Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Rhythms and Landmarks, or The Smell of Home


Yesterday the sun came out, catching the waves with blinding wrinkles. Six windmills atop the local mountain stood still, and we even noticed the faint presence of bugs--a rarity in a place with almost constant wind. 

Curtis was off for the day and the three of us ventured out to walk downtown, perusing old shops he remember from his childhood and new shops that weren't familiar at all. It is an interesting experience to revisit the place of your childhood when you have been gone for over a decade. Sure, we have visited many times and spent many weeks here over the course of the last several years. Visits don't reveal the intricacies that have changed, details that reveal themselves over time.

I find myself in this inbetween state these days, not a stranger to the island and yet far from a local. When I am referred to a shop or a destination, I can often picture the locations, yet I'm not sure how to get there. And this is where I have noticed an interesting trend: many locals have no idea what any of the street names are. They don't need to. The library is across from the fire station and next to the hardware store. The trail head is next to the Nazarene church around the corner from the veteran's building. 

While I learn the lay of the land in a new place, Curtis learns a new rhythm for a new job. To finally be free of having to check all your work with a superior can be as terrifying as it is freeing, and when this solo decision making is made in front of acquaintances and friends, the stakes can feel even higher. 

Today in the midst of a lull of the afternoon baby and I sat out in the fresh air and sunshine, the salty, fishy smell of the sea crisp and clear. "This is the smell of home," I whispered in her ear. And so we continue to settle in, learning the offerings of the local businesses, the locations of landmarks, and collecting the ripest salmonberries as we wander our way. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No Longer a Visitor, Not Quite a Resident



When we finally pulled off the ferry, it was 12:04am, the close of a very long day of travel--our last since we'd packed up our boxes over a month before. The baby was asleep in the back, our bag of snacks significantly depleted, wrappers and diapers and hair ties and sweatshirts strewn about the car wherever they fit. In the midst of long term travel there is organization and chaos that ebb and flow in unpredictable ways. At 12:04am, all that mattered was sleep.

Three days later the sun that we have basked in for most of the summer has turned to rain. The sideways sheets seemed light when I first went out for a run, but when I came in a half hour later the water was dripping off the bill of my cap and the edges of my sleeves. I was soaked, but I was home.

Living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time can be freeing in some ways, minimizing choices, offering the option to up and go whenever and wherever you please. Right now, all we have fits in a vehicle: a few suitcases, a stroller, a car seat and a couple backpacks. And while we count on the generosity of parents and friends to supply necessities like beds and kitchens, I can't help but wonder how I'll greet the onset of "stuff" when we inevitably have a place of our own. 

I haven't lived in one house for longer than three years since I was in elementary school. And though I have found myself jealous at times of friends who lived in the same house their whole life, I also appreciate the time to clean out and start new, purging the excess and living out of a suitcase for a couple months. 

For now, we're settling in, figuring out what it looks like to live in this place where I have only ever been a visitor, looking for friends and activities and the pieces that will make up this new life. And in that way moving doesn't only just clear the closets, it wipes a schedule clean as well.

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This afternoon baby girl and I went to the library, and I filled out the requisite information for a temporary card. Then I perused the aisles, car seat in hand, looking for my one allowed item to check out for the day. The selection was meager, about what is expected for a small town, island library, the quiet broken periodically as the librarian announced computer openings to the waiting patrons. Outside the rain came down sideways, wind whipping against bright colored rain coats and hardened faces. 

When we got home the house creaked with the gusts of winds, the white caps rolling on the ocean inlet, the boats coming in and out of the harbor rolling with the heaves. My five month old baby lay on the carpet, skin washed out by the grey light, thighs think and creased, eyes fixed on my every move and sound. She alternates between strict focus and playful giggles as she makes sense of my voices, my expressions. 

I have a feeling I will look back on this time with a nostalgic glow, not remembering the awkwardness of having not enough long sleeved shirts, or a baby growing out of her clothes before we get the next size out of storage, or a town that seems to know my story before I even know a first name. This holding pattern that we are in is as awkward as it is freeing, and is unique in its own way. For now I seek to embrace it all: the unorganized chaos, the small town that is a bit of a stranger, the baby that loves to be near me all the time.

Soon enough, it will all be a memory.

Ferry nap time was a bit of a challenge: who wants to sleep when your parents are right there?!