Friday, September 27, 2013

No Time To Stand Still

Since moving to Chicago I have learned many new things, which I find amusing and somewhat disconcerting. I learned which neighborhoods I will never visit, due to the amount of violence in the city. I learned what "Wildings" are, an activity where groups of people accost an individual, and I learned that having the lake on the east is perplexing to me. Being from Cleveland, Ohio, it so ingrained in me that the lake is north, it has cost me a great deal of time getting lost in Houston and now Chicago. Houston had the coast on the south side, and Chicago has Lake Michigan to the east. It seems Lake Erie will always take the north position on my personal compass. I remain unemployed, but not without activity. I have sculpted an original piece of artwork, and one that I love. I have written a play, being judged, and I sold a painting. I am starting a small, very small, tiny, little business to be announced later, and I am still looking for a "day job". While I am technically unemployed, I am not idle, except on the days I am overwhelmed by the move, which happens. The Midwest seems for the most part the same, but there are nuances to any city and I am having to learn what living in Chicagoland is for myself. I love the convenience of things, the mass transportation, the people. I really like the people. Michael said it and I think it is true, they just seem to get me. Folks in Houston are nice, but getting me is not something that happened often. Maybe it was because they were southern and I was northern. Maybe it was because I laughed too loud, and they were more demure. Or maybe I translate better in the Midwest. I tend to think that is the case, that the Midwesterner just get my humor, and understands my references. Texas had a Cleveland, so any time I said I was from Cleveland they assumed it was the small town 30 minutes north of Houston. When I say Cleveland here, everybody instantly knows where that is, and they don't make Cleveland jokes, which I remain grateful. I am having to navigate new digs once again. We do not own a home yet, but are waiting for one we are interested in. In the mean time, some days are meaner than others, we are renting a small townhouse. Most of our belongings remain in the "Big House" stored away, which is difficult because whenever I look for something I can guarantee it is in there, imprisoned until we move again. Once we do purchase a property, we will have moved 5 times in 3 years. let that little nugget of information sink in for a moment. I actively wince when I think about it, so naturally, I try not to. I miss my old house, my friends, but I really don't miss Houston that much. It isn't that Houston isn't lovely, but I am better off here, in the north where seasons change and winds blow. I have gone and participated in the plethora of festivals all over this area. I have picked apples, seen art shows, gotten to know folks at several medical facilities due an abnormal mammogram, which I am happy to say is benign, but still a surgical thing. I know my neighbors, at least by face if not by name, and I am now figuring out which channels are the local ones on the cable box. Like most things I have experienced, in six months, I will be living here without even thinking about having moved 1100 miles to do it. For now we are still the family who moved all the way from Texas. It's cute how some neighbors still call us Texans because they can't remember our names. I have moments of severe discomfort from the move when I look at my beloved as if I am asking, "Was it worth it?" and he smiles back at me with the, "It's too soon to tell" smile across his lips. We like it here, we do, but moving whether it is across town, or across country is never easy. I do know where to shop for groceries, and how to get around to find things and I now have a handy dandy iphone that helps me navigate when my directions are bad. I could have really used that when we moved down south and I couldn't find anything. The weather is becoming cooler, the wind now has a slight nip to it, which causes me to wrap up in snuggly clothes. I had given most of my winter wear away after living in the south for so long, so I imagine I will have to at some point, go shopping for more weather appropriate clothes. As a writer, I like to take steps back and look at this from the outside when I can. As a human, I almost have to do that every once in a while to gain perspective, for fear of being swallowed up by the negatives. My default is to want to believe that all things happen for a reason, even during the times when I am getting my ass kicked. Or should I say, especially when I am getting my ass kicked. I am happy we moved, even though it is hard at times, even though the rough parts have been a little rougher than I had hoped. As much as I liked Texas, and love my southern friends, I am a Midwesterner at heart and I feel very much like I am home after a very long absence. The folks from here say all the time that I will change my tune once winter hits. I suppose there is something to that. No one has a better spring than Texas. If you decide to see Texas, go in the spring, it is magnificent. I will miss my mild winters, and tropical sweet smelling blossoms, but for now I have the smell of fall, where I lean in and inhale as deeply as I can taking it all in. The leaves are about to change and the evenings are chilly. The other day I was referred to as an activist, a much better title than an unemployable. My summer had been filled to the brim with letters to Congressional members, watching live stream political events and adding my voice whenever I thought I could help. I had all that time, so I figured why not? Or better yet, I have no excuse to not get involved. I wasn't too busy, I wasn't really busy at all, so I came into a fold of people who are trying to accomplish reform. I should have titled this blog Moving Day, because when I look at my posts so many are about moving from one place to another, changing jobs, careers, residences. At 50 I had pictured myself firmly entrenched in a house I had owned for years, doing a job for almost as long and having holiday dinners at my house for the extended family. It's a nice Norman Rockwell kind of picture, isn't it? It isn't even close to my reality, but it's a nice picture. Once I stop dreaming about what kind of life that would have been, I always ask myself the same question. Would I even remotely be the same person if I had taken that path instead? We all know that answer for ourselves. I would have had different problems, different quandaries, different ideals, and maybe even different opinions. What moving has given me is the ability to be afraid and do stuff anyway. It gave me new eyes when meeting people for the first time. Moving forced me to open up, feel exposed, vulnerable, and without ego. Moving allowed me to let go of my past, and reinvent myself according to who I wanted to be rather than people from my past dictating who they thought I was. A couple of days ago, Mike and I went house hunting, a plan B for us. The subject inevitably comes up about how long we are planning to live here. If we buy house 1, will we get our money out of it if we choose to move before 10 years, and what of the housing market and can we remodel and recoup if an opportunity comes up earlier. In our heads we are already moving again. Maybe it is a force of habit, maybe it is the wanderer that seems to rear up every few years, or maybe it is merely an old habit that we may have to leave behind. Since I have so much time on my hands, I am trying to fill my days doing all the things I wanted to do and swore I didn't have the time. I am an artist, musician, writer, dog walker, activist, gourmet cook, hiker, biker, and perpetual dork. It is a luxury to have the time, even without the money to bolster my options. I told Mike the other day, my biggest fear is finding a job and getting settled and not having any time. Tonight is date night. It was chosen at random just because I have the time to plan it. There will be simple inexpensive pleasures of a home cooked meal, a bottle of wine and a winding walk around nature. There will be hand holding, long kisses and a deep appreciation in having someone to share this experience with, who still makes me laugh. We are, without a doubt, moving on and into our future here.

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