26 July 2011

Coming Home

I'm sorry I didn't write sooner, but I'm here.

We left Bellevue about 6 am on the morning of Monday, July 11 and after stops in Midway, UT, then Englewood, CO, then Holyrood, KS, then Jefferson City, MO, then Franklin, TN, I finally pulled into the driveway of the new place I call home in Casselberry, FL at about 9 pm Saturday evening, July 16. 3,507.7 miles driven over about 58 hours and 6 days, and I was finally able to hang up the keys to the Toyota pickup and eat something other than food from truck stops or Subway stands.

A map of our cross-country trek: click to enlarge

Seeing James after an absence of 12 weeks was nothing less than surreal. We had conversed via Skype many times over those twelve weeks. Skype is great for what it is and definitely helped, but it's a poor substitute for actually being with someone you love. Seeing him again and being with him again was like waking up to find the best dream I ever had was true.

Many tried to tell us that twelve weeks was not "that bad." To be sure, our respective times apart were filled with preparations for a major move, wrapping up one life while trying to prepare ourselves for the next, saying goodbye, packing storage units, renting moving trucks, and for me, dealing with the persistent nausea that marked the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy. While apart, both our strengths and our weaknesses were amplified. Those things for which I leaned upon him -- things that (admittedly) he is better at than me -- became things I had to do on my own. And I didn't handle them well.

And so while I appreciate the encouragement of those who said those weeks really wouldn't be all that bad, I say: we are better together. A twelve-week separation, while perhaps not equal to torture, is something less than pleasant where my spouse and I are concerned.

Since I've arrived, my days have been filled with unpacking and setting up, and with the daily tasks of keeping a home running. I'm never lacking anything to do -- my list looks like many others, I am sure: laundry and dishes, cooking and cleaning up, sifting through what feels like mountains of cardboard boxes and trying to find a place for everything.

I knew this would happen, but I'm still surprised at how much I need to nap, even after a good night's sleep. Especially in the weeks prior to my departure, my days were filled with work, preparations, and in wrapping up all the loose ends. There was plenty to do and not a lot of time for rest. And then came 10-15 hour days in the car for six days on end. So while unpacking isn't going as quickly as I like, I know this is the time to get rest, to be gentle with myself, and to try and get what I need.

And then there's all the work of living in a new state: transferring our insurance policies, getting new licenses and registrations for our cars, learning the lay of the land. We're also looking for a new prenatal care provider and have set up appointments to consult with both an OB/GYN office and a respected midwife in the area. In the evenings, we'll walk around the neighborhood and meet our neighbors. I've become accustomed to handling the inevitable question about this being our first child, and am relieved at the genuine sympathy displayed when they learn about Ewan's all-too-brief stay with us.

It is a huge adjustment being here: the climate is different, the culture is different, and nothing at all is familiar except my spouse. He's now at work all day, and for the first time in most of my life, I am not a full-time student or employee. Everything is new, which is both exciting and frustrating -- so I'm trying to take it slow, and am not expecting everything to be sparkly and beautiful right away. I miss my friends and family, and I miss the way things were familiar. This isn't the first time I've been new to a place, but there is a little bit of sadness in each time that happens. It takes time to get to know the place, and for the place to get to know you.

Fresh starts don't typically come without a few bumps along the way. For now, I'm here, thanking God for a safe and uneventful journey on the way here, and taking my time to learn this new life. Stay tuned for more ...