I think I have finally been able to figure out what has been hard about this move. Don't get me wrong; there has been plenty of good stuff. J. and I are enjoying the feeling of not having the albatross of too high taxes combined with the second albatross of a house we cannot afford to fix weighing us down. We love the beauty of the area where we are living. We love that J.'s commute is so much shorter and that he is still enjoying his job and finding it both doable and challenging all at the same time. I have found things for the various children to replace what we left, so they are feeling more settled. The house is pretty close to being organized and livable and I'm in the process of giving away the last of the packing boxes. This is all pretty good for being here just over two months.
For me, at least, it still has the vague feeling of being temporary; of being out of place and not quite settled. I knew that leaving a place I had lived for nearly 30 years, where I knew a lot of people, would not be replaced over night. But since I'm a bit of a research junkie, figuring out where to find things and do things didn't seem all that overwhelming. Tedious sometimes, perhaps, but doable. What I wasn't expecting to be missing was the sense of history. That would be both the knowing the stories of the people and places I was in contact with, but also those people knowing my stories. I'm used to walking into a store, the clerk seeing my last name, and asking if I was related to Gail Curry, my mother-in-law (who did know everyone.) While this happened less and less often over the years, it still happened enough to make me feel a little bit connected to her even though she passed away over 11 years ago.
I'm used to knowing enough people that when I say I have vacancies in my piano studio that word-of-mouth works and I can fill those spots.
I'm used to walking into a group of people, and usually knowing at least one other person.
I'm used to walking into church and pretty much knowing everyone... or at least they knew who I was. (It is kind of hard to not be known when you travel with so many children.)
I realize that I am very used to not being anonymous, and that is kind of what I am now, even when I have my children with me. It has been a little odd that the Great Dane puppy has received more public comment than the fact I have nearly a dozen children in tow. I don't usually look for public comment, but at least in this season, it would go a long way towards helping me feel a little less invisible.
Because invisible is pretty much how I feel.
I know it really is just for a season. We will get to know people; we will create a joint history together; we will learn each others stories. It is a lengthy and time-consuming process, though. I don't want to think about how old I will be by the time I have recreated 30 years of shared history here.
This has also highlighted how much I don't fit into typical categories. I'm not an empty-nester, though I have two children grown and out of the house. I still have little ones at home, so am not as free with my time as they are. While I'm a parent of teens, I'm not overly excited by joining a 'mom of teens' group. These tend to be a little on the fearful side about saving our teens from the big, bad world, and I have learned to be wary of overly simplistic parenting check lists. A group for moms of younger children? Well, I do have those, but I have learned the hard way that by having adult children and teen children and so many children, that my mere presence feels overwhelming to many new moms. Trust me on this. I have shut down more than a few conversations that were happily rolling along just by answering the question of how many children I have. This not fitting in business is nothing new, but it is certainly highlighted for me right now, particularly since groups such as these are truly one of the most effective ways that mothers get to know one another.
In a sense, I feel as though not only am I invisible now, but I have also lost my voice. At least a voice that anyone wants to read. And for a writer, this is not a really terrific thing. A writer without an audience is a frustrated being. (And I was never very good a just keeping a personal journal. If no one was going to read it, I just couldn't get up the gumption to write.)
Multiple paragraphs of navel gazing is probably more than enough. For those of you who have moved often, you have my sincerest admiration. It's tough.