Sunday, October 27, 2013

The old falls away and life in a new town begins

A view of our new neighborhood.

A lot has happened in the last two months. We bought a house, and have officially moved out of our last apartment. This is our first experience as home owners! I have been on the go nonstop for the past four weeks, painting, scrubbing, up and down ladders, packing and unpacking, juggling movers and carpet cleaners, walking and biking around the new neighborhood, and entertaining my mother in law for a week at our new place the first week I moved in. Three days ago I took a break and sat down from all that work, and since then I basically haven't been able to get off the couch, LOL. I was running on adrenaline and reserve energy that really wasn't there for the taking for several weeks on end, and when I sat down, my body said: "You is not gonna get back up again soon, Missy." So I have been resting and recouping my energy since then. I have my feet up and I'm resting and enjoying the view out my window. 

View from our front lawn. The paved area is the historic Schuylkill River Rail Trail that runs the whole way to Philadelphia.

The atmosphere around here is vintage and old fashioned, perhaps because trains still run on the local railroad tracks here. The tracks run parallel with our front lawn, which is one reason why I initially liked this house. There's nothing like being transported back in time each time the train rumbles by and the whistle blows. I wondered if the train would wake me in the night, but it doesn't. In the evenings they mute the whistle. In the night, if I'm already awake,  I have to strain my senses and imagination when it goes by to actually realize if it went by or not. It goes by softly like a dream, unrecognizable only if you concentrate on it. Kind of like when you are in the country and you think you hear a train in the distance. But it's so faint you can barely tell if your ears are tricking you or not. I used to have this happen to me all the time. I would hear trains when there were no tracks around for miles. Kind of haunting, actually. But at night the whisper of the train is comforting, actually.
View from our front porch, taken through the living room window.
I was thinking about getting a porch swing to relax on in the evenings and watch the train go by. However, if I was jogging by on the public trail, I would not want some old timer settin' on their porch watching me huff and puff by. We have a side patio that is more private that I'll probably relax on, instead of the porch.
Maggie, on the other hand, has no compulsion about oogling the bikers and runners. She hangs out on the windowsills meowing up a storm when she hears the gravel underfoot of anyone approaching. I think she seriously believes that someone will eventually veer off the path, jog up to the porch to pet her, then continue on their merry way.  
Sunlight dappled rail trail.
I biked the trail once since we moved in. Once we get a dog, I'll walk with her on the trail. The trees haven't really turned colors here yet. Our neighbors Russ and Edith said that we are technically living in the mountains, and as such, it's 5 degrees colder here than in the town. Jaw drop. Where was I when this information was being disseminated? If I had known this, I might not have agreed to the house. Well, perhaps the scenic views will have to make up for this slight meteorological deficiency?
Sunlight drenched, late afternoon railroad crossing, which is a minute walk from our home.
Our new home is an hour and a half away from our family, while the apartment we used to live at was just five minutes away from my parents and most of my brothers and sisters. Karl and I have known for quite some time that we wanted and needed to move quite a distance away. First, Karl recently got a job transfer where he was commuting an hour from where we lived. This opened up the door for us to want to move, if only so Karl's commute wasn't as far. But more importantly than that, we knew we needed to get away from the toxicity of my family.  
I was on the phone with my mom a few weeks ago. I thought it would be a pleasant conversation. No harm in just talking, right? Somehow she managed to swing the conversation around to religion. This happens each time we talk, because she is a good citizen, conscientious and concerned about her daughter's eternal soul. If she didn't doggedly bring up religion each time, she would have a guilty conscious and would be berating herself until our next conversation.
Somehow the conversation zigzagged around my father, and how he was such a good man, a godly example. I said, "What about the way he abused me emotionally and physically?" Suddenly I was crying.
And just as suddenly, my mom morphed into a hard edge razor back. Suddenly, she was in her favorite role as protector of the patriarch. She said, "AJ! That is the devil speaking in you! Resist him. Stop letting the devil live in you and speak through you!" This is the second time she's told me there's a devil in me.
Yet I was speaking from a place of innocence. I was letting the young child in me speak without fear for the first time in her life. I stood up for her and let her say, "That hurt."
I have finally come to realize that being in contact with my family is like banging my head against a concrete wall, hoping the wall will reach out to hug me. It is a futile exercise in insanity. The wall is a wall and will never accept me.
It was helpful to live close to family the last few years because if I needed a ride to a doctor appointment or if I needed something when Karl was at work, I could call a family member. Even though not all outings were approved by the patriarch, some were. Now, however, we will be using a taxi for me when Karl is at work. It's OK. We are stepping out on our own, and if getting away from the toxicity means not having transportation, so be it. It is worth it!
I am glad we have distanced ourselves. Personally, I would rather be living as far away as Florida. But that wasn't in the cards for the present. For now, an hour and a half away is a world away. This is a time of new beginnings. I don't want to drag the past along with us into this new home. I don't want to muddy up the home with memories from long ago. The hurts have taken up too much space and energy in me, and now is a time to let it all go. The past was in my face while I lived back home, but now is a fresh start.
I want to live in the present moment in this new house. Karl and I have decided we aren't having conversations anymore over the dinner table or elsewhere about the family. We are also no longer communicating by phone, email, or social media with the family.   
Fall is a time of letting go of the old. As leaves start to drift off the trees, it feels right to start letting go of things, situations and people who no longer serve us. I know many people go through this stripping process without even knowing they are doing so in harmony with nature. I myself didn't realize this was happening until the other day when I was out on the trail. I was watching the wind whip a thousand crispy leaves up into the air and down, like synchronized confetti. Like they were following the invisible hand motions of a conductor, but in perfect free fall. Twisting, then lifting in wild abandon. Free. And completely, foolishly giddy about it. The leaves were having a blast being wild and free.
And suddenly I realized that I was free too. And I just couldn't wipe the grin off my face knowing so.