Tag Archives: moving


21 Sep

We are between places.  Where we are right now is not our destination, but we have been busy and filled up and that has been good.

Visiting the Art Lady’s House.

All of that stuff that makes a big move stressful has been put on hold for us.  It’s like we’re speed dating the East Coast after being gone from the scene for a couple of years.  As a result, my mind which is usually pretty good at sorting out the background noise from the important stuff is running on a different set of cylinders doing all of the those things you do when you are buying a house and playing with cousins and living close to Target.

And spent.

But somehow amidst the noisy everyday stuff is the reality that our life as we know it at this minute is just temporary.  Beyond the unpacking and organizing that we are going to face, moving is hard work and filled with questions.  Sometimes it’s just little stuff like adjusting to grocery stores with new layouts or learning street names and short cuts.  But there are these other questions that are pretty big:  Who will you call when your baby gets sick?  Who will give you that haircut that makes you feel fantastic?  Who will you invite over on a Friday night to share a pizza with?

Drawing “our family.”  

The good news is that this time around thinking about all of these things doesn’t make me feel as overwhelmed and off balance.  I have the experience of having done it twice before.  I know all of those questions will get answered and things that seem new and different will fade into normalness.  Now I know that when the time comes to roll up my sleeves and get the work done I can handle it.

“Apparently my size makes me kind of scary.” ~ Hank

All of the writing I did over the last two years, facing my struggles head on and being hell bent on learning from them was one of the most worthwhile things I’ve ever done for myself.  My experience moving to Oregon was like having that really challenging teacher.  You know the one, she made you work harder than you ever had to before, but you stuck it out and when you think of great teachers it’s her that you think of first.

The only size that matters between friends is the size of your heart.

The biggest lessons I learned were about having patience and appreciating that one moment you are living that you will never get back.  That is what I want to take with me on this move and every one to come.  Life is happening so be a part of it, wherever you are and with whatever gifts you have been given.  And try; really try, to embrace it.

We spend our lives in a state of in between.  It’s a great place to be if you really think about it, looking back and appreciating where you’ve been and staying hopeful about the future.  It isn’t always easy, but if you assemble it right you’ll end up sandwiched between a whole lot of good stuff.


A Blogiversary

3 Sep

It’s been a year since I posted for the first time on The Oregon Tail. I can’t believe how much has changed. A few months ago Ryan asked me what was going to happen to The Oregon Tail. Did I feel like it was time to end the story I had felt compelled to tell?

We sat in our living room and talked about it for over an hour coming to the conclusion that perhaps it was time to write the last post and end it. Hadn’t I accomplished the feat that seemed so enormous? We moved, made friends, settled a bit. I had started to feel a shift inside. I was okay with being here. We did it.

And I really was ready to end it all. This post, September 3, 2011 was going to be it. I could print out these posts, staple them together, and tuck them away. One year seemed like a perfect place to call it quits.

But then, I couldn’t do it. This blog was the thing that kept me going. I would write unencumbered by the fact that I was brand new in a place where I knew nobody and everyone I did know was far, far away. The writing became an outlet for the range of emotions I felt during this first year. Clicking publish let me acknowledge everything that was swirling around inside and then let me move on. It was hard sometimes. To put down those raw feelings, worrying that people would worry about me. Or wonder if I was happy, if everything was okay. To risk being talked about, perhaps judged. What I found instead was an outpouring of support.

The year went on and I could feel a change in me. Less posting about what had been lost and more posting about what I had been given. Now I’m trying to find a comfortable place between where I’m from and where I’m going. I don’t know where we will be living in 10 years or even 5 years. It just happens to be the way it is for our family. I’m not sure if I will ever have the experience of a forever place. And that makes my life have this irresistable adventurelike quality.

I am happy that I get to tuck these experiences with my family into this little corner of the world I can call my own, maybe for always or maybe just for now. All I do know is that I’m not done telling our stories.

So thank you for caring about us enough to read this little blog. To those of you who have followed us this whole way, sending your comments like virtual hugs, cheers! And Happy Blogiversary to me.

The Gift

30 Jul

There’s a story that hasn’t been told. One that centers around a friend, a necklace, and a plane ride. Today is the right time to tell it.

The moving truck was filling up fast. The rooms empty except for a few cardboard boxes. I got a phone call from a friend saying she wanted to stop by. I dreaded this moment. When she arrived we chatted until it was time to say goodbye. She handed me a card and a silver padded envelope. I didn’t want to cry so I waited to open it after she left.

Inside the envelope was a necklace. A lotus flower fashioned on a silver circle. “New Beginnings” the card read, “wear your necklace daily as a reminder to embrace new experiences and opportunities…just like the lotus, rising from muddy beginnings into something beautiful and celebrated.”

And I did wear it. Everyday. It helped me walk around the block. Unpack a box. Get a library card. Sleep at night. Meet a friend.

It became a habit to wear it. Like brushing my teeth. I felt that by wearing it, my dear friend, who I was used to talking to almost daily on the phone was right there with me.

She did stay with me. (And still does.) A phone call from her makes my day. We always chat easily. She’s honest and real and funny as hell. She’s also a very experienced traveller (with and without babies). Naturally she was the first person I called after booking my sans Ryan trip back East. She was confident I could handle it.

The morning of the trip arrived. My bags were packed. I got dressed and put on my necklace. I can travel by myself, across the country, on a plane, with a baby (a very squirmy baby).

We went through security. A lady folded my stroller for me. We boarded the first leg of our flight. I was seated next to a man who had twins, twice. He had nothing under his seat so he gave me his extra room. We arrived in Dallas. We had lunch. We survived our 3 hour layover. We had our last bathroom stop before boarding. I pushed Abigail into the bathroom. She was playing with my water bottle and lost her grip. I quickly reached down to grab it before it fell on the floor. When I stood up I felt a tug. My hand went to my neck. The necklace had been caught on the handle of the stroller and was now broken.
My eyes were filling up fast. I didn’t have time to cry. Our flight was boarding. I put the necklace into my backpack and headed out of the bathroom. A few hours later we landed in Richmond. I had done it.

I couldn’t believe the timing of the necklace breaking. In the past few months I had grown so much. I was stronger and braver. It wasn’t just the necklace that helped me adjust. It was the thought behind it. A friend I never wanted to leave unselfishly gave me all the support in the world. Every call, every text, every note she continues to bless me with makes it a little easier to be away. It isn’t surprising that her name is Joy.


22 Jun

When I was a kid my sister and I would ride our bikes through the neighborhood deciding on the two best houses that were side by side — because we were going to be next door neighbors. If I walked through my backyard and crossed the bridge my dad built I was at my aunt and uncle’s house, which just happened to be next door to my cousin’s house, and down the street from my grandfather’s house. When you grow up like that and love it, like I did, you can’t imagine life any other way.

So it is sometimes strange that I have found myself somewhere else entirely. I expected to be down the street from my sister and minutes away from family birthday parties and dinners. I wanted my kids to have the magical childhood that I did. One filled with friends you’ve known forever, cousins that aren’t strangers, and bike rides to swim practice with nothing but your towel around your neck and your goggles on your handlebars. Less than a year ago I didn’t even know Newport existed and now we are raising our daughter here.

It’s the end of June and we’re still wearing jeans and long sleeves. We put our sandals on and try to wear short sleeves because it’s going to be 60 and not 55! We go outside and it’s the absence, not presence, of cicadas that’s deafening. Summer swim team may happen, I don’t know, but it’s indoors and a thunderstorm would be about as likely as a snowstorm.

Those things that just spell summer to me do not exsist here. It’s like I’m waiting for something that may never happen — like living next door to my sister or across town from my parents or even getting back to Virginia. And this dream I’ve had for myself since I was a little girl is inside this balloon. I’m holding on to the string desperate not to lose my grip, but I know there are only two choices: let it go freely or cling to it and watch it wither. So I find myself slowly letting go because in my wanting to give Abigail a cheap recreation of the childhood I had, I am depriving myself of seeing the magic in the one she is making for herself.

Like the thrill of a golf course emptied out for the day with green grass stretching in every direction. Nothing but room to run after your daddy in your favorite too small hoodie and new shoes. Conquering the slight undulations in the earth as if they were mountains. And a laugh that echoes through the trees and may just touch the ocean.

Sitting there on the 6th hole with Hank beside me I knew I was watching magic. So if letting go of my own notions of what childhood should be gives Abigail room to create one all her own then I’m up for the adventure. To the unknown. Together.

Finding Peace

10 May

Part of the reason I write this blog is for myself but I mostly write for Abigail. She is so small and wonderful and everything seems to be happening so fast. Perhaps one day she will be still again and will climb into my lap and ask what she was like as a baby and I’ll have some stories to tell her about growing up on the Oregon coast. Ones that aren’t hard to remember and in pieces, but whole ones that have been saved because I took this time to flesh them out. Or maybe one day an adult Abigail will ask me if she should take a great opportunity which means following an unknown path and she will find strength knowing that her parents once took a similar risk.

But the other reason I write and post is to stay connected. To say the things that I might if I were still there. Because somehow these people I have met along the way have become part of who I am without even realizing it.

And then I’m sure there are people that read my posts and think I need to just put a sock in it and get on with my life. And that’s fine, too. Maybe I do. But those people have probably never lived in Virginia and then moved to Oregon. It would be tough for anyone.

But when I sit down to try and pinpoint what exactly is so different I have trouble. Appalachian Mountains – Cascade Mountains. Atlantic – Pacific. Deciduous Trees – Evergreen Trees. Sweet Tea – Chai Tea. At first it seems like there aren’t many differences at all because the differences aren’t in the physical things. People say Oregon is a beautiful state and it is. But so is Virginia. The real difference lies in the state of mind. The attitude. So it’s been an adjustment to the openess, the informality, and the free spiritedness.

To some, changing is a sign of weakness. To me, it is a great challenge of strength. I will never stray so far from the core of who I am that I lose my sense of self. (I will probably never have a compost pile and I will always secretly want an Amstel Light.) But the challenge we all face is to realize that we can only become the best version of ourselves by being open to new experiences. To allow change to happen when it should.

Life here isn’t all tears and sadness. In fact, my car (okay minivan but I’m still in denial about that) now proudly sports an Oregon license plate and you know what, I like it. The Oregon license plate is quite nice. And fortunately – so are the people. I’m lucky they put up with an uptight east coaster like me.  I’ll find my peace.  I always do.  This time I just happen to have a lot of people helping me out both near and far – stranger and friend.


7 May

One year ago I sat in the Lynchburg ER listening to the doctor tell me I was being admitted to the hospital and was scheduled for surgery in the morning, Mother’s Day.

My mom and sister had driven up as soon as they heard what was happening. And suddenly there I was wheeled up to general surgery floor with my mom and Ryan taking Abigail home and my sister telling me she was staying. The surgery went fine and in 24 hours I was home. Not healed, but better.

Abigail woke up at 1:30 last night. I sat in the dark, rocking her as I had done so many times before. I could feel her precious head nestled in the spot between my shoulder and my neck. My smush. These moments are so fleeting now that I was peaceful with the knowledge I was still needed this way. I sat there and my heart became very quiet. Then wide awake with the realization of the parallel track my life seemed to be on.

Last year I just wanted to know when. If I could just know when Ryan would pack that last piece of gauze, when I would be able to sleep on my right side, when I would have my final follow up appointment. If I had these answers, I knew I could get through it. I didn’t have those answers. (If you’re curious it was three months and two quarts of saline, 8 boxes of gauze, and 10 follow up appointments later.)

This year I wanted to know when, too. When was it going to get easier? When would I be able to talk on the phone to a friend without crying? When was the stinking weather going to get better?

And then, the rhythm of Abigail’s breathing caught me off guard. In. Out. Like the tides. In. Out. Or possibly. Low. High. Isn’t that the rhythm of our life?  Every in has an out and behind every low tide is a high one. You just have to wait with patience and hope. I’m not healed, but perhaps, better.

My Long, and Somewhat Winding Road

7 Mar

There is a space between where you once were and where you are now. In that space lives two parts of one self – the half that can’t stop looking back and the half that tugs forward. I have been in that space for many months finding it hard to push the past from dominating my daily thoughts. It hasn’t been easy to come to terms with a version of myself that didn’t include weekly newsletters, grading papers, and creating my little 2nd grade bubble. It has not been easy to start once again at the beginning of a friendship when you know there are friendships in a different place where you share so much history and ease. And it hasn’t been easy getting used to a totally new climate. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of someone from back home. It is kind of ridiculous how many things make the memories come. And I get sad. A lot. And I fight so hard to hold back the tears that once in a while still find me by telling myself that each month that passes is one month closer to getting back home. Because I still miss it so much.

But there is still that second part of myself. The one that keeps tugging me forward knowing that you can’t stand still forever. And I haven’t. Because dinners with new friends, playdates, and the chance to explore a new place won’t let me. I am grateful for those people that have helped my life here find some roots. They probably don’t know how a walk or a text message or an invitation to do something has helped me find happiness here. A piece of my heart will always be back east in Virginia. You can’t live somewhere for nearly 30 years and not feel that way, but now I have hope that a piece of my heart will also be here in Oregon. Because home isn’t just one place, at least not for me.