Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weathering the whethers

"If we turn and face it, the wind will come around,
Don't have to chase it when it blows."

The weather has been weighty, damp and gray, a perfect match for my mood.

I'm trying to shake it off. My mood that is, not the weather. All I can do about the weather is to weather it.

Really, I should embrace this weather. It's cool for mid-May and that is a good thing, especially since the tools of my trade, torch and kiln, are in my garage studio, at the mercy of the elements.

If it were sunny and bright, I might well be berating the relentless heat and the prospect of the many months of summer ahead, day after day of coping with temperatures in the 90s and relative humidity in the 90th percentile.

I have as little reason to feel heavy or damp or gray about my life as I do about the weather. Several things that were stressors, things that were hovering in limbo-land, a place of discomfort for me, are shaking out.

Kandace and her boyfriend are moving forward with a plan to live together in a way that makes sense to me. He is going to move in to her house and they are going to make that work until they save enough to buy a house together. This is by far the best of the scenarios they kicked around, which included moving into an apartment together. If they aren't ready to make the leap to marriage and joint home ownership yet, I'm glad she isn't giving up her home until the future comes into better focus.

Chelsea and her boyfriend are not moving forward with a plan to move to California and that also makes sense to me, since the plan was never fully baked. Quitting jobs and packing up and heading for LA, without a soft place to land, like a home or a job, seemed nonsensical. At least for now, the move is tabled and they will stay in Austin, where they seem to be thriving, with jobs they like and friends and creative outlets and an affordable roof over their heads.

Laurie and her husband will be having their first child, our second grandchild, in December. She had a miscarriage earlier this year, but all the signs look good this time, and I'm looking forward to cuddling a wee one again. Chris will be moving in with them this summer and starting a master's degree program to become a registered dietician.

So all four kids are out of limbo for the moment. I'm not naive enough to think that this is a static state, the game is long and there will be decision points and changes and uncertainties and milestones ahead. But for now, everyone is on some track and each train is chugging along steadily.

The biggest things left in limbo are whether, when and how Neil will retire and if, when and where we will move after he does. I don't see any perfect options for the latter, except that it feels pretty inevitable. Given that, I'd like to know where we are going to wind up. Now that our kids are sinking their roots slightly deeper into Texas soil - technically Texas and Louisiana, but Laurie, Luke and Chris will almost surely be back with a couple of years - I wish more than ever that we could find a happy solution closer than North Carolina. Austin remains the front-runner backup plan, but Neil won't be happy there, not unless we try a different adventure first and find out it's not all that and a bag of chips.

He's convinced that the new grandchild won't change the way he feels about Texas versus North Carolina. I'm conflicted about whether I want it to. There's a part of me that feels like if we can't live close to all the grandchildren (so far, that's Ryland and the little blueberry in Laurie's belly) then it might be better to live equally far away from all of them. I've grown sincerely, truly fond of my stepchildren. But I ache for my children. Every day, always.

And I love my house. True, it's not adequately energy efficient and there is no place for a proper studio. Moving would force me to go through and winnow down all the stuff I've accumulated that oppresses me when I think about it. For Neil, there's the threat of hurricances for 6 months out of 12, but I don't factor that in with much weight. We won't save money as we are almost certain to build a bigger, pricier house. If you are going to live farther away, you need lots of guest space.

The idea of setting up my life again, everything from doctors, dentists and veterinarians to hairdressers, housekeepers and lawn maintenance crews, is unpalatable if not overwhelming. I wouldn't say we have a lot of friends or a very active social life here, but we have some friends and more than nothing of a social life. It's all doable, but it's definitely going to be a lot harder than just staying put.

Maybe it's what I need and I just don't know it. I'm not so old and set in my ways yet that being forced out of my comfort zone might not be a good thing.

Bottom line, I'm willing to get with the new program, whatever it is. I'd just like to know what it is, and when we can start. Because we can't arrive at a new normal until we set forth.

Obviously I have too much time to overthink this the way I'm doing.

Maybe I'm just having a Monday after the weekend before letdown.

We did have a fun weekend. We left on Thursday night to drive to Lake Charles to visit Laurie and Luke. We stopped at Goode Company Taqueria on the way, because by the time we left I was already getting hungry. We drove through rain until just past Baytown, where the roads became dry and the drive uneventful. We got past the excited dog greeting, talked for a while and went to bed.

On Friday we had lunch at Newk's and went to paint ceramics at Art's Desire, which has become a Lake Chuck tradition for us.

I got to paint a new shelf elf for Neil because I accidentally broke the one Laurie had made him. I finished first and spent time talking to Raejean, the owner, artist to artist you might say. We really clicked. There's just something about the chemistry that happens when two creatives start talking shop and collaborative ideas flow. I bought a couple of her small ceramic pieces, inspired to make jewelry with them, and I promised to bring a box of my beads the next time we're in town.

We went back to the house and played Quirkle and I came in second to Neil by one point. Then we tried to go to dinner at Walk-Ons but the wait was too long so we went to Rotolo's. I tried really hard to make sensible choices, soup, half sandwich, soup, salad, gelato. Food always becomes an issue for me when we visit kids.

On Saturday, before we headed home, we had lunch at the Blue Dog Cafe. A lunch portion of crawfish enchiladas with dirty rice and corn maque choux was still too much, but wouldn't have been so bad if construction detours and flooding rain hadn't turned a 3-hour trip into a 5-hour ordeal. We wound up stopping near the Galleria to let the rain abate a bit and you could not have interested me in coffee, a scone or a jamba juice smoothie, let alone dinner. We finally made it home and I had a couple of oreos and called it a night.

Sunday afternooon was my glass group meeting and Sunday night we were invited to dinner with a group of Neil's fellow team leads from work. It was raining hard again and I was longing to stay home but the party was still on and it turned out to be a little more fun than I expected. Sometimes at gatherings like this one, where not only almost everyone is a rocket scientist but their spouse is a neurosurgeon, I feel horribly under-accomplished, but this time I felt really comfortable in my English-major artistic skin.

Maybe I've gotten to a point of self-acceptance, even pride, about who I am and what I do. Maybe I just don't give a fig anymore about what people I barely know think.

Whichever it is, I'll take it.

Why yes, that's me, playing with the granddog, Riggs.
We call this game "Dog Mop."

The wind is blowing from a new direction
You're thinking 'bout going, I know
It's been a long season and hard on our affections
But that's no reason to let go

You change just like the weather
But the weather, you know, will always change
If you stay, it'll get better
Wherever you go, it's bound to rain

So put on your jacket and stand your ground
Love's gonna have its highs and lows
If we turn and face it, the wind will come around
Don't have to chase it when it blows

You change just like the weather
But the weather, you know, will always change
If you stay, it'll get better
Wherever you go, it's bound to rain.

(Suzy Bogguss, Doug Crider)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz