As we approach a year in our new home, I can't help but think "My, how time..........moves at an alarmingly slow pace."
In that the wound/anticipation is still as fresh as it was 51 weeks ago. I'm still painting and re-arranging my house and I'm still comforting my homesick but happy child. I may not get lost quite as much as I used to but I am still the proverbial fish out of water. I have not yet learned how to breathe out of water. And my guess is that, to a certain degree, that may be a permanent condition. I have no hope of ever being anything but a midwesterner on the east coast; I may not be able to change that any more than I can change my height or that sunburn I got in 1987.
I'm becoming accustomed to my observer status. I'm an anthropologist on an unexpected mission, filling my notebooks with discoveries I would never find in the Midwest. And I've learned many things on my sabbatical. Including:
1) Don't out yourself as an outsider by knocking on people's front doors. Find a side door or go in the garage.
2) Actually, don't knock on people's doors at all. Let them come to you. Or call first.
3) No, don't call. Just let them come to you. And smile.
4) Don't close your garage door if you want people to knock on your door. Closed door means not at home and people will leave without knocking.
5) DON'T leave your garage door open when you order pizza (stay with me here) - unless you want pizza delivered via the stinky car place.
6) Don't piss off the school secretary. FOLLOW THE RULES and do as she says.
7) It takes 36 weeks of regular, weekly volunteer gigs to get a "Hello" with eye contact from said school secretary.
8) When it snows, school will be canceled. Arrange a playdate or go to a movie.
9) And the beach, like Lake Harriet, never gets old.
I remember the day I hung my giant write-on/wipe-off calendar in my new house, still scribbled with appointments and dates and arrangements from our life in Minneapolis. I paused before erasing it because it seemed all too symbolic. (Insert "starting fresh" cliche here). But more than starting fresh, it felt like erasing something that was really really really great and everything I wanted. It felt like erasing friends; "Lunch with Kathy," or "Train museum with Carson." Even erasing the doctor and dentist appointments was hard - because I loved my doctor and dentist! It took me years to find a doctor I like! And everyone, I mean EVERYONE knows that Dr. Anderson is the nicest dentist on the planet. No, really. When I say nicest I mean nice-est. As in nicer than anyone you have ever met.
And then the year progresses, and we adjust to a new house, new school, new everything - little by little. But in retrospect, that adjustment is so miniscule it hardly amounts to anything yet. Months later, in the throes of your new life, you bring your winter coat up from the basement, a coat last worn in another place. And you wear that coat just like you did in that other place. And one day, you reach in the pocket and you feel something papery and rectangular and your first thought is "Please don't let this be a reminder of someplace I miss. Please no receipt for a Patina shopping spree or Rice Paper take-out. Please no groceries from Byerly's or Lund's or Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or the Linden Hills Co-op."
Luckily, it's not. And I get in the car and go to my new, much more regular grocery store. And continue to adjust.
As the anniversary of our departure from Minneapolis approaches, I'll re-post some stories from our first few weeks as travelers, homeless people and then newcomers. Perhaps adding some enlightenment that comes from hindsight. I'd love to say we've come a long way, but the baby steps come from a baby with unusually tiny feet.........even for a baby.