I have difficulty sitting still.
Or keeping my brain still.
Or not daydreaming about "the next big step" in my life.
What-ifs and shoulda-couldas abound in my daily thoughts. Melancholy can set in and smolder for hours or days or even weeks with such great tinder. It can even blaze up at the most inopportune moments, usually aimed at a child or a partner or a pet. Often with deep accuracy.
So it with that history in mind that I write to myself, mostly, but all of you as well... about staying rooted. Rooted to place, to personal history, to choices long since made.
The tamaracks here have finally exhausted their deep orange blaze of late autumn, leaving a pale brownish-orange in their place. The last color in the woods consists of the deep reddish oak leaves on the warmer hills, and the orangey-brown persistent leaves of the beech. Want to know if you harbor bear habitat in Northern VT? Walk around in early October, looking for large beech stands.
Why the change of subject? Just that with this understanding of the place around me, however new it feels (there are stands of oak in the more southerly parts of Calais, not so much in Craftsbury), creates a sense of place, a sense of timing, an understanding of where I have chosen to be and live.
I spoke with a good friend recently about those choices. We waxed poetic about our lifestyles, and yet, by the end of the conversation, both had tears glistening about the fact that we chose a harder life than we might've. We chose to do without, chose to live in places where work and education can be hard to pursue, especially for mothers. We chose to live 25 minutes from the nearest grocery store, and to have to choose between grocery-store crap, or not having enough funding to get through the month if we head to the co-op. We chose to live where it is cold and hard to heat one's home, where you need two, abundant, distinct sets of clothing for the cold part of the year and the warm. Where roads beat the shit out of cars, even when you can afford to care for them. Where communities can feel simultaneously inviting and isolating. Where schools are small, choices for education limited, and frustration can run deep.
Life in a condo never sounded better.
But then, life in a condo doesn't allow for different choices. My parents have to watch as the hired "landscaping" company dumps tons of un-needed nitrogen based fertilizer all around their end unit condo, watching it flow into the crappy, weird looking pond with no riparian zone, where it results in huge algal blooms. Those, in turn, attract geese. They poop. They are a nuisance. Then someone must be hired to chase them off the pond. And once a year, the pond must be "shocked" as if it is some weird sort of swimming pool (except that no one is ever allowed to do that ). I won't even get into how close this ridiculous cycle is to a local salmon and trout stream, and an estuary for Lake Ontario. Common sense never plays into how this could be handled. And my parents have to make their opinion known, do the best they can to get common sense into the equation, then watch as the procedures happen all over again. (Not that it isn't fun to watch the dude in the kayak with the dog chase geese).
But here, I watch life turn more slowly. Just to the south of us, in Montpelier, life speeds up... with a touch of self-righteous glam in certain circles. That is alright, and it is still fun to have a "night out on the town" for date night once in awhile. But really, the glow of a city is still the rat race-y cycle of life I can live without. And it isn't nearly as diverse or interesting as a big city.
So recently, I have found myself engaging with people and places closer to Craftsbury and the home that we built for ourselves there. But I know in the long run, I have to accept that we are also building a community here in Calais. We're not so far apart, and many of the people we've know over the last 8 or so years, appear in the periphery of our life here, fading in and out as we build a circle of friends here. Part of learning to live life to it's fullest is to understand your place, where you are, what your life is like, and what direction it is heading. Like simultaneously paddling the boat, without ever leaving the pond.
In a moment of sheer panic this fall about my life: career, education, what-have-you... I freaked and applied for a million jobs. I even got offered some. But in the end, most didn't pay enough for me to take them, or even to pay for childcare, and I regrettably had to turn down even a dream job. I made the final decision today.
But in all of that, I also put the "old" childcare center into my routine again. It felt very much like coming home. And like, somehow, I was not the kid I had been when I was there before...
Before I longed to jump in with both feet, as if rather than getting wet, I could walk on water... skate across the issues and daily struggles any place has. Ambition, maybe. But now, I just feel like getting wet is just what I need. I'm good at taking care of kids. What difference does it make if I am a teacher, a director, an assistant, or just a sub whose there when I can be. It is a place to offer what I do best, a place I know well, a second home, if you will. Maybe someday, I will even get to go back full time, drag my youngest two along, and be one of those mommas whose kiddos all went to the same school. Frankly, I should get a car sticker for preschool... proud parent of....
I guess my point in this disconnected conversation is that I am happy with where I am and what I am and what my life is about. It's not easy, by any means, and often we have to finesse and massage our life to make it work. But together, Colin and I, and the kids too, we cobble together a life that makes a pretty comfortable shoe. Ya know, since I'm the old lady with so many children...
Difference is, I know what to do.