9 June 2021
It’s a very write-y day; it started out thick and dense this morning…we nearly swam over here to the house from TLF. One of the loaders (Eric) said he thought it was 98% humidity. He was joking, but I checked, and it was 76%, so he wasn’t far off. He laughed when I looked it up…
It feels like one of those surreal moments…probably mostly because I did not sleep well last night. Whenever this happens, the next day is foggy like a dream. So although I can see a grackle across the way at the top of a tree and watch the movers swarm like ants, wrapping our belongings in blankets and tape, it all just seems like playacting. It seems, truth be told, like that Happy Family dollhouse Keira used to have…where you could pick up the furniture and move it where you pleased. Dogbed here, reading chair there – hearth against the wall and pizza in the oven. Except right now, someone’s gotten bored with how things were arranged and decided to turn the house on its side and dump everything out onto the floor. There goes the wine rack we bought in 2002; Nathan spins it about in his hands as he walks it up the plank to the truck. Where will that go in our new dollhouse? Does it really matter?
Brian said earlier today that this is our twelfth move. This may be correct…twelve since he joined the military. However, both of us moved plenty of times before adulthood, too…so…is it twelve? Or is it much more than that?
So many milspouses I know have experienced what they deem “horrible” moves: furniture damaged, destroyed, or lost altogether. To be honest, we’ve never really had one of those. We’ve done this so many times, in fact, that it’s become quite meaningless. All of those things are just things. They do not bleed if scratched. They do not literally bruise. They feel no pain. The things that do bleed, bruise, and feel pain we hold too close for the packers and movers to touch. Everything else is, ultimately, irrelevant. Perhaps that’s why our moves have never been “horrible.” You have to care deeply for something to bother you…
No, what makes a move “horrible” to me is not the things. It’s the inconvenience and wasted time. Our only truly horrible move was coming here to Minot from Madrid. I described this to our driver earlier today. Our goods arrived in five waves over the course of three months – the very last delivery was the one that contained all of the furniture hardware, so during those months, we could not actually use the unassembled kitchen table, dining table, beds, desks, chairs…and the list goes on. We were compelled to purchase a new folding table (and chairs) and rent a sofa and loveseat in the interim. Our washer/dryer did not arrive until a month after we moved in either, so we rented those from downtown as well. If we hadn’t, it would’ve been upwards of four months of doing our laundry in laundromats or family members’ homes. Can you imagine how this worked in Madrid? I piled laundry from all four of us into the largest of our suitcases, the one big enough to stow a crouching full-grown man. The kids and I would haul that one plus two others down from our hotel room, and the wheels of those monstrosities clattered like thunder through the city streets, reverberating off the buildings right and left, each break in the sidewalk giving rhythm to our storm. It was embarrassing. Not just the noise, but the bulk of laundry, too – hauling it all out of the suitcases into three gigantic coin-operated machines while I felt the eyes of those waiting for dryers press upon the back of my neck. I realize others do these things daily; I recognize that I should not complain. So, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean these things don’t happen. They do, and they’re difficult at times. We just do the things to continue placing one foot in front of the other. But the inconveniences of that particular move were like sandpaper on sensitive skin...
Why? Why do we do it?
Let me put it this way: it’s easy to know why Brian does it. Brian does it because he loves what he does, and this is all part of that bigger picture. He’s a big-picture person to his core.
The real question is why do I do it?
That question is harder to answer. That question desperately warrants reflection.
For sure, I do it partly because I love Brian and this is his choice. But love – you know, love wouldn’t necessarily be enough. Wouldn’t we all enjoy pretending that it would be? How fairy-tale, no? While I do believe in magic, and while there are many aspects of my marriage and my love that are quite fairy-tale-esque, there most definitely needs to be more than love as a motivator for such a silly, complex lifestyle.
The good news is that I can see Brian’s vision; his big-picture motivation is not altogether lost on me…and so that must be acknowledged.
But the truth is, at this point, my own motivation (distinct from his) is becoming more difficult to muster. Motivation to move to Madrid was high because of the adventure factor. We were also unattached to our situation in DC at the time, so Madrid was a welcome opportunity.
Today my motivation to move is slight, indeed. I’ve written all of this elsewhere, so I won’t bother to do it again here, but suffice it to say that Minot has been good to our family (me, in particular), and Albuquerque's unknowns have little draw for me; the promise of excellent Mexican food and a thrumming art community are not insignificant, but they would not be enough. This is why my heart is weepy, bruisy, and torn.
Today – this moment – aside, our lifestyle has its own magic at times in the shape of change, rebirth, and renewal. Not particularly attached to your current situation? Don’t fret, it won’t last long anyway. When you PCS again, you can start fresh. Who am I…? The question is really, who do I want to be?
In the past, I’ve been an assistant manager at a Children’s Science Center (and author of the Science Pages in the local newspaper), a Marketing Coordinator for the local chapter of the Red Cross, an administrative assistant to an ophthalmologist, a master’s student at the University of South Dakota, then a new mom…then a master’s student at National University, a church choir treasurer, a triathlete who’s completed multiple half-Ironmen, a roving virtual employee at SMARTHINKING.com (tutoring English composition), a half-marathoner and marathoner, an adjunct English instructor at Northern Virginia Community College, a vacation bible school counselor, a swim coach, a kindergarten and first-grade room mom, a soccer coach, a library aide, President of the B-1 Store, President of the Dyess Spouses’ Club, and now an adjunct English instructor at Minot State University. Did I forget to breathe?
There is very little “theme” to be found here, other than English. The only continuity is that there is no continuity. The only constant in my life is that nothing is constant – everything always changes, and that includes me. Constant renewal, constant rebirth. There is something glamorous in that. There is something hopeful in that. There is something almost fun and exciting in that, too.
There is even something rather utilitarian in that. For example, if you don’t have many friends, you simply have to wait until the next duty station; there, you may have new opportunities. Alternatively, if there are people who are a thorn in your side – the same philosophy applies. Anything is bearable because everything is temporary. How very flow state, no?
The additional upside to this flow state is a perpetual pull to appreciate each and every moment in that moment as it is, without wishing it were other than what it is. This means to “bloom where you’re planted” and seek your own chosen opportunities. To – here’s a fun mixed-metaphor – to take life by the horns and the bull by the balls, staring down danger and insecurity to accomplish your goals and manifest your own magic.
What makes this particular moment difficult – and this would be the same for any move – is that this, right now, is the moment where the unknown overshadows the known. It grows and grows like some dark creature of the night, and it looms over and about us. Without having seen the town, the kids’ new school, the new house, without having a clear vision for my own career progression, there is yet no small flame to dispel this shadow. We know that there is no small flame; there are, in fact, various large flames that will dispel this shadow – but they are not yet lit. Knowledge that illumination is imminent is helpful; it gives us hope, but it is not this moment. This moment is…uncertainty.
So, why do I do it?
Love of life.
Hot damn, I love this life!
Perhaps I was built to thrive in this tenuous space – it is quite exciting, don’t you think?
Today’s clouds are the spreading kind. From directly below, they appear to expand from shapeless gauze out into wispy whiptails.
Do you ever hear a song you know within the drone of an engine? That’s a strange thing to say, but I mean it quite literally. For example, right now, the moving truck’s engine is running (or perhaps it is a generator) so that the cabin’s air conditioner can function; the driver is within his cab watching TV with his sweet but yappy dear head chihuahua, Bruiser. Anyhoo, it must be partly my imagination, but the hum of that motor carries a song – and that song, right now, is “Runaway” by AURORA. It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this phenomenon, either…it happens sometimes when I receive just the right angle and tone from my noise machine as I lay down to sleep at night. Never the same song twice. It must be a song’s overarching tonal vibration matches the tonal vibration of whatever engine…and from there, my imagination fills in the missing pieces and parts of the melody. There must be some explanation for this phenomenon; I’m certainly not dreaming it. It’s real.