Posted in adventure, happiness, Learning, Life, mindfulness, Musings, People

Wherever you go, there you are.

It is 5:30 in the morning, and pitch black outside. Giant gusts of wind roll in off the Atlantic, just across the street, and howl fitfully against the windows and walls of this hundred year old building, shaking the floors. Inside, with the heater blasting, my cat asleep in front of it, and my desk light casting a warm pool of light around the corner I’m tucked into, I must admit, I kind of like it.

All this weather, the drama of it all.

Last night as we drove the million miles to the store (It’s really about a ten minute drive, I just got spoiled at my last house) it started snowing. At first, it was just tiny, spotty things that melted as soon as they hit the ground. But by the time I pulled into the parking lot, they were massive, feathery flakes, falling in a flurry. I was so nervous about driving home in the snow that I rushed through my shopping like a woman possessed…only to find that the snow had completely disappeared, without a trace, by the time I left the store.

On the way home, I saw a fox trotting down the side of the wooded road that leads to my house.

Bit by bit, I am adjusting. There are things I like very much about it here, and things I miss about California, of course. There are things I love about this weird little place I am staying in, and things I am utterly frustrated by; But…I hardly ever feel as if I am supposed to be going back to my house in Seaside anymore. The terrible longing to go home is fading away. Thankfully.

Of course, I have my work, which is the biggest, best anchor of all- I think if I’d had to start all over in that regard, I’d really be in trouble. The familiarity of that has been a saving grace, for sure. And Cam is in school again, so…it’s like normal life has resumed, only thousands of miles away.

And that is kind of the crux of it, really…the part I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge, probably because I didn’t want to believe it- my life will be MY life no matter where I go. What is that stupid saying? Wherever you go, there you are? Well, isn’t that the truth. You see, the Courtney that visited here all those times before was vacation Courtney. But every day, average Courtney is the one living here, and they are two very different people. I would hate to think that I moved three thousand miles from home to get away from myself, only to find that I had the nerve to come with me. And yet…well, here I am.

All my shortcomings risen to the surface, emphasized marvelously by my disorientation. My anxiety, my low threshold for frustration, my disdain for change. My God, what was I thinking?! It’s been probably a decade since Border’s closed its doors forever and I’m still not even over that, for Pete’s sake! Why I ever thought I could just skip across the world and slide effortlessly into a totally different routine is beyond me. It really is.

Yet here I am. A month and a half in, and it’s finally sinking in that I’m here. I’m in Maine. I only have to use my GPS some of the time now- I’d say it’s about 80/20 these days. I can leave my house after dark and feel relatively confident that I won’t end up in a swamp or lost in New Hampshire when I only wanted to grab some milk. I even went to the dentist last week- I mean, I had no choice, my crown fell off, but still, I did it!

In reality, although the view has changed, my life itself hasn’t changed much at all. I don’t know how I feel about that. Again, I am still me, just somewhere new. And maybe I had hoped that I would be nicer or better or different, somehow. What I’ve learned there is that if you want to be different, you have to work on yourself, not your surroundings. And if I’d realized that was at the bottom of it all, perhaps I would have realized that, but I was keeping that secret from myself.

I still don’t know what I’m doing. How long I’ll be here or what happens next. I do know this, though- I’ve landed in a beautiful place. Sunrises and sunsets like no others I’ve ever seen. Howling storms and waves that wash right over the sea wall and onto the road. Streets lined with hundred year old mansions, decked out with Christmas lights as the snow gently falls. Little bridges everywhere over rivers that flow backwards when the tide rushes in. Every time I drive somewhere, I tell Camryn “This sure is a magical place!”, and she agrees that it is.

If I was going to follow myself anywhere, I’m glad that it was here. The rest…well, I’m working on it.

Posted in adventure, faith, family, happiness, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random, women

Grace Period

A funny thing that recurs repeatedly for me is the realization of how well I think I know myself, how much I think I know about the way I show up and operate within my life…only to be smacked upside the head with reminders of just how forgetful I am. Now, here’s the thing- I can predict pretty accurately how I am going to feel and react and show up in a familiar situation. But put me in a new situation, one where I feel completely out of sorts and out of my element…and all bets are off.

Last night was the fifth night I spent in this incredibly odd condo I rented in Maine (more on that later) and, had you asked me even yesterday morning- even last night, for that matter- how I felt about all of this, I don’t know what I would have said. Probably depends on who was asking. I might have lied and said (in a rather flat and unenthusiastic voice, as I am a terrible liar) “Oh, it’s good- just getting settled, you know.” More likely still, I would have talked about how gorgeous the neighborhood is, which is absolutely the truth, and mentioned that I was kind of lonely, the condo was not exactly what I’d expected, and I was FINE.

A few of my trusted friends and family got to hear the story of my toddler-style tantrum in the bathtub the night before last when I realized the tubs plug didn’t work, after I’d dumped in my expensive bubble bath and jumped in, excited after not showering for two days. I was REALLY looking forward to that bath. My mom is the only one who got to hear the story of how, while loading the new dishwasher that is set up completely differently than my old dishwasher, I forgot that the silverware was in the front and stabbed myself in the webbing of my hand with a dirty fork. Hard enough to draw blood. These are little things, I know, but when everything is so different- and I mean everything- these little things feel so big. Insult to injury, you know?

What I have said to no one at all are the things that bother me the most. Like, why am I not happier than this? Why don’t I feel the way I expected to feel? I got what I wanted most in the world, shouldn’t I be jumping for joy? What if I made a huge mistake? Why am I so homesick already? What is wrong with me?

I have felt this unnecessary pressure to plop right into this entirely new life, three thousand miles away from everything familiar, and be ecstatic about all of it. Overjoyed that I got lost three times in one car ride to the local CVS. Thrilled to shit about the dead spot in town where my GPS glitches out, telling me “turn right in one mile” “turn right” and “proceed to route” all in ten seconds. I feel embarrassed that I’m homesick when I couldn’t wait to leave, embarrassed that I haven’t slipped into life here like an old pair of jeans. I know how lucky I am to get to do all of this- keep my job and follow my dreams and get the adventure of a lifetime- so I’m a little ashamed of how ungrateful I’ve been feeling. Not ungrateful, even. Just…freaked out. Lost. Adrift. Frustrated.

Well Jesus Christ, Courtney. I am not a Muppet on Sesame Street. This is real life, it’s my real life, and it’s pretty turned upside down and inside out right now. I spent the last month packing and cleaning, sorting and selling. I spent five days driving from California to Maine in a car with two cats, a kid, and half of my belongings. I spent four nights in different states. I arrived here on Monday and was back to work by Wednesday morning. I am trying to set my life up in the midst of a pandemic while half-heartedly quarantining, which is easier than it sounds when you take into account that I know exactly four people here and they are all one family. I am exhausted, disoriented, and on my own in a way that I am unfamiliar with. In Monterey, I was on my own, but I didn’t have to be…and I knew where everything was, you know?

So yesterday I started thinking about what I could do to restore some sense of normalcy to my life. Thursday night, I’d unpacked my candles and incense, my crystals, tarot cards, and books and arranged them on a shelf as a sort of mini-altar. Later that evening, we picked up dinner from a restaurant in town and sat down together, Cam and I, at the dining room table and had dinner. I liked that a lot. Yesterday, I meditated for the first time in a long time. Last night, I cooked dinner here for the first time, and again, we sat down together to eat. After dinner, we sat in the living room- she watched TV while I read, and it was nice to spend time together.

We don’t have a yard here and I was worried that would be a problem with a dog, but…actually, it’s been kind of a bonus. There is a beautiful beach half a block from my door, so Lucy gets walked about four times every day, which means I get to walk four times every day! I like that a lot, too. The sunrises here are the most incredible things I’ve ever seen, and a brisk walk at sunrise is a pretty great way to start a day.

And yes, the condo is quirky- it’s filled with too much furniture and SO much junk. The floors slope up and down, the blinds are broken, most of the furniture is rickety and falling apart. It’s also not very clean. BUT: the beds are clean and new, the carpets and couches are nice, the washer and dryer are very new. Most importantly, though, it feels warm, and not spooky at all- which is important in a place that’s over a hundred years old! It’s so quiet here, and very dark at night- no sirens, no neighbors outside yelling, no loud music or fireworks.

There is much to like and be appreciative of, but I forgot that it takes time. I forgot that I might need a moment to catch my breath, to figure out where the steak knives are, to feel at home. I forgot that the way I felt the first day I arrived wouldn’t be the way I always felt, or even how I felt the next day. I forgot that I needed a grace period. And today, I am feeling a lot better.

Oh, and I also found a hardware store and bought an old fashioned bathtub plug. So, I think I’m going to be okay pretty soon.