Moving on, yet again

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe you haven’t, but the daughter and I have moved around a lot these last few years.  It’s happening again; our fifth move in three years and I’m terribly conflicted.

Part of my really really really wants to go back to Portland, to the city I know and love with restaurants I enjoy, cheap movie theaters, the big ol’ downtown library, friends who have made me feel loved and my son, yes, I’ll be near my son again. {Really near, in fact, like living under the same roof again.}

People joke about how your kids will grow up, move out and then move back in again when they realize they can’t afford to live on their own. Ours just happens to be the opposite situation where Mom realized she can’t afford to live on her own.

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Wait, that’s not where this was supposed to go… So I am glad to be going home to the Pacific Northwest, full of clean air and forests and rivers.  My lungs will be happy, too. They are the reason I finally said Yes, I’ll go back. I’ll give up the job I enjoy at a wonderful company. I’ll give up the sunshine and warm air if I can just breathe again without hurting. If my daughter and I can go a whole month without either of us being sick, I’ll take the rain. I will. 

You see, it’s been months of breathing problems and I’m not willing to let it become years. The daughter has missed weeks of school with all the illnesses, all of them validated by my own eyes. The girl has been sicker than I’ve ever seen her; both of us have been bedridden for days with coughs, fevers, vomiting and, the ever-popular, general malaise.  And on more than one occasion.

My lungs hurt to breathe in deeply. I avoid laughing because it’ll make me cough uncontrollably, gasping for air. Walking up the stairs to our second-story apartment makes me wheeze. I can feel the difference in my lungs if the air is being re-circulated in the car or being brought in fresh.

It’s bad, uncomfortable, painful, disappointing. It totally sucks.

In four weeks, I’m packing up a UHaul and heading north again. Away from sunshine and blue skies. Away from smog so thick it hides the mountains.

In ways, I’m so very very glad. Like I said, I’ll be near friends and family and a city I know and love. But there is an overwhelming guilt about moving yet again. I’d planned to stay for the rest of my daughter’s high school years. Stay here until she graduated. I had the best intentions and instead I’m asking her gently to please at least think about packing. Again. Please do this for my health and for your own. Asking your child to sacrifice, knowing they’ve already had to sacrifice so much to follow your hopes and dreams to SoCal, is so much harder than I want it to be. I want her with me. I want her healthy. I want her to be happy.  It just doesn’t seem like there is one place that can do it all.

The push-and-pull between all the things I want and need and all the thing she wants and needs is tough and the answers aren’t easy. Each time I’ve moved us, I though it was for the best…a place of our own, an extended family, away from the relationship drama, to a good job, back to healthy air… but it’s yet to work out as I had so earnestly hoped.

Nonetheless, here we go again. Packing for another move, another adventure. Another notch in the belt and another reason to be angry.

Christmas in SoCal

This was a weird Christmas for us: the first when our trio wasn’t together and our first as a duo in Southern California. So we did something new and different.

I’m lucky enough to have my sister live just down the street, so on Christmas Eve, we went to her (bigger and nicer) home and made goodies together. I used my trusty old Good Housekeeping cookbook for the ginger snaps and the recipe Grandma Coates used every Christmas to make butterhorns. 20131227-194426.jpg

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Making the move.

Sometimes I need a good swift kick in the pants and now seems to be one of those times. To be honest, I’ve had a somewhat rough go of it the last eight months, wondering just what the point was if I couldn’t have the things that made me happy. Then I saw this on Instagram and clung to it:
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I knew what wasn’t making me happy but wasn’t quite sure what would. I re-started the Sewing for Orphans campaign and got some sponsors, made more dresses, cheered on other sewists and sent more clothes. That whole project can only make me smile, really, so it is a great thing for me to do and I’m just gonna keep on doing it as long as there are orphans to clothe and I can get the help to ship the dresses, shorts, tees and more to them.

But I needed more. A good shake-up at life. So with a little impetus, I decided to move to southern California to be near my little sister. The whole thing took about a month to figure out and then it was a done deal.

I asked my dad to fix up my little car enough to get us there. Instead he found me a new(er) car and loaned me the money to get it now.

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The little white Escort, affectionately known as Ooben thanks to its license plate, has gotten me through a lot over the past nine years, but it was time to retire. So now I have this cute little silver Focus. Totally basic, but I love it.

Then I quit my job at the trade magazine and instead spend the next week teaching these sweethearts to sew in the morning …

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and packing everything I own into a storage unit in the evening …

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By the time I closed up the storage unit yesterday morning, there wasn’t an inch to spare. It’s stacked high and all the way to the door.And there was still stuff I couldn’t fit in–my desk, our TV, dressers, couch. We’ll be replacing all of it except the TV, which we managed to fit into the back of our car. 🙂

Then we hit the road, my daughter and I, for a three-day drive to Los Angeles, first along the Oregon Coast, through Sacramento and down I-5 until we reach my sister’s home sometime on Saturday evening.

20130628-071238.jpgIt’s an adventure and it makes me hopeful and happy.

 

Day Eight: Los Angeles or Bust

Odometer Reading: 1025

I’d hoped to take the Pacific Coast Highway down to my sister’s, but after talking to Uncle Dennis and my brother-in-law Will, they convinced me that it was foolhardy to think we could make it down there in one day. It would slow-going and expensive, two things I didn’t really want. So, instead, we rose early and got back onto my least favorite highway: I-5.

Eight hours later, we rolled into Los Angeles swarming with people and pollution. Just being in LA makes me a little insane and I’m sure the kids were completely baffled by the dramatic rise in my stress level, but the highways just mix and mingle and get all backed up and I feel like I might just lose my mind. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I’m the driver; I didn’t stress out in Bangkok, Hanoi, Boston or New York City, but I never had to drive there. In LA, I really feel like I’m gonna blow my top. Music turns off. Kids keep quiet and my knuckles turn white on the steering wheel.

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Day Seven: Sardines and San Juan Bautista

Odometer Reading: 878

Moving everything up a day, we decided that we’d visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium while staying in Gilroy since it was close enough and besides, then we wouldn’t have to pull out all that camping gear yet again. So, for an hour I bugged the kids to get up and at ’em, hoping they’d be a tad more excited about seeing what is supposed to be one of the world’s best aquariums. We managed to get out on time, though and headed further west to the ocean.

California beaches aren't what they're said to be

Unfortunately as we reached the shore, there was nothing great to be said about it. It looked remarkably like an Oregon beach: cool, grey, cloudy and it stank. Luckily, we weren’t going for a day of sunbathing, we were there for the aquarium, but it sure would have been nice to see the supposedly-beautiful California beaches that people ramble on about.

Pictures after the jump
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Day Five: Day of Rest

After not getting to bed until after 11 p.m. and having spent the entire day either walking or screaming, we were all exhausted. I couldn’t even bear to wake the kids and let them rouse on their own schedules. By 11 a.m. everyone was awake again.

It was also nearly 100°F outside. Somehow we’ve landed in Sacramento during their first real extended heat wave. Awesome.

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Day Four: Screaming is Fun

When I was just barely six years old we moved from Sacramento, CA (near my father’s family) to Newberg, OR (to be near my mother’s family). I don’t know how soon it started, but it became a tradition that nearly every summer, I would go down to Sacramento–first with just Marcella, then when Stephanie was old enough, the three of us–to stay with Grandma. We’d visit Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Carl. We’d go stay with Aunt Diana for a few days. And they would take us places: parks, the Sacto zoo, Disneyland once and several times we went to Marriott’s Great America.

Aunt Diana and the kiddos

Back then it was owned by Marriott, the hotel chain, but after several name/owner changes, it is now called California’s Great America. I have some fond memories of riding the rollercoasters and the freefall ride, the carousel that greets visitors and being there with family. So, when my Aunt Diana, who was hosting us in Sacramento, asked whether we’d like to go to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom or Great America, the decision was easy for me. We all went to Six Flags on our last big California trip in 2002 and there was something nostalgically wonderful about Aunt Diana taking another generation, my kiddos, to the same park we’d enjoyed twenty years ago.

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Day Three: Leaving the Desert

Odometer Reading: 367

As soon as the sunshine slipped through the trees, I got up, rolling my sleeping bag and getting the kids to walk up and do the same. I had hoped that the chill of the morning would keep the mosquitoes at bay for a while, but, again, as soon as I opened the trunk with all our bags of clothes, they were all over me. So, while the kids did their things, I got the food back into the car, then their sleeping bags as they ran for the safety of the car. Stuart and I broke down the tents, not bothering to clean them off or even get them into their cases. We just shoved them into the trunk; I’d take care of them when we hit Sacramento.

Lily at the roadside breakfast; Scoop Away=portable kitchen

Still dressed in their pajamas, we left Crater Lake National Park and drove south toward Klamath Falls. Along the way we passed long and shallow Klamath Lake. According to our Only in Oregon book, it’s more than 20 miles long and 8 miles wide. Somewhere past the lake and past the city proper, we pulled off onto a side road for breakfast. There, in the gravel, we pulled out our kitchen box and the ice chest. The kids ate cereal and I prepared another round of hot cocoa on the propane burner. It was all fine, despite Audrey’s worrying that we’d get in trouble. In fact, the electric company guys waved as they drove by. As we ate, falcons flew above us to their nest.

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