Road Trip

As I posted previously, I have come home.   This journey took several days.  While it is a nice trip…just the two of us (plus two very angry cats)…it was ridiculously stressful.  We intended to share the drive, but I just could not wrap my head around towing my car while driving a 16′ truck on a two lane, pothole ridden Highway 40.  I would drive 30 miles per hour and white knuckle the whole way.   We would still be in Oklahoma.

Our journey was planned out, then revamped, then revamped again.  We managed to cover more distance than we expected so our final plan is a work in progress.  Prior to leaving we had to finish loading the truck.   This involved carrying the washer and dryer downstairs.   My engineer son and my electrician/plumber husband took the furniture dolly upstairs and after much clunking, managed to get the washer down.  It was on the dolly wrong and wouldn’t go out the door.   They take it off to turn it and I observed the “furniture” part of the dolly was not lowered.   Wow…that would have made things easier.  And it did for the dryer.

Then came the fridge.   My husband (the plumber/electrician) turned off the water and proceeded to unhook the hose.  Water sprayed everywhere.  My engineer son stood there, mouth agape.  I ran for a bucket.  Bucket one was dumped, bucket two…I climb over them with a wrench and clamp the hose so my husband can reattach it.  That solved the flooding house issue.  Unfortunately, as with many of the homes built at during the “boom” everything was cheaply done and the water could not be turned off there…it had to be done outside.  But that valve was also broken.  We’d have to do it at the street.   The cover was frozen over it…yes, in Arizona…and the tool broke.  We can laugh about that now.  Well, I can laugh about it now.   He’s still a tad sensitive.  

The trip was otherwise rather uneventful once my husband felt more comfortable, but the first day we tried to get gas (and find a Starbuck’s, a luxury that ended after the first “attempt” to maneuver a truck towing a car in icy conditions with cranky cats).  It was a quick lesson on what buttons I cannot push.   A very quick lesson.

But all is well that ends well.   My husband learned the power of coffee as I slept/whined/moaned and groaned for the majority of every morning after day one.  I learned that my husband has an amazing mind and an uncanny knowledge of anything sports.  I learned my cats do not like to travel.  

We arrived home a day earlier than we expected and we were greeted by a lovely, wet snowstorm.  

I started my new job the next week after settling in and am finally getting into my much needed routine.

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Coming Home

After 24 years (almost to the day), I am coming home.  

After my oldest daughter was born, I left my home in search of greener pastures.   I had had enough.   I was tired of what I perceived to be a racially segregated community, the constant non-stop drama involving someone/everyone you knew, and the boredom.  I wanted something more.  

So I moved to Seattle.  What an amazing city that was.  Beautiful beyond words.  And the diversity was overwhelming.   I used to tell my friends that you could “walk naked down the center of the street and not one person would say a word”.  That was completely opposite from living in a town where your momma knew what groceries you bought before you got home to unload them from the car.  I went from constantly visible to invisible.  And I loved it.  Free to do what I want … dress how I want … socialize with whomever I wanted regardless of ethnicity or race.  I spent 16 wonderful years in the Seattle/Everett area.   I had my second daughter there.  I learned to love hiking, camping, became environmental and soci-economically aware, fell in love with espresso.

For family and personal reasons, I decided to move to Arizona in 2007.  I believed myself tired of the rain and constant cloud cover.  I was tired of being alone (invisible) and I wanted to slow things down.  There was “family” here.  This was a difficult move for me because my older daughter stayed behind.  Heart wrenching.  My best friend…my kickboxing family…my Pho lunch companion…my job.  I was older now…it’s not as easy to adjust.   But I believed it was time.   

I have been in Arizona for 7 years and with a few exceptions (friends, community, career), I can’t say that I liked it at all.  Winter was great – 70 degrees in the afternoon – but summers were brutal.   The three months of triple digit heat seemed to stretch on forever.  My youngest hated it, but eventually made friends and ultimately met her husband here and, while she still longs for Washington, she is happy here.   I advanced my career as a paralegal and sought my certification AND advanced certifications.  But nothing slowed down.   Dust, noise and oppressive heat seemed to be my life everyday.   Getting from point A to point B was difficult.   Everything is on a grid.   You can’t go northeast or southwest.   Time…everything took time.  I worked 35 miles from my house and my commute was 1-1/2 hour at least.   I was restless.  I lost everything in Arizona.   My son, my sanity, my finances, my “family”.   Everything seemed dead in Arizona.   Just blowing dust.

So, I am coming home.  To the surprise of many of my friends and family, “home” is not Washington state.   “Home” is south-central Pennsylvania – Chambersburg generally…Fayetteville specifically.  “Home” is the land of Amish buggies, farms, orchards, and two lane highways.   Mom and Pop stores outnumbering the Targets and Walmarts.  “Home” is where time stands still.  Where time has almost stood still for 25 years.  I found myself during these last 24 years.  I found my faith, I found my sanity and I found my heart.   He is, and always has been, home.  

So I am coming home.  Am I scared?   Yes and no.  I have grown to take for granted the conveniences of city life.  The comforts of having anything within reach.  That scares me.  Am I going to be known as the spoiled city girl crazily driving around in search of Starbucks?  But no, I am not really scared to come home.   No one is ever really scared to come home.  Home is, after all, where your heart is…and mine is waiting for me at home in Fayetteville.

Growing up we used to joke that no one ever really escapes Chambersburg.   I now know that to be true.   As a young adult “escape” had a different meaning than it does to a middle aged woman.   “Escape” implied I was trapped and yes, to me…back then…it seemed to be a racially segregated, nose-in-everyone’s-business Podunk town.  But that is not what “escape” meant.  It meant that area, the south-central portion of PA, can never leave your heart and mind.   My mind has been longing for its uniqueness, it’s quietness.  

So I am coming home.

Annual New Year’s Day Visit

Today I made my last semi-annual visit to Ethan’s grave.   It’s quite a long drive to the cemetery but an easy one.  

Visiting the cemetery isn’t just about visiting my son’s grave.   It is also a reminder to me that this is my final resting place…all of us.   No matter our wealth or position in society, we will all return to Allah one day…naked.  Nothing we have materially gained in this world will be of any use to us here.  Visiting Ethan’s grave, and the graves of those who have died before and after him, is a great reminder to start the secular year off on the right foot.   Pray more…be kinder…give in charity (if only just a smile)…because those things follow you from this life to the next.  And as I literally pack my suitcase to leave Arizona, I wish to also pack that imaginary suitcase with good deeds, good thoughts and a clean heart.   I wish to hold no grudges and forgive those who have done me wrong.  Forgiveness and mercy are far better in the eyes of Allah than hatred and revenge.  May Allah accept that from me.  Ameen.

To anyone I may have hurt along the way, I sincerely apologize and pray you will find it in your heart to forgive me as well.   I wish 2015 and the coming years to be full of love and mercy.