Tag Archives: relocation

Chasing Fireflies: A Midsummer Blogging Update

“I assumed everyone had fireflies,” said my friend. We stood on her porch at dusk watching my son spin and dart around her yard, chasing the tiny, mid-air pulses of light. “But they don’t. People are surprised to see them here.”

tree canopy

tree canopy

Growing up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, I assumed the same. Fireflies are a given of summer. Since we moved back from the Midwest last month, I realize everyone doesn’t have them. Not the way we do here.

We didn’t have fireflies like this during our 16 years away. Chicagoland drowns them out with stronger, artificial lights. I vaguely remember them flickering in our yard in St. Louis, but that was rare. And their floating courtship didn’t stand a chance against the winds of Wichita.

Here they flourish. Waves of them parade through the night in the deep woods near our little rental house. We walk the trails in daylight and find them dark and hiding in the cool of the forest.

The first week we arrived, we walked those trails like destitute people who’d happened upon a cathedral. The rich green of thick vegetation flooded us. We took shelter under the canopy of tall trees. We breathed it in. An enchanted forest, steps away from our front door.

The dog refused to come into the house that first week. She would go out, but she wouldn’t come back in. The disruption of movers followed by driving across the country with my husband only to be met with movers again didn’t sit well with her. She’s adjusting; I still carry her back into the house some days.

Corinth

Corinth

My son and I made the drive incrementally from Wichita to North Carolina alone. We stopped along the way in interesting, important places: Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis, Corinth and Shiloh, Chattanooga. People have asked if I was scared driving all that way by myself with a child. No, I wasn’t scared. I was thankful I could do it.

Once we were moved in, my husband hit the ground running with his consulting work. He’s very busy, and we’re grateful.

My son and I are taking things slower, exploring our way through the summer and adjusting much like the dog. I’ve seen only a  fraction of the many people I want to see. Sixteen years is a long time to make up for being gone. Some things have changed. Others haven’t.

“Do you have a to-go cup I can pour this Coke into?” I asked the man at the counter of the barbecue restaurant. I love North Carolina barbecue. Eaten it twice already since we arrived. It’s comfort food to me. Makes everything better.

“No, we don’t have no to-go cups.” The whites of his eyes flashed up at me from his downturned, brown face.

“Oh,” I said. Just like the city. No margin for courtesies. Then I caught his smile.

“Here you go,” he said, handing me a cup, punctuated with a belly laugh.

“You have quite a poker face,” I said and laughed with him.

“I also work in drug and alcohol law enforcement,” he said. “I need a poker face.”

Later that day, my son and I took to the woods again, this time on our bikes.

forest path

forest path

We zipped through the forest in late afternoon, cutting the humidity like a boat cuts water. Rain from the night before had overflowed the creek banks and shifted the sandy trails. We ducked off the path to maneuver around fallen trees whose soggy roots had given way. Our wheels spewed flecks of gravel as they spun around.

Soaked with sweat and water, we reached the turn to go back to the house.

“Do we have to go in?” said my son.

“We can ride more tomorrow,” I said.

Today is only the beginning.

 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Eccesiastes 3:11 NLT

For King and Country, Middle of Your Heart.

What has your summer held for you?

Like fireflies in a city, my posts have been rare this summer. Thank you for your readership and your patience as my family makes this major relocation.

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

My work as a Project Underblog contributor continues. In June, Martha, May I? was published, and in July, A Clinique Conspiracy Theory was published. A third post is on tap for August. I invite you to click on the titles to read these stories. If you blog, consider stepping out and submitting a story to Project Underblog for publication. They are a supportive, safe community of writers~#smallandmighty!

I plan to attend the BlogHer conference in Chicago next week. It promises to be a fun time with my blogger sisters. If you’re there, please contact me @AimeeWhetstine on Twitter so we can connect IRL.

You may remember Listening to the Women of Monsanto was published this past May as a BlogHer Original Post. It was a well-read story for me. What’s next? That’s the question I’ll ponder at the conference and beyond. I must remind myself, as do we all, today is only the beginning.

photo credit: david_shankbone via photopin cc

18 Comments

Filed under America, blogging, family & friends, life, writing & reading

Time Out

Yesterday I locked myself out of the house. 

We still have a Supra box on the door. As I waited for the real estate agent to come rescue me, I realized it was the first time I’ve had to sit still in weeks.

medium_2729765458

gone fishing, image credit: Pink Moose

The impending move, the end of school, the women of Monsanto post, the closing on our house… It’s high time for a time out.   

one never ages while fishing

one never ages while fishing 

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:4-6 NIV

Summer Solstice by Susan Ashton.

What do you do for a “time out?”

photo credit: PinkMoose via photopin cc

2 Comments

Filed under life

Dodging Tornadoes

It’s not been the best of weeks. 

the perfect gift from Kansas

the perfect gift from Kansas

My house smells like cardboard boxes from packing. Stuff isn’t where it should be. I wonder if it ever will be again.

My thoughtful, kind, generous neighbors threw me a party. They gave me gifts from Kansas. I will miss these ladies. Our neighborhood has been one of the biggest blessings of our short time here. It’s hard to say goodbye.

Our son’s school and teacher this year have been huge blessings, too. His class performed a Salute to America program this week. They sang patriotic songs and gave speeches as famous Americans. They ended the show with a fitting quote from Ronald Reagan:

“I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

the stage is set

the stage is set

Could you just absolutely weep?

The program was noble and right and good. It’s what American elementary school students should be doing. I will miss this school. It’s hard to watch my child say goodbye.

A family member in North Carolina was unexpectedly hospitalized for most of the week. It’s nauseating to know that although we’re so close to being there, we’re not there now when we could possibly help. It’s hard to feel helpless.

I worked on writing a challenging assignment this week. Wrote my little heart out, or at least it seemed to me like I did, and I’m not sure it matters. The question of what will Aimee do when she grows up remains outstanding, unanswered, and flapping in the wind.

Life feels out of control and unsettled. So I wave my white flag.

medium_2673925463

surrender, image credit: portobeseno

Not my will, but Yours. Not by my power, but by Your Spirit. Help me to trust that in my weakness, You are strong. I give You my worries because You care for me. Wrap Your care around me and help me to stand.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV

White Flag by Dido is one of my favorite songs. I know she says she won’t wave a white flag and I just wrote I will, but neither of us is giving up, so there you go.

Who helps you dodge life’s tornadoes?

photo credit: portobeseno via photopin cc

9 Comments

Filed under faith, life

Game Changer

red shoes

ruby slippers

What if you lost something.

Or it lost you. You knew it was lost when you left it, but you didn’t know the full measure of what the leaving meant.

Once you grasped the leaving and the loss, it was too late. There was no going back. You were certain you would never find it again and it would never find you.

Then one day, quite by surprise, there it was. You could see it in the distance. And all you could think was how to get to it.

Put on your red shoes and click your heels. It’s time to go home.

*  *  *

One Wednesday morning last October, I rounded the corner onto my street. Something was out of place. My husband’s truck was in the driveway.

A little background: my husband’s marketing prowess helped the company where he had worked in St. Louis to sell out of their product all three years he was there. That success in turn attracted a buyer to purchase the company. My husband was wooed to Wichita, family in tow, to lead marketing at the acquiring company. He was supposed to be at work, but he met me at the door.

tornado shelter sign

tornado shelter

“What’s wrong?” I said. “Are you sick?”

“No.”

“Did you get laid off?”

“Yes.”

We’d been nine months in Wichita. Enough time to uproot a family, plop them down on the flat prairie of Kansas, cycle them through homesickness, new schools, new churches, new grocery stores, positive performance reviews, and one nasty tornado. Nine months in Wichita and they cut him loose.

I bought my ruby slippers when he still had a job. Little did I know, they were ripe for this journey.

*  *  *

Within weeks, colleagues called upon my husband as a consultant. This comes as no surprise to me. He’s a creative, strategic thinker. A rainmaker. A walking encyclopedia of agriculture. A good man who’s really good at what he does. We thought consulting would be a temporary gig, but he enjoys the work and he’s doing well. Maybe he’ll just keep right on building his business.

Wichita is not our home. Without the job, there’s nothing to keep us here. But where to go? Home of course. And where is that?

sold sign

deja vu

Home for us is a toss-up between Missouri and North Carolina. We love them both. We didn’t expect to have to choose. Not now, anyway. The last seven months have been a roller coaster blur of weighing good options against each other and agonizing over what to do.

All that is about to end. 

We’re surrendering to our inner South. Moving back to sweet tea and barbecue. Home to where we met and married.

Friends and family wait with open arms and long drawls. Fireflies and tadpoles, tall pine trees and dolphins arching out of the Atlantic at dawn—I like to think they wait for us, too.

We’ve coaxed our son with tales of your finest, North Carolina. There’s no place like home.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near Your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
they are ever praising You. Psalm 84:3-4 NIV

Carolina In My Mind by sweet baby James Taylor.

Plans for our move are about to take over my life.
Please bear with me. I’ll blog when I can!

63 Comments

Filed under life

Pumpkin Patch Peril

Last week my son had a day off school, so we trekked 25 miles to meet some of his school mates at Walter’s Pumpkin Patch.

pumpkin arrangement

pumpkin arrangement

This is the first fall in my son’s life we won’t be pumpkin and apple picking at America’s largest, family-owned, pick-your-own orchard, Eckert’s in Belleville, Illinois. We’re mourning the loss of Pumpkin Jamboree weekends and phenomenal fried chicken. But this year Eckert’s is 458.78 miles away.

Yes, I MapQuested it.

corn maze exit

maze exit

Walter’s isn’t the same as Eckert’s, but it’s still a blast. We were there on a weekday, so we had the place to ourselves including paddle boats, underground slides, an in-ground trampoline, corn maze, people-sized hamster wheel, giant seesaw, tree houses, and of course pumpkin picking.

Now my son has never struggled with separation anxiety. From the moment I dropped him off at nursery school, he’s not been one to look back. There are places to go, things to do, people to see. Mom? Mom who?

Walter’s was no different. He jumped head first into the activities, oblivious to my whereabouts. After lunch, he took off with his friends on their next adventure, leaving me in the dust.

I walked over to the country store to to chat up the owner. Turns out she knows the Eckert’s people. We discussed the finer points of Walter’s transformation into a destination farm.

As I strolled out of the store, I saw a small, lonely figure standing a block away from me on the driveway. Was that my child? Was he crying?

“What’s the matter?” I said as I got to him and held him. “Are you okay?”

“I couldn’t find you,” he said. “I thought you left me at the pumpkin patch!”

“Oh, no,” I said, “Mommy will never leave you.”

It was a promise I couldn’t keep, and I knew it the second the words came out.

“Mommy will never leave you at the pumpkin patch,” I said as if that clarification somehow helped.

Life is full of changes and loss. There will come a day when I will leave him—not by choice, never by choice. Death comes at the most inconvenient times.

Or he may leave me first. I pray not by death, but by growing up. His father and I are raising him with the goal that one day he’ll be independent of us. However, I can’t promise I won’t follow him if he moves away. Don’t you want me to be your daughter’s mother-in-law now?

We dried the tears and talked about how we both needed to tell each other where we were going to be, especially in strange, new places.

The school counselor’s words often haunt me, sloshing big buckets of guilt: “Moving is one of the top five most traumatic experiences for a child.”

Oh, Lord, what have we done.

“I miss Eckert’s,” said my son. So do I, baby. So do I.

pumpkin arrangement

pumpkins on porch

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

Brand new from an album due to release in January 2013, please listen to Need You Now by Plumb.

How do you deal with loss? How do you help your children deal with it?

 

10 Comments

Filed under faith, family & friends

A Land Without Squirrels

X-Files David Duchovny as Fox Mulder, image from wikipedia

David Duchovny as Agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files, image from wikipedia

Month eight in Wichita. We’ve yet to see a squirrel in our yard. Time to call Fox Mulder.

We’ve seen robins, turtles, rabbits, toads, barn swallows, cardinals, deer, muskrats, herons, and a turkey who crossed the road, but no squirrels.

This wouldn’t be a big deal except we have a dog whose favorite pastime is hunting squirrels. Flamboyant St. Louis squirrels.

Cairn terriers are bred to hunt vermin. Ella was only a few months old when once during a walk back in St. Louis, a squirrel fell out of his tree and landed on me. I screamed. The squirrel ran. My cute, innocent, downy-headed puppy sprang into action transformed. Ella didn’t catch the squirrel, but she treed him and wouldn’t move.

St. Louis Cardinals Rally Squirrel

rally squirrel

Long before Rally Squirrel gained World Series fame, the squirrels of St. Louis infested the attics of our old houses. They chewed through electrical wires. They picked our young, blushing tomatoes, eating a single bite before leaving them ruined and discarded on fence posts. With ardor, they hollowed out our Halloween pumpkins.

Our neighbor Bob got fed up with them one spring. We’d see the barrel of his pellet gun poking out his second-story window.

The lone gunman shot more than 80 squirrels that year, but didn’t make a dent in the population.

Another neighbor Larry owned an exceptional golden retriever. Yankee was as perfect as a dog can be in both temperament and stature. When Yankee died, Larry posted a eulogy on a tree in the park: “For Yankee, fine dog and companion, who caught 16 squirrels here. You will be missed.

Our dog Ella never caught a squirrel, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Now she doesn’t have a chance.

I thought of this one night when I couldn’t sleep. It’s the little things like squirrels, forgotten toys, and expired cake mixes that get to me.

In the dark, I could see the outline of Ella’s tiny body curled up on her bed beside mine. How sad she hasn’t chased a squirrel since we left St. Louis. Poor little dog, been through so much.

How much more her owners.

We humans navigate the changes of life, flying and leaping and scuttling through as best we can. We try not to fall, but often we do anyway.

We run for recovery in the next city, job, or relationship. We race away from the sadness only to find it has cornered us and will not let us go without a fight.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 NIV

Counting Crows are a favorite. So is their cover of Start AgainEven though it’s complicated, we got time to start again…

What “squirrels” keep you up at night?
How do you put them to rest?

 

6 Comments

Filed under life

The Curious Case of Transferential Homesickness

Homesickness must be a result of The Fall. How else did it become so ingrained in my psyche?

Welcome to Wichita, Kansas, All-America City

welcome to Wichita

I haven’t cried much over our move from St. Louis to Wichita. That is, not until we visited St. Louis two weeks ago.

I cried in church and at the hotel. I cried for the people we visited and the people we missed seeing this trip. I teared up at Ladue Nails, the zoo, and the Galleria.

When I lived in St. Louis, I couldn’t wait to leave. Whistle me Dixie and send me packing to North Carolina where I was raised. Where life is normal.

Now that I live in Wichita, I’m still homesick for The South. But I also long for the Lou, where life is normal.

“I’m homesick,” I said to my husband. “But I’m not sure for what!”

“You’re homesick for everything and everyone we’ve known,” he said.

Well, that about covers it.

Sometimes I think my husband could be happy living in a van down by the river. Or on a farm. Or in a city. Or a small town. Or just about anywhere else you can imagine. His parents gave him luggage for graduation if that tells you anything.

But I pine for a sense of place. I feel a need to belong somewhere.

Chicago downtown river view

my kind of town, Chicago is

I’ve belonged several somewheres on our tour de relocation, and now I miss them all. Even Chicago looks inviting.

If there ever comes a time when we leave Wichita to go home, where will that be exactly? Will I miss Kansas then the way I miss my former homes today?

Transference is a psychoanalytic concept meaning the inappropriate redirection of feelings from one relationship to another. Sigmund Freud came up with it, so take it with a grain of salt.

Transference occurs between people. I wonder if it can happen between a person and a place, too. Like Scarlett O’Hara and the red earth of Tara.

Those struck by locational transference struggle through life in a never-ending episode of homesickness. Missing, missing, always missing. A framework of loss their only constant.

Reframing is another therapy concept. It dares to find a different way to look at things.

Maybe the never-ending episode is really a pursuit of Home. The people and the familiar. The smells and seasons. The moments of contentment, love, and belonging taken for granted. The state of normal once found in a place and time.

We forge new relationships as life moves along—we have to. But this lingering homesickness accompanies us. It reminds us to embrace contentment where we find it because things may change tomorrow. It drives us on to recapture a place we left behind a long time ago. A place called Home.

They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that… from Hebrews 11:13-16 The Message

me and Steven Curtis Chapman at the airport in Nashville

me & Steven Curtis Chapman

Long Way Home is the latest from my favorite singer with three names Steven Curtis Chapman. Remember the time we were on the same plane to Nashville?

Have you ever been homesick? How did you move forward?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

12 Comments

Filed under faith, life