. We enjoy novels with twists and turns. We even enjoy watching zombies munch on good people who are just trying to recreate society! (Yep, I’m a “Walking Dead” devotee.) All of these diversions are safe. We feel the rush, but we don’t have to live the rush. I’m living it now, baby! It’s stressful. It’s exhausting, and I’ve never been so proud of my life.
So much has happened. Tonight at dinner, Lola looked out the window and exclaimed, “I thought that it was after 8:00, but it’s only 6:30!” We discussed how early the sun is going down now. Soon it will be the holiday season. November is almost here. Where has the summer gone? T and I looked at each other. My God! What a summer! It was stressful and exhausting almost beyond comprehension. So many things have changed. So many months were spent apart or traveling from one home to the next, never really feeling like we belonged anywhere at all. I woke up many nights last summer not knowing where I was sleeping or who, if anyone, was in the house with me. Sometimes, I really was alone. Sometimes, it was T who was alone. Rarely were we together under the same roof. It was an uneasy and disturbing middle of the night feeling.
Our marriage suffered tremendous strain. For a time, I think we both preferred our “own” homes where we lived apart. It was the time we spent together that felt odd and strained. Eventually, even the phone contact dwindled to practically nothing.
We’re learning (slowly) to live together again. It’s hard to explain, but it feels like we are no longer the same two people who six months ago embarked on this journey of change. I’m not sure if either of us believed back then that we’d end up in the same place together, but here we are. We’re together again.
Both houses are sold. My parents’ home closed a few weeks ago, and our family home will close tomorrow. Last weekend was the first time in months that we didn’t travel back and forth packing, sorting, and cleaning. The house is empty now, and there are 173 boxes here in the basement of the new house waiting to be unpacked. They can just keep on waiting for a while, because I’m worn out! We’re living sparingly and enjoying it. We’ve come to realize that many of the “things” we thought of as essential aren’t, and never were, a necessary part of our lives. Eventually, we’ll go through all of the boxes. Much of what the movers delivered to us will be pitched, sold, or given away. We’re tired of things.
Change. Wow. Change isn’t easy. No matter how carefully we plan, we lose things during change. Even a good change has an element of loss. I don’t think we have even begun to scratch the surface of the things we have lost to this major change in our lives. I will say this, though. The things we have lost are not all things that we wanted to KEEP. We have left behind things we didn’t want, memories of difficult times, jobs that were no longer satisfying, and friendships that had grown tired. We have also lost things that were dear and precious to us. Our family home will now belong to another family. We’ll never be able to walk into those rooms and summon up exact pictures and memories. Some friends and former co-workers couldn’t accept our changes, and they have grown distant. Maybe they will become memories of our past life, too.
One of the biggest changes has been in T. He did get the new job that somehow fell into his lap. Here, he has a new career that excites him. He is happy! Some days, he talks so much that the girls and I roll our eyes. T…of all people…TALKING too much. That’s always been my role.
The last time we were home (our old home) I stood in the mud room watching as T walked across the back yard. I had stood in that same spot watching T so many times over the years. He is older now. So am I. I watched him, and I remembered a younger man. I was shocked, too. I remembered the sadness I had felt at times in the past as I had watched him walk that same path across the back yard. He had carried a burden for years that no longer weighs him down. I only recognized it once it was no longer there. He had been sad. The burden he had carried was the weight of a life that had not made him very happy. He had a wife, four kids, a mortgage, and a job that didn’t excite him. The financial responsibilities must have overwhelmed him at times. For over twenty five years, T carried that burden often working six days a week, and working again at home on something, there was always something, on the weekends. For the first time in years, T isn’t carrying that burden. He often tells me how happy he is to be here. “I love it here. I really do!” he says it with surprise in his voice, and that’s a good thing to hear.
We’re still in the thick of this change. We’re six months into a one-year lease. Very soon, we’ll have to make a decision about whether we should stay here or should we purchase another home. Our boxes may just stay packed until that decision is made.
Right now, though, this is home. I feel safe and secure, warm and loved. I’m exhausted, but I’m not bored. I miss so many things. Often, the many memories of the past cause me to pause for a moment or two. The best of those memories, I carry in my heart. I’m happy to put some distance between myself and the not so good memories.
The girls are happy here, and they’re adjusting beautifully to the change. T is happy. We’re making new friends. We’re closer to our sons. T and I drove into Chicago yesterday to have a leisurely lunch with Andrew. We have plans in a couple of weeks to take in a Marquette basketball game with Luke.
I’ve been around the block a time or two. I know that nothing is certain in this life but uncertainty. Change is constant, whether it’s welcomed or not. Hard times will come again. They always do. That’s life. What I am doing now is gaining the strength and stability to face whatever lies ahead. I’m soaking in the good moments instead of just enduring each day as a chore. I’m not just growing old and waiting to die. I’m living again, and it feels good to be alive!