Boxes, Bubble Wrap and Packing, Packing, Packing

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve written to this blog, and I very much appreciate all of you who have stuck it out with my posting black out.  This moving stuff is a LOT of work!  The day Marilyn, my real estate agent, told me she was definitely coming over with papers for me to sign, I started pulling from my stash of boxes in the basement and was packing before she even got there.  I knew this could take a bit of time and I sure did not want to leave it until the last minute.  As usual, my desire to avoid stress is paramount, and I decided that the earlier I could start, the better.  What I discovered is that I must be the world’s slowest packer.  My friends were either at work, running businesses, in physical therapy for extreme pain or otherwise engaged.  So I was on my own for the most part.  And yeah – I….am…..s-l-o-w.

What used to be my dining room became box-packing ground zero.  During the course of the following weeks (yes, weeks….), I bought LOTS of tape and bubble wrap, made appeals on Facebook for boxes and newspapers and packed a lot of boxes.  The ZZZWWWIPPPP!! sound of the tape gun could be heard coming from my house at all hours for days on end.  My friend Paulette came a couple of days and brought massive amounts of boxes with her in addition to helping me.  She was a HUGE help!

img_20160927_120743921

But still, it seemed to go on and on and on and one day, the inevitable melt-down reared its ugly head.  By this time, Paulette had done her snow bird thing and was out of the state.  Karen and Jo were working at running their businesses, and Barb and Beth were busy trying to move out of their current residences.  So there I was, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, lonely and pathetic and…… did I say exhausted?  AND singing the old “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms” blues.  I was completely immersed in my pity-party to the point of watershed tears and it was at that point of course, that I called Karen.  I shamelessly begged her to please come over and promised that she didn’t have to pack.  Just plllleeeeeaaase come over and talk to me!  And much to her credit, my dear friend knew just what I needed.  After all these years, Karen knows me like a book.  She knows that when I get involved in a project, I don’t bother to stop to eat, which probably had something to do with my melt-down.  When she showed at the door, my stress level decreased about 150 points just seeing her face.  It’s amazing how people you love can just do that.  But she also brought a surprise – a big container of her own homemade ratatouille.  Ahhhhh!  The girl is an angel for sure!  And so it was that on that evening I was reminded that somebody DID love me and nobody hated me and I did NOT have to eat worms!  My dear sister brought me her love and kindness in her heart and in a container of homemade ratatouille!

Readers, don’t ever forget that there is no better gift than the gift of your time.  Looking into the face of a loved one is a cure for so many ailments, both physical and emotional.  It is a priceless gift that should never be underestimated or taken for granted.  That is the gift Karen brought to me that night.  Oh and some great ratatouille didn’t hurt either!  I love you Karen.  God may have given us separate mothers, but He knew what He was doing when he sat us next to each other in 10th grade Geometry.  We are sisters forever.  And I will always be grateful for that blessing.

Accept and DIVE IN!!

It was late morning when I countered the buyers’ offer and the day went by with no response.  Ugh…..Maybe I should have accepted.  Maybe they changed their minds.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  And then it hit me – just STOP doing this to yourself.  They want the house.  You’ve decided to sell it.  Eventually, you will come to an agreement, it just doesn’t have to be THIS MINUTE.  So I went to Karen’s bait shop in New London, waited on customers, counted sandworms, sold clam necks, and sat out on the back deck a lot soaking in the sun.  And we laughed and talked and passed the time.  By late evening, my anxiety was starting up again and I once again managed to talk myself down.  What will happen, will happen, I decided.  If the buyers walk away, perhaps they weren’t the right buyers.  With that in mind, I passed the hours enjoying my friends and not worrying about what time it was.  And to be honest, I even forgot about the whole thing! Then at 8 pm, the phone rang much to my surprise and there it was – a new offer from my buyers.  This one hit the the magic number I had held in my head and I accepted!

Now comes the reality.  I have to move.  I have to leave my beautiful little home.  I have to leave my sister (by another mother), Karen.  And Jo.  And Barb.  But I HAVE to do this.  For my own happiness.  For my own health.  And hopefully, they will visit me often and we will have phone contact often.  Because I cannot imagine my life without them in it.  I love them.  They are part of me.

Obviously, I don’t know what religious beliefs, if any, my readers may have.  But I feel that if we listen hard enough, God, or the Universe or whatever you feel helps you along in life, speaks to us.  And so it was that night after I went to bed and started reading my latest in a series of historical novels set in Virginia immediately after the conclusion of the Civil War.  The heroines of the book were each trying to blaze new paths using their passions and they were encouraging one another to brave new frontiers.  One remarked to the other:

“My grandmother asked me one time to think about who the happier woman would be – one who braved the storm of life and truly lived, or one who stayed securely on shore and merely existed.  Her words gave me the courage to leave home, but there have been other times I’ve forgotten my answer and decided to stay on shore.  I’ve always regretted not taking risks.  I hope I’ve learned to never do that again, but life can be scary.  It’s easy to want to hunker down where you believe it’s safe”.

Wow!  What the heck?  Was someone talking to ME???  I could not believe that I was reading those words on the very night that I chose to say yes to sell my house!  Yes to leaving my home state.  It was like a gentle push telling me to go ahead and embrace this change.  And then, if that wasn’t enough, came another line that spoke so clearly to me.  Me personally.  Because it described EXACTLY what I had been doing.  It was EXACTLY what had been holding me back.  Because I don’t take anything for granted.  Not the gift of another day.  Not my dear friends.  Not the old 1998 car I still have.  Nothing.  And after having come close to leaving this world twice, I am SOOOOO grateful for everyone and everything I have in my life.  But there it was in black and white – the next line of the book that resonated with me:

“Change is hard for people because they overestimate the value of what they have, and they underestimate the value of what they may gain by changing”.

I had to really think about that sentence.  Overestimate the value of what I have?  No way!  That sounded down right ungrateful!  Until you look at the entire sentence that is.  Basically, it was saying to me that I was committing a transgression other than the offense of being ungrateful.  It was the crime of not fully embracing the life that had been so mercifully given back to me.  Twice.  First after I broke my neck in 2010 and again after I survived peritonitis last year.  OK God, I am listening to what You have to say to me.  I know there was no coincidence that I saw these lines on THE SAME NIGHT I shakily agreed to sell my beloved home and move 1,322 miles away.  I’m going to stop underestimating the value of what is out there ready for me to gain because that in itself would be ungrateful.  So here I go!  Ready, set, DIVE IN!

And the motivation is….

Connecticut is a lovely state and I am fortunate to live on beautiful Long Island Sound.  Living close to the beach is not only a wonder in itself, it is also a weather moderator for us.  In the summer, the cool breezes from the water make hot days bearable.  While people ten miles away are getting snow in the winter, it is often raining at my house.  Big plus here – You don’t have to shovel rain.  On the flip side, while we get less snow, winter doesn’t move on as quickly as I would like.  It is often still chilly into May.  Way too far into May…..  I distinctly recall wearing a wool suit to work in late May one year.  And in May of 2005, I had friends from Florida come to visit on May 15.  They were horrified to see not one leaf on the trees and swore they’d never come back! No, its not normal, but it happens.

Presently, I live approximately 2 miles away from the town in which I was born, grew up, got married, got divorced, bought a home and had spent my 35-year career.  I have had the same doctors, dentists, attorney, and veterinarian forever. (That veterinarian, Jo,  is also one of my best friends).  I have worked for two of the area’s largest 3 or 4 employers.  Many of my high school buddies still live in this area and I see them more than one might think.  It is rare that I can go somewhere and not run into someone I know.  I am, therefore, a typical New Englander, at least as far as the change issue is concerned.  I read somewhere once that New Englanders are the least likely people in the country to relocate.  We generally don’t venture out too far from home base for long.  We measure driving distances in time, not miles.  Visiting a friend who lives 45 minutes away is akin to taking an overnight trip somewhere – it takes a lot of planning.  I thought perhaps it was just us older folks who are like this, but yesterday, my 20 something dental hygienist told me that she could not talk her friends into visiting her college friends in Maine.  Don’t get me wrong – we do travel.  It’s just that people in other parts of the country seem to be more …well….spontaneous about their excursions.  I’m not sure what it is about us.

I have never liked being cold, but in 2010, I broke my neck and now live with a permanent spinal cord injury.  While I am able to walk and breathe on my own (which I came very close to NOT being able to do!), my fingers, hands and arms are hypersensitive to cold.  Emotional stress and inactivity also leads to burning pain.

So it has occurred to me that CT winters aren’t going to get any warmer.  And I’m not getting any younger.  At the moment, I own a house with a large yard.  In that large yard, I went a little crazy with flower gardening.  Oh my…what an understatement.  More than one visitor has described it as looking like a park.  Such a lovely compliment, but taking care of this “park” used to be a lot easier.  You know…back when I was you…..youn…..Um…a few years back.  Also, I am retired now and so I’m a bit lonelier since I no longer have forced interactions (called a job) any longer.  Yes, I thought about volunteering and I know I would be a tremendous help to some organization, but when it is cold, I just have such a hard time going outside.  I am afraid that it would just be too easy for me to convince myself that I really don’t NEED to leave and go out into the cold.  And that just wouldn’t be fair either to the organization or to myself.  There’s also the matter of being with people of your age, background and interests.  During the week, most of my neighbors are out working.  Yes, I do have other retired friends, but I really want to DO something more.  To be a part of something.  To work toward something that matters and helps others ALL the time and not just when it is warm outside.  BUT if I move to a warm place, well, that problem of me burrowing deeper under the covers in January and February (and March…and April….and….well, you get the idea) just melts away.  Stay tuned!