Monday, July 31, 2006

Dirty Little Secret #18

I am overwhelmed.

The past five weeks have seen us through two moving trucks, two hotel rooms, two weeks of vacation, two weeks in our new home before taking our first road trip, and two thousand miles driven by car.

I am overwhelmed by how hard it was to leave Minnesota - the place I never wanted to live. I am overwhelmed by how it feels, already, that it was only a dream.

I am overwhelmed by how well our children have handled this transition. Frankly, they're putting me to shame. I have thrown more temper tantrums than they have, by far.

I am overwhelmed by how little I feel at home, here in the city where I grew up. Neighbors keep asking if I know where to find everything. I know where everything is, I just don't know how I got here. I am no longer the girl with the broken heart who left here nine years ago. I am no longer the girl who cried over the high school musical. What worries me is that she's still here, somewhere. I would like to avoid being that person, again, at all costs.

I am overwhelmed by how uncomfortable I am in our giant, expensive new house. One-hundred-year-old dirt, as it turns out, is difficult to clean. While the previous owners of this home were lovely people who set about restoring the house to its former glory, they didn't so much mind a little grime. I do. While I stomp around complaning about inch thick dust on top of all the window frames, my husband follows me, proclaiming, "Our last house was always dirty. You never minded then!"

I was overwhelmed this past weekend when we loaded up my mother's mini-van and hauled Liz and Ted to New York for my sister-in-law's baby shower. She lives on Long Island, a now short four hundred miles from our new home. To add insult to injury, when the city rose glittering in front of me, I cried. I cried because, here, in traffic, on bridges, faced with millions of people crammed in small spaces, I felt home.

We slogged our way through school, birth, financial peril, and time spent eating at the Olive Garden in the wilds of Minnesota with our eyes on only one prize: Upstate New York. Where we could buy a big house for less than a studio apartment in Manhattan. Where we could send our children to public schools. Where we would be near family.

And here we are. I wonder if we had stayed in Minnesota if it might have been easier. Dirk's fellowship would have lead to a job at the same large and important hospital where he did his training. His salary would have increased, but we would have stayed in our starter home. Our yard and cul-de-sac would still be an extension of our house. Our neighbors would still be like family. Liz and Ted would still have friends and Tuesday playdates.

But now my house is too big; I can't keep it clean and I keep losing the kids. But now I am happy neither here, nor there. This is my hometown, but it is not yet my home. The city called my name, this weekend, as if maybe that was the mistake I'd made. Why couldn't we raise our children in a 1000 square foot three bed and take the dog for walks six times a day? Why couldn't they grow up knowing that the most wonderful smell in the world was diesel mixed with Central Park mixed with the slightest hint of the ocean? Why couldn't they learn to love the feel of their feet in their shoes on the hot pavement?

Well, for the same reason why we didn't stay in Minnesota. Because everything I've written here in the past still stands. I want to be closer to family. I don't want to raise jaded children. I want our family to finally know peace when it comes time to pay the bills. I am home. The truth is that I am only overwhelmed.


bubandpie said...

"Our last house was always dirty. You never minded then!"

LOL. Husbands can be so helpful and understanding, can't they?

I always hate times of transition - you have to settle into new routines, new ways of coping. Then it gets better.

Sandy said...

I completely understand how you feel about home...When I travel to Duluth, I constantly think to myself that I could never move back. I think it's because I'm afraid I'll regress to that little girl I was when I left 8 years ago. But even though I feel this way, I still get chills every time we drive over Thompson Hill and see Lake Superior, I still feel extremely homesick when we leave, and I get a huge lump in my throat when my brother tells me about their little weekend get togethers with the rest of the family...
The truth is, Kurt's job keeps us here in Rochester, and I'm really not sure what we'd do if we were given the chance to move back.

lynsalyns said...

You're gonna be fine. Wish I could stay.

And FYI, you might run into old self, but you won't become her. It took me years to get to that place but you'll get there, too.

Lunch was fun. Can't wait for dinner. Wish it didn't have to end so soon.

Kara said...

Karen-- There is light at the end of the tunnel. You are such a strong woman! Being overwhelmed and temper tantrums are all part of life, even for us awesome moms. Day by day, my friend. Day by day.

blair said...

I just love ya. If you need to call and vent - or email and vent - or not call and know I still love ya - there it is. Try to find joy in the nooks and crannies. Take some time for you - find some NEW things that you don't know about. Explore and get pampered.

Your new mantra: Change is GOOD! (even though it hurts)

Your brother is having a baby? Wow.

macboudica said...

I can see how it is overwhelming. There is a loss of control that comes in an unfamiliar territory, setting, home. But in time, you will settle in. That place will be yours. It will soon fill with new memories. Soon, when you look around the living room, you won't just see the 100 year old dust bunnies, you will see also the Cristmas tree, dinner party, birthday presents, wrapping paper crumpled in heaps, kids laughing and crying--memories of faces of families and friends you have shared your time and life with there--then it will be yours--your home. And it will feel right. It will just take a little time.

Becky said...

I'm sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed! This too shall pass. I wish you all the best.

mothergoosemouse said...

Wow. I hope the chaos has settled a bit.