Archive | September, 2010

Drive on the Highway. Repeat.

30 Sep

Nothing says progress like crossing over the Mississippi. Today’s driving directions? “Drive west on I-80.” Now those are some directions that I can handle.  Unlike yesterday when I decided to be spontaneous and pull off the highway to check out The University of Illinois. As I was gawking and carrying on about how much I loved U of I and excitedly telling Ryan to take pictures of the gorgeous Alpha Chi house for me (which he didn’t get) and the even more gorgeous Kappa house for my friend Ashley (which he did get) – I was also driving through pedestrian crosswalks without thinking and almost running over students. “Pedestrians have the right of way! It’s a college campus, Sarah!” Ryan shouted. True. Did I mention that college students are getting younger? Good grief!  I felt every bit of my 29 years as I zipped around town in my minivan. By this time Abigail was screaming and Hank was about to pee his pants, if he were wearing pants. So, we decided to head back to a park we passed for a quick pit stop. Well, by the time I blew past the park for the second time and ended up in the middle of a detour, I was beginning to rethink my decision that it would be “fun” to be spontaneous because I looked back and thought Ryan’s head was going to spin off. Oops. After getting stuck behind what probably was the longest train in the world we finally made it to the park, had a lovely time, and were back on the road. It was a whopping 15 miles before Abigail started screaming bloody murder. I couldn’t blame the kid, she had been in the car for almost 9 hours and I kind of wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but I know better. When the usual tricks didn’t work, funny faces, silly songs, a parade of toys, I did the thing I never thought I would do – took a big whiff of her diaper. Oh yes, it was a gold mine in there. Off we pulled once again. Our 8 hour journey to my sister’s house ended up being an eternity. So for all of you who thought we were insane for attempting this journey with Abigail and Hank, you were right. But we’re making it. One mile at a time. Besides, it was all worth it when we pulled into Galesburg and got to see Jane, Dimitri, and Eileen. AND, I really did love the University of Illinois.

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Goodbye

30 Sep

It is a very interesting thing to drive somewhere and know that you will not drive back. One would think that I would have thought of this before we headed up 501 North and passed the Big Island Mill for the last time, but I hadn’t. And no matter how much I cannot stand that curvy, windy, mess of a road somehow when you think of it from the perspective of not knowing when you will be back it changes things. Did I shed a few tears? You bet.

So, if you ever find yourself in Lynchburg do me a favor: take a walk on “The Avenue,” head to the J. Crew clearance store for something snazzy, then grab a burger and a beer at The Cav. Oh, and don’t forget to wave to the King of Germany as you leave town.

So here’s to you, Lynchburg. It’s been fun.

Our Home

23 Sep

There once was a house that sat on the corner of a street. Surrounded by trees it stood with a weathered paint job and failing roof. Inside lay broken dreams in the midst of filth and sadness. Finally a sign was hammered into the ground out front. One day a woman came to the house. Beside her was a man with glasses and a polo shirt. “Isn’t this fantastic?” The woman whispered. The husband, who liked to think things over, said not a word. They went from room to room stepping over unpaid bills and children’s toys. I see what you can be. The woman said inside her heart. The house took a deep breath in for no one had noticed it in awhile. The woman passed the plates stacked high in the kitchen and the dirty counters and said, I see what you can be. The house breathed in again, this time a little deeper. The young couple walked out onto the deck to see a backyard covered in leaves, vines, and weeds. I see what you can be. She whispered once again. The house breathed in deeper still. She turned to the man. “This is our home. I know it.” “Are you sure about that? It needs an awful lot of work.” “I am.” The man, being the sensible one, weighed the risks and it was decided that the house was indeed a good one. The house was overjoyed. Once again its heart was full. The couple waited and waited. It seemed the closing would never happen.  Finally the day came. The couple took the woman’s parents to the house. They had never been so excited. The parents walked around slowly, taking in every part of the house, cutting their eyes at the disaster that lay before them. “Do you love it?” the woman said. “It is a lot of work.” the parents replied. “But we will help you.” So they did. The women scrubbed and scrubbed. The men painted and painted. They were exhausted, but again and again they returned. To scrub and paint. Weed and floor. It was many years before the home was finished. But each time a job was finished, the house seemed to stand a little taller.  Each time the white, work trailer drove away, the house seemed to stand a little prouder. The house saw many things. A book club formed, a dog was adopted, a bad accident happened, a baby was born. Until one day a sign was hammered into the front yard. A girl came to see the house. She didn’t like the door or the old satellite dish.  The house was sad once more so the woman whispered, I know what you are. Stand proud, sweet home. And it did — for it knew the road it had travelled.

Steps

12 Sep

We really shouldn’t have made Walmart the first place I saw in Newport, but we needed toothpaste. One mini tube for 6 days between two people is just not enough and toothpaste should not be something you try to “conserve” anyhow. I typically do not find myself to be a judgemental person, but when thinking about who I could see myself being friends with in this new place I was guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I whispered, “Ryan, am I going to have friends here? Are there any normal people here?” I was getting worried because it seemed that with every person we passed my chances of finding a friend were getting smaller and smaller. I could have hopped on the plane back to Lynchburg right then, painted the soles of my shoes with Gorilla Glue, and dared anyone to try and move me. But, then I realized how completely psycho I was being, so I tried to keep things in perspective by telling myself things like, “The people in every Walmart are always a little interesting.” Right?!?!?

Three days later I am slowly coming to realize that just because change is hard does not mean that it shouldn’t be welcomed. Everything we see and experience on this trip is helping to put things into a new focus. It is not often that one gets to move to a new place that embraces an altogether different attitude and way of life. You will not find the majority of people in Newport living in big, fancy houses. Homes here are functional, a place to eat and sleep. You cannot exclude yourself from people that are different from you in terms of socioeconomic factors by holing yourself up in a brand new subdivision. You must coexist with all of your neighbors, and a quick drive through the small town will show you exactly what I mean. Well manicured homes are down the street from homes with peeling paint and children’s toys everywhere. But all of that is somehow not so important here.

What I saw as glaring inconsistencies with what I considered to be a respectable way of life have turned into challenges for refocusing my own priorities. Can we make a 1000 square foot house work if it means we get to be a couple blocks from the ocean? It was overwhelming.

I had to run 7 miles this morning. I decided that a beach run would clear my head and help me to think things through without worrying about the street names. Slowly my head cleared as I listened to the waves crashing and my feet crunching through the sand. Then it hit me, I was exhausted. Not just physically as I looked ahead to the end of the beach and realized that I had to go all the way back the other way, but emotionally, too. It had been hard to hold it all together. To keep a brave face. As I looked down I saw that beside me were a pair of footprints. I ran with those footprints for the next mile or so. Footprints that had been left by an earlier runner doing exactly what I had set out to do. But, I couldn’t help but have my mind repeat the “Footprints” poem that for so long hung in my parents bathroom. “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.” I could go on and on about the flaws of Newport, but suddenly it didn’t matter so much. I want to approach this as the adventure of a lifetime that it will be. Sometimes it will be hard, but it will be in those moments that we will carry each other through it.

Newport is a small beachtown. An active fishing community that brings in Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, and salmon (to name a few). A place where people from all over come for a vacation. Barking sea lions below the piers echo along the bay. Restaurants serve local seafood and produce – much of it organic and sustainable in two small, but thriving downtown locations. A place that prides itself on it’s performing arts center. Somewhere that jeans and a fleece are just fine for a fancy dinner.  Somewhere  you can see cliffs sweeping majestically on the backside of miles of beautiful, clean beaches.

Will I make the friends of a lifetime? It remains to be seen, but I think Newport is a place where our whole family will become a lot closer and more centered on the beauty that sometimes rises out of madness.

Training

5 Sep

I dreaded the four miles I had before me. It was my long run day in preparation for the upcoming 10 Miler here in Lynchburg. I was missing my running partner, Joy. Our schedules were not aligning this week for the first time in the 12 weeks we’ve been training together. Three years ago we had gotten together to run the 4 miler, a shorter but still challenging part of the 10 Miler events. It was a miracle that we even finished because we had not done any kind of preparation whatsoever. On the course we talked about how next time we were going to do the 10 so our t-shirts that said, “Virginia 10-Miler” would be legit. But life got in the way, she had her first baby and then another. I had a running injury and by the time I was ready to get started again I was pregnant with Abigail. It was one of the best days of the summer when the surgeon finally gave me the stamp of approval to run again. I immediately went to get some new sneakers, and Joy and I began the tedious process of building up our stamina. What started out as run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes has become 13+ miles a week. The days I look most forward to are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays (or Sundays) when we get together to follow our “Hal Higdon” 10 mile training plan. The running seems easier with all the talk of babies, life, and reality TV.   Continue reading

Moving On

3 Sep
I have two babies under the age of two.  My older baby is rather large and furry.  The newest baby is small, and well, not furry.  It’s a good thing that Abigail is so darn cute or no one would even know she was around.  You would think Hank was a dog version of Cinderella with the way he carries on, acting so completely deprived.  We try to pretend for the sake of Hank’s sanity that he is still the center of our small universe.  You don’t want a 150 pound dog turning on you.  That’s a lot of slobber to face.  But the secret is although I love both of my babies, when Abigail came along there was just no comparison.  That is how this whole moving thing started.