You know glitter balls? Those bouncy, water and glitter-filled things that swirl around mesmerisingly when you shake them? Well, that's kind of what the past seven months have been like. Only it'd've been nice if the stuff swirling around us was really glittery and pink-colored. Instead, it's sort of been like a low velocity tornado of situations, happenings, choices, research, uprootings, etc. whirling around us. Want to work on something? Cool. Grab an item from the vortex whirling around you...when you believe you're done with it, just stick it right back in the vortex because it'll still be there later...whirling and waiting.
It began in November last year when our cat took a turn for the worse. After almost a year of cleaning cat vomit off the floors each morning, a round of vet visits, dental work, drugs for IBS, etc. etc., I woke up one morning to find her walking downstairs while leaning against the wall. At the vet later that day I found that she kept falling when she tried to jump off a chair. Shit. Diagnosed blind in one eye with limited vision in the other due to a possible stroke or brain tumor, Bella was a trouper. She managed. Two weeks later I walked upstairs and found her unable to walk. Still a trouper, she was rolling to where she wanted to go. Heartbroken, I spent the night with her on the floor, helped the kids say a beautiful goodbye to her the next morning and took her to her final vet appointment. If you've ever had to make the choice to end an animal's life, you know it is not easy...even if it's the obvious choice.
Thus began our swirling and whirling.
A few weeks later Sascha was notified that the rest of his department would be laid off in December. After four years of survived lay-offs, this shouldn't have been much of a surprise. However, Sascha (being Sascha) had started to seem as if he was untouchable in the workplace...there were times I considered sending him to work with a cape and mask. So, it was a bit of a surprise.
The inevitable list of discussions ensued: Do we try to stay in San Diego? Do we try to move home? Do we try a new state? How much effort and difficulty do we want to put into this? If we leave, where do we start with relocating with two kids, a house we own and one remaining cat?
Of course, Sascha (being Sascha) stumbled across an open position in our old hometown at his company of choice, interviewed, was hired and started work in February. Bam, decision made. I stayed behind with the kids for two months, interviewing moving companies and realtors, selling the house, packing, saying goodbyes, shedding tears and shunting back and forth between two toddler beds all night, when the lack of Daddy became too much.
My blessed, amazing mother came to help but then had to leave because her own mother needed to Go. Mom sat with Grandma through her dying, shook hands and talked with visitors through her funeral and packed up her room at the home. If you've ever had to "close a life", you know it is not easy. Two weeks later she then returned to San Diego, exhausted and heart-worn, to help me. Words cannot describe my gratitude or my knowing of how much this took out of her. And yet, she did it. I'm not surprised because I know I'd do the same for Ally...but still.
Our townhouse in San Diego sold in one day. We found our house of choice in Michigan. But it wasn't on the market anymore. Made an offer anyway. The owners said okay. Sascha visited kindergartens here, entered the lottery for the public charter we wanted for Ari (which is two blocks from our house), Ari was chosen in the lottery. Everything slipped into place as if it were supposed to be. And yet, moving cross-country and transitioning to a new town with two kids and a cat was quite difficult. I can't imagine how hard it would have been if all of the above had been loaded with problems.
So now we're Michiganders again. Shucking corn on our front porch. Going "up north" on the weekends through grizzled traffic. Mosquitoes. Humidity. Old friends. Old house. Trees and green everywhere. Home. We're still working out some growing pains (our kids are still California kids, after all) and there's still sadness and missing our friends, the beach, the dolphins and pelicans, San Diego's unique beauty...but I'd say we're happy here. Our quality of life is definitely better in a smaller town with a slower pace, living in a house with a yard and windows all the way around. It's the right choice for us to be near grandparents again. And there's so much to do in Ann Arbor that it's tough to miss things like the zoo or Sea World.
But still, there is missing and feeling homesick for people and places. Funny how you can detest living somewhere and regret ever moving and then, less than five years later, can miss it and shed tears over your farewell.
It hands you lessons. You learn. You grow. You move ahead with your heart open.