| ||Thumbs up for copy and pasting from a Word document when I hit the library. Thumbs down for old news. Pretend you are reading this on June 24th.|
Having no internet is for the birds! In a hundred ways it feels as though my life has come to a grinding halt. Half of those are media issues, I think. Honestly, I’m missing the whole blogosphere and facebook land a little; but by far the worst of it is feeling as though I can’t function in anything. I think of a recipe I want only to realize it’s online. I get ready to scope out the closest town only to realize I can’t google search to see what is around or load google maps to give me even a general lay of the land. I have clients to message and photos to upload and I can’t do any of it. And when I run across the road to use the satellite internet at camp, it is slower than tractors in a mud bog and I can’t even load my email inbox. Which means I can’t even take care of book orders. I can’t pay bills. I can’t pay state taxes. I can’t order bubble wrap. I can’t order anything on Amazon. I think that it will not be long before I am on a first name basis with the local librarians. How did anyone ever live before there was internet? Someone please just tell me the secret to keeping two boys quietly occupied in a library for more than ten minutes at a time.
It’s been nine days since we’ve moved. Those five weeks between signing the lease and heading out with a truck and trailer were the next thing to insane. I flew to Oregon to shoot a wedding the day after we signed. Arrived home Sunday night around 9:30 only to head out the next morning at 7 for families day at camp. The next two weeks I went through every cabinet of the house sorting out things to sell on a massive yard sale. When you get ready to move out of 2600 finished square feet plus about half that much storage, and you know the houses in the area you are moving to average around 1300, you’d better get rid of a lot. We sold our dining room table and chairs, a treadmill, bikes, power toys, and a number of other bigger items on Craigs list. The yard sale was a huge success even if I took a jam-packed van to the donation center afterward. I thought I’d pared down. Then, I started packing. Next time I’ll know to pack first. There are a lot of things you THINK you want to keep until you have packed sixty-seven boxes and suddenly almost everything looks like something you want to throw into a giveaway box!
The last two and half weeks were full of packing and the usual social whirl that happens before you move. I had two family sessions, an engagement session, and then another wedding the weekend before we moved. It was crazy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Doing something I loved did more for keeping my sanity than those extra hours could ever have done. I’d never plan it that way again either, because it was also incredibly exhausting.
People were so, so kind and helped out in so many ways! Friends and family came and packed. My sisters in law kept the boys while I was shooting weddings. People invited us for meals and sent food for times when we were home. My mother in law and two of my sisters in law came on Wednesday so we could clean all the kitchen cabinets, the windows and screens and wash off all the outside porches and decks. My friend, Cynthia, drove over to help me pack Thursday morning. I knew the guys were coming to load at 3 and I was quite sure we wouldn’t be finished by then. But she was a miracle. She’s moved out of state herself and not only did she just know what to do without being told, she was giving me suggestions for all those last minute odds and ends. Did you know you can pack lamps inside of hampers to keep them safe? Me neither. When she left minutes before 3, I was FINISHED except for a few loads of laundry I was still running through. That was one of the nicest things about our move. All the appliances except our chest freezer stayed there so I could wash up every stitch of laundry the day we were moving.
Tons of family and friends came to help load the truck Thursday night and most of them stayed for the pizza party (also sponsored by family and friends, bless them!) afterward. Kristina and Jo stayed afterward to help with floors and Kristina stayed until every square inch of hardwood on both upper floors had been mopped by hand. I was in the basement mopping when my mom showed up to say goodbye. She walked through the upstairs and said, “I was expecting to be depressed by the empty house, but all I can think is how nice it looks.” I said I felt the same way. A beautiful house will still be beautiful when it’s empty. David said, “You mean you came planning to be depressed and you can’t even make it happen? That’s a real problem.”
I washed off the porch again in the 10:30 darkness because the kids had dripped ice cream on it. That night Goldi put a few muddy paw prints on it so David unloaded the hose off the truck and washed it off again at 7 in the morning. The house was absolutely spotless. I grabbed a few paper towels and wiped up any last wet footprints as I backed my way out the kitchen door on my hands and knees. The pile of trash in the backyard was going to be taken care of by David’s brothers over the weekend. I took one last look at the sun streaming through the kitchen window … and then I turned around very quickly and left.
David and the boys had already left with the truck and and a 26 foot trailer. He expected the three hour trip to take five and he had to take a different route to avoid the worst of the mountains. Dwayne was pulling a second flat bed trailer with the chicken coop and chest freezer and Kristina jumped into the van with me for the ride up. It felt surreal really. Not like a last time, but just a long trip. Renting definitely made the goodbye easier.
It took us forever to get to Maryland. For one thing, we stopped to shop at Ross one last time. Then the GPS took us on the western route and brought us up through the sticks of West Virginia. Not kidding. I followed the GPS until the road just stopped in the middle of nowhere. Literally. This was the view in front of us and the road just stopped.
I backed up and on a whim took a right. Within a minute we were face to face with a utility truck. No orange signs of warning. Nothing. Just round a curve and there it is. On my side of the road facing the wrong direction. Hello????????????
We swerved around him and got to a one lane bridge. There was a car coming from the other direction and I was at least as close as he was to being there first. I had no idea what the rules were and I was sporting an attitude from the past three minutes so I stepped on it. He completely ignored the fact that I was in the bridge and kept right on coming. Had I not slammed on the brakes and thrown it into reverse, we’d have smashed in the middle. Still not at all convinced I was on the right route and gasping over the road issues of West Virginia, I came to a bridge that certainly wouldn’t pass code anywhere I’ve lived. Would you check out the lack of guard rails?
It looked like the entrance to a campground. I gingerly pulled across chanting “look straight ahead look straight ahead look straight ahead” till we got up the hill to what I thought was the entrance to a campground. I was sure we were completely lost. “Excuse me,” I said to the lady inside the little booth. “I’m looking for Oldtown and I have no idea how to get there.” She stared at me with the most quizzical look and said, “As soon as you cross the bridge, you are in Oldtown.” And out came the little cup to collect my toll. For real, it’s worth the laugh just to cross there. If there were a seven redneck wonders of the world list, this would be on it.
We still weren’t there, but at least I was back to the route we usually took. We pulled in expecting the guys to be busily unloading and hiding their feelings about our late arrival. Only they weren’t there. When I opened the door of our temporary basement apartment, I could only open it halfway because a man was firmly planted on a ladder right inside the door installing drop ceiling grids. I inched my way in and surveyed the mess. There was construction dirt EVERYWHERE. Foam insulation. Screws. Nails. Paint brush. DIRT. Tools. Guys. Ladders. And right in the middle of what should be the living room were two floor to ceiling stacks of boxes of ceiling tiles.
(after the stack was moved to the edge)
The contrast of what I’d left to be moved into compared to what I was moving into was so enormous there was nothing left to do but laugh. We killed time until the guys left at 4 and then the two chiefs who were around that weekend and Chief Brian’s son, Derrick, came over to help unload. About that time Adam pinched Liam’s fingers in the truck door and from that minute on he refused to detach from my hip. The last few days of packing had been too short on sleep, attention, and patience and I could have nicknamed the boys Obnoxious and Emotional. Bet you can’t guess which was which. This took things to an entirely deeper level. I was embarrassed on one side and feeling sorry for them on the other. They’d been through so much and Liam definitely was not understanding that we weren’t going back to Virginia in a few days or that we’d for sure packed up all his things … he was sure they had simply gone MIA.
I soon saw that my vacuum wasn’t going to cut it so I asked for a shop vac. Adam was supposed to use that to clean up the worst of it ahead of me, but co-operation was not his strong point that day. Meanwhile, the guys moved the huge stacks of ceiling tile boxes from the middle to the edge of the living room. They started carrying in our boxes and I tried to stay ahead of them as much as I could. I felt sorry for them. Instead of almost a dozen guys like there’d been the night before, there were only four of them. We got about halfway through and stopped. The mattresses were in, our clothes were in, and we could at least sleep there. The four girls who were around camp had gone shopping for the afternoon and brought back chicken for everyone so at least I didn’t have to scrounge around for food.
That night David and I cleaned and unpacked. Put sheets on the mattresses on the floor and cleaned and unpacked some more. The next day was just one of those make yourself do the next thing and the next thing. David unloaded some more boxes and I cleaned. And unpacked. And cleaned and unpacked. Mid-afternoon the guys came back and in short order unloaded the boxes that were left. By bedtime that night, we actually had a pretty good semblance of order. But oh, it was so raw. The house is so far from finished. I’ve moved into unfinished houses three times in my life before this, but this is by far the most raw.
We had no overhead lights. No closet shelving. No mirrors. No interior doors (unless you count the one cardboard flap they screwed to the bathroom opening). No phone (and remember there is no cell phone service). No internet. No blinds of any sort on the windows.
Adam started with pink eye the day we moved.
I discovered that if I went outside and found a sweet spot, I could at least text my family and let them know we’d arrived. It’s hilarious. I’ll go outside and start a text only to lose service and walk to the next spot and then about the time it’s sending I have to reach around with my phone again and hold it just right to make it go through.
I combed my hair in the reflection of the car window.
And we survived pretty well. But by the time church was over Sunday morning, my coping skills were completely depleted. David said we’re going to the lake.
On Monday we all went along to take the truck and trailer back to Harrisonburg. Honestly, I’ve never liked that town (purely personal opinion), but that day, Harrisonburg was as inviting as the Caribbean. I gulped in sunlight and warmth and media connection and told my mom I could happily just sit in the parking lot somewhere.
This basement is so dark and so COLD. I can deal with all the other inconveniences, but I cannot change the way my body reacts physiologically to cold and darkness. In two days my brain had gone from June energy to a mid-February glazed fog. In the middle of this triple digit head wave, we have not run air once and even then, it’s cold in here. My toes and fingers are often tingly and the temperature sometimes dips to 68. One night we tried to run heat, but then it froze up the air conditioner on the main floor so we haven’t done that again. It is a weird thing to wear a sweater in June and then to go outside and realize it feels like 103.
But, things improved a lot while we were gone on Monday. Chief James put in a few overhead lights in the living room and our bedroom and tacked the heating ducts up into the ceiling so we wouldn’t crash our heads on them. We have a set of construction lights to plug in for kitchen light and he brought us an old mirror to prop on the bathroom vanity. Best of all, he screwed dry wall to cover the opening leading upstairs so kids can’t just run down and join us and he gave us a cardboard flap for one of our bedroom doors. David hung a bath towel over the upper half of our bedroom window.
That night our landline got set up. By Friday noon, I was pretty sure I’d recovered from all the shocking changes and would be fine. Then we got hit with a huge storm and the power went out. We were planning to go scope out the town on Saturday anyway, but suddenly half the town was shut down. The two grocery stores that were open were local hinky dinks that were dirty and didn’t carry items I needed. When I saw flies buzzing around in the second store I’d had more than I could take and barely made it to the van before I dissolved into tears. I told David it felt like God brought me to camp in a wheelbarrow and dropped me off.
There are a few underlying dynamics I can’t go into, but I’m just going to say, “It’s been a really rough ten days.”
David prayed specifically last night that satan’s power would be broken and that we would be able to believe that God brought us here. He prayed for grace and for courage to stand in truth. And while he prayed, I felt the darkness leaving. The war isn’t over, but one battle has been won. Because of the power outage, the church service we’re expected to attend was canceled and we all attended chapel with the boys. It was the best (and hardest) thing that could have happened. We sang songs about loving when others don’t and songs with ridiculously hard words like, “I don’t have to know the why, just show me the where, “ (OUCH!) and splattered through Chief Andrew’s talk about our conscience, he reminded us that when we are living in truth and doing what is right, we don’t have to worry about what other people say.
I was reading the story of the children of Israel the other day when they grumbled not only about not having meat, but about God leading them out of Egypt in the first place. I used the story for Liam who whines and complains about every single thing right now. But it’s me who needs that story most of all. Not just about the complaining, but even more about believing God in the middle of the wilderness. And to know that when God calls us to near impossible levels of holiness, He always makes it possible. (ie Numbers 6:9) But I also sensed that in spite of my lack of connection, I need to find a way to create a small prayer support group that I can go to for specific prayer requests and for feedback and advice. You can’t give when you are on empty and one of the hardest things about this move has been leaving our church group. Over and over and over again I’ve heard God asking me, “Am I enough?” A few Sundays ago, when we were singing during praise and worship I was thinking of what was coming and the change church would be and I thought I could not say yes. Wasn’t it God who set up church in the first place? But I knew the answer in my head even if I didn’t know it in my heart. And now, to hear God saying I do need a support group …. Helps me to believe that maybe He hasn’t completely dumped me out of the wheelbarrow yet. The ride is just really bumpy.
It’s time to move the generator cord to the kitchen. We invited all the single off-duty staff to come over for supper on Friday before the storm. Power or not, somebody needs to throw some wings on the grill.
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