Moving On


I’m not quite sure how to begin this one. Everything is fine enough but there’s been something kicking around my head for a while and I need to write it out.

As I have mentioned several times before, my mother passed away in June 2016. It’s now six months since her funeral. Six months. A lot has happened in those six months and a great deal of it has been in the vein of moving on. Grief is a strange thing. I find myself effected by it in ways which have surprised me. Grief is not simply sadness or missing someone. It’s much more complex and confusing, at times. Grief permeates one’s life like a stench you can’t shake. Think Pigpen in the Charlie Brown comic. It touches parts of oneself that you maybe wouldn’t expect.

You might expect to feel depressed or intensely sad coupled with a pronounced sense of loss after someone you love passes. Oddly, I haven’t experienced that to the degree I thought I might. However, I wasn’t expecting to feel short tempered, anxious and lethargic. I didn’t expect my feelings to effect my job. I find I can’t multi task as well as before. I get very irritated by the constant interruptions which are ever-present in my position. I can’t take on anything new or learn a new job position right now because my brain can’t fit it in. I realized a few months ago that I hadn’t balanced my checkbook in about 6 months! I did not expect to fall into a pattern of maintaining vs.thriving. My creativity has been lacking and it has been a struggle to find my spark. The things I’ve written felt over the past months feel incredibly cringe-worthy and inarticulate, which I’ve absolutely hated. I’ve deleted a bunch of my past posts for this reason. My mind has struggled with a grey fog and my go-to coping mechanism has been distraction. I can’t face what’s in my head and I can’t articulate it, therefore….YouTube! It has felt like nothing in my world is playing by the rules anymore and I don’t fancy the unpredictability! I used to feel like I knew things about things. Now, I realize I know very little about very little.

My dad seems to be taking things in stride, as one would hope, given the loss of a spouse. My dad has busied himself with the task of moving into a condo. The ups and downs of house hunting, house showings, getting a buyer, losing that buyer, getting another buyer and finally closing the deal have been well documented in emails my sister and I receive.  After two months of juggling, my dad is finally scheduled to move in a few weeks. My dad has also gone back to his volunteer work with the local sheriff’s department and has worked many shifts that he’s required. On the outside, things look very normal and “business as usual”.

My dad is a novel, wrapped in a black dust jacket with no prologue. He gives away very little, apart from seemingly random nuggets, dropped with purpose, to see if we’re paying attention. So here’s a few unanswered questions I have for my father: How do you get to know someone who has spent a lifetime playing their cards close to their chest? Why is being a bloody mystery to one’s family so appealing? What is wrong with straight forward communication for a change? Is there some strange need for folks to pursue you to show they care? My parents waltzed this maddening dance for almost 45 years. I am now understanding mom’s frustration with needing to be a “mind reader” (her words, said often). Who knew that in death I’d find common ground with my mother?

I painted a house warming gift for my dad. He is a train enthusiast and I wanted to paint a train trestle winding across a lush, green, mountainous expanse. True to form, my idea took a sharp turn into the ocean. Literally. I ended up painting a panoramic view of the ocean. Initially I intended for it to be a sunset. I ended up with was a cold, tumultuous seascape instead. You can almost feel the chill if you look at this painting long enough. As with anything I’ve painted, my internal emotions influence my work. Everything I’ve written above would explain why my painting turned out as it did so there’s no need to reiterate the obvious.

Moving on after a loss can difficult for an individual. Sometimes watching someone else move on faster is even more difficult. I don’t want my dad to be depressed and alone but I am not ready to see my dad dating. I don’t feel ready for my future at this point but I have little choice in the matter. All the famous quotes about time flood my mind. “Time stands still for no man” springs to mind as does that depressing Tracy Lawrence song song. God help me, I’m referencing country music!! Seems like a good time to end this post.

Being the Adult.

When twenty years old and pregnant, I would often think ahead to the day my oldest would be twenty years old and I would be forty years old. That day arrived in February 2016. I have spent so much time looking towards the future and mentally marking this point in time. Shortsightedly, I never thought much past what would happen once I was older than forty. It never occurred to me to try and picture my kids grown and living elsewhere. I don’t have a clear picture of what I look like as an older person. Better than that, I don’t know who I want to be as an older person!

Well, I am now one year past forty years of age and I am feeling very, very lost.

I am a planner by nature and this trait goes hand in hand with my anxiety. I get very uneasy when I do not know what is ahead. This applies to anything I do, even work. If I go on a trip, I need to know where I am, where I’m going and I need someone else helping me navigate. Despite all this assistance, I have a nasty habit of getting lost whenever I’m in new surroundings. Traveling is extremely stressful and my propensity to get lost makes me more anxious about venturing too far from my comfort zone. I actually am adventurous. I can be very adventurous, but only if I feel safe enough and can find my way back home.

The first family trip we ever took was to Mexico where I would be meeting my in-laws for the first time.  There was also a quinceanera happening at the same time which involved meeting loads more family, most of whom I could not identify now. It was June of 1998. You haven’t lived until you’ve driven frantically around Juarez, Mexico, lost, with your 6 month old and 18 month old at night, during a rain storm, trying to find the bloody U.S./Mexico border. Juarez, Mexico is already a dodgy place on a good day. Also, Juarez doesn’t feel the need to light street signs or streets for that matter, thus making navigation more difficult. Needless to say, I was frazzled by the time we made it back across to El Paso. We headed out the next day, riding the bus instead. A long bus journey and a scary twenty minute taxi ride later, we arrived at my sister-in-law’s house where I met my husband’s family for the first time.

Back to present day.  We (as a family) are facing a lot of changes in the nearer future. My boys have not left home yet (it’s expensive out there folks) but they are now young adults. I am at a stage in life where I can finally start pursuing those things which have simmered on the back burner the past 20 years. In the pursuit of new things all around, we’ve outgrown the small town where we currently live (population around 7250). Our next step is planning where to move. Arizona is an odd place in that it has a huge land area (113,998² mi) but is sparsely populated in many areas. The major cities are Flagstaff, Prescott/Prescott Valley, Phoenix (and surrounding areas) and Tucson. Phoenix is closely hugged by a bunch of smaller cities which make up “the valley” and they all run together, making for a hugely populated, sprawling expanse. It’s not Los Angeles-big, but it’s still quite large. Housing in Arizona is expensive and finding something that will work, within our price range is another challenge.

There is a lot to consider when planning a move. Once you have a family, nothing is every just about yourself anymore. At least it shouldn’t be, ya selfish bastard. What annoyed me when I talked with that therapist I no longer see is, she kept encouraging me to make decisions as if I was the only person affected by these life’s choices. Her advice was essentially, “Do what you want! Move where you want to be! It’s time to start thinking for yourself!” That advice is all fine and dandy if one is single. Or if you don’t mind finding yourself suddenly single. I like my family around and I’m not willing to toss them aside for my convenience. I’m not that big of an asshole. I also don’t want them to be jobless and homeless because of a bad decision I made. It’s times like these where I wouldn’t mind a wiser, more “with it” individual could show me the way. Sadly, I am the adult here now,  whether I like the title or feel it should be bestowed upon me. As a kid, I used to think the adults had their shit together but now I understand, with astounding clarity, everyone is just winging it for the most part.

I have often thought of moving out of the country and living somewhere far away. I’ve even looked into what it would take to move my three dogs to another country (I’m not leaving without my fur children). I’ve dreamed of picking up and starting over in a completely different and unfamiliar city outside of the US. Why does this seem more appealing that moving somewhere inside this massive country of mine? I don’t know. I haven’t the foggiest. Perhaps my imaginings are not tainted with the reality of crime, housing costs and job seeking struggles. I know the metaphorical grass might not be greener outside of this country but I know I crave a big change. This all or nothing personality of mine does me no favors when it comes to practical decision making but eventually, I’ll figure it out. The every unwilling adult that I am…..