Friday, June 6, 2014

The Next Big Adventure

We're moving to Alabama. Sam landed a job teaching at a University there.

This one.
The move came as a shock. I hadn't planned on moving back to the South. We'd felt inclined to move all the way out here, from Boston to Arizona, and now we were going to move back across the country? And why, exactly, had we come out here? Nothing has really worked out the way we'd hoped. In fact, many of our ideas for surviving here have outright failed. Sam began to say, "You know when I found that five-leaf clover just before we moved? I'm thinking I found it so I'd know I was already lucky. I wish I'd known I was already lucky."  He also began to suggest we name our next child Equity Dwindle, which is rather a beautiful name, right? (No, I'm not pregnant.) If nothing else, we've learned this year. We've grown up this year. We've enjoyed being close to family. And the two of us have had time to hang with Henrietta constantly for the first two years of her life. And that's worth a lot to us.

Trying out pink headphones on our way there.
Last week we flew to Alabama to find a house. In five days, we looked at a few dozen houses, some of them several times. The very green trees lining the road were a delicious shock after the desert, and the way we felt about the town shifted dramatically every time we looked at a house. After a good house, one in a nice neighborhood with kitchen updates and a garden tub, I looked around and loved everything. After a house which reeked of dog pee and cigarettes, or one whose stair railing came off in my hand when I tried to grab it, or one that Sam said was surely a portal to a demon world, I felt very sad and lost and wanted to go home, wherever that was. 

Trees and the road. 

Henrietta was a trooper. Sam's mom came along, so she often stayed with her grandmother in the car watching shows on my iPad and eating a lollipop. The kid ate a lot of lollipops. But often she'd insist on coming in with us. I could see her in the car from the front porch, her face broken in devastation to be left behind, and her grandmother trying in vain to comfort her. So I'd go back out and extract her from her carseat, and she'd immediately find the door to the backyard and begin running as fast as she could, running and laughing and ignoring the insane heat and humidity, and raising her arms up in the air. Well, raising one arm. The other she kept clutched to her torso, holding her lamb with its head and arms draped over her arm. She learned how to pick bright dandelions, crumbling them in her hand so she held a tangle of wilting flower parts. Once we convinced her back inside the house, she had a knack for finding the empty room we were thinking of for her, the one with the big windows and lots of light. She'd go in and close the door, lie down on the carpet, kicking her legs and talking to herself for minutes on end.

The classic luggage cart game, with Grandma.

I think Alabama is going to be okay. I think it's going to be good. We found a pretty brick house with tall trees in the yard. Our friends from grad school who live and work there had us over for dinner, and they were so kind and delightful. Did I mention there are fireflies there? I've never lived in a place with fireflies.


House

Last night Sam and I stayed up late talking. We had one of those great conversations where everything is going to be new, so you're thinking hard about everything else you'd like to be new. We're going to get responsible with money--for real this time. We're going to each have offices at home, so we're going to work harder. We're going to stop keeping treats in the house. Henrietta is going to watch fewer movies (she loves movies with all of her heart). We're going to take turns going to the cool coffee shop with good writing space. It was dark in our living room here in Tucson, Henrietta finally asleep on my lap, the music from the credits of Tangled playing from the television. As we talked, I looked around at our bookshelves, still heavy with our books and knickknacks that have come along on all of our moves. I could imagine packing them soon. Wrapping them in paper and securing them in a box full of other things wrapped in paper. And I imagined walking around that new house--which I only have a shadowy sort of love for now, since I'm quickly forgetting what it looked like--and learning its walls and doors and corners, trying to decide whether my big white fish looks better on this shelf, or that one. Sam picked up our sleeping Henrietta and talked to her softly as he rested her head on his shoulder and her eyelids fluttered. I walked behind them, turning out lights, glad we'd all go together.

The view from the local State Park, where we decided which house to get.

9 comments:

Genevieve Beck said...

Love this! I'm excited for your family. We are actually heading out to Missouri in mid-July--Michael got the dream job. I totally relate to all of these feelings!

eden said...

excited for you dej! good luck with the move and your new home!

i love those pictures. and i really want to come visit you. (:

Emily said...

Wow. What a big change. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You're so brave.

Amara said...

Good things. Glad there are good things ahead for you all. Love you very much.

belann said...

Although I am not happy at all about you moving so far away, I am happy that things are working out. Hope it is a wonderful chapter of your lives.

belann said...

Although I am not happy at all about you moving so far away, I am happy that things are working out. Hope it is a wonderful chapter of your lives.

Giuli said...

So good to hear from you! I can totally sympathize with your Tucson experience. I cried and cried when both of us lost our jobs in Sierra Vista and asked Heavenly Father, "Why would you send us all of the way across the country (we definitely got a yes answer on that one) for us to be stuck with a house and no jobs in a year and a half?" Sometimes I'm still trying to answer that one. All I can say is that I've learned so many things, even from rough and downright bad experiences. We've grown as a couple, I've had to get used to getting out of my comfort zone, I've learned what really matters to me where my children are concerned, and I've turned into a vagabond restless wanderer. We are planted in Texas now, and I refuse to move, just for my babies' sake. Every decision has pros and cons, and sometimes I believe that you might be good in several different situations. You are writing your own choose your own adventure novel with Henrietta and your sweetheart. The only bummer is that you can't experience the ending, then cheat and go back to the decision that led you to the ending and change your mind. You have to live with the decision and move forward, good or bad. I'm excited for you though! Auburn is lovely, and it is my biased opinion that the south is awesome! Where else will you encounter perfect strangers that want to give your baby "sugar"?

Jenny said...

Sure going to miss you, Deja. It's been a real treat -- one of God's tender mercies, in my opinion -- to have had the pleasure of developing a friendship with you. I'm so grateful for email and blogs and phones which will enable us to keep in touch.

I think one day, when we look back, it will all make sense these different paths and roads we had to travel. The pieces will all make sense. I am so glad your life's road passed through Tucson so I could meet you and learn from you -- such a lovely person.

I know we'll stay in touch! Writers have no excuse. ;)
-Jenny :)

The Weed said...

Hi there! Insomnia has led me to accidentally stumble upon you again (friend Jenni Collier Warner linked to a guest post you'd written elsewhere) almost ten years after being in Kim Johnson's writing workshop with you at BYU. Perhaps you remember. It's so fun to see what you're up to these days! I have the feeling this move is going to bring great things to you and your little fam, for what it's worth. And that house is really awesome. I looks so idyllic there amidst those tall trees--like the perfect home for a writer (or two writers, as the case may be).