Monday, October 28, 2013

On Being Homesick and Grateful

Crane Beach

Have you ever thought about doing something so big that it would be considered a major life change and thought, “I could do that. No problem. It'll be an adventure.”? Like picking up your life and moving it 3,197 miles from your family and everyone you know and love? No sweat, right? It's an adventure. You live for experiences and you love to travel and get out there and see the world!

Well, have you ever gone through with it and it turned out to be “no problem”? Because if you have, I need to know how you did it. I'm gone 3 weeks and 3 days from the town I consider my home and I'm a homesick mess.

I miss my son the most. This is the first time we've lived in separate towns, let alone clear across the country from each other. (Well, apart from being across the country from him when he was 9 months old because I was called back into the Marines for Desert Storm.) For the last 23 years, no matter what, it's always been him and I. Even if we weren't living in the same house or the same part of town we were always connected. We're still connected but now I can't just drive across town and have coffee with him or go on a hike with him or go have Terminator Milkshakes with him at McMenamins.

It. Is. Painful. So painful.

Part of me feels like a huge baby and if he's handling it well, then why can't I? The other part of me says, “Well of course it hurts. He's your son.”

He's my son.

Chances are he will eventually move out of Portland (maybe) and if I was there in Portland when he moved away, would I feel the same as I do now? Of course I would. But knowing that Portland was where he jumped off from and feeling like I'm holding a sense of space for him to come back to would be so much different then where I sit right now 3,197 miles away from the place we've called home for the last 11 years.

I miss my son. I know that somehow this distance will turn out to be good for both of us, but right now all I know is that I miss him.

I miss Portland, too. I miss the small towns in the big city. I miss being able to call up a friend and go grab a beer just for the hell of it. I miss the quirkiness. I miss knowing where everything is. I miss the queer community. I miss my friends.

There are things I haven't yet done here on the East Coast that I'm sure once I get some funds coming in and do them I'll start to feel the adventure part of this experience. One of those things being spending time with fellow photographer Syd London in New York. Seeing Times Square for the first time. Maybe even seeing Brandon from Humans of New York out and about shooting more beautiful photographs for his project. Or visiting my sister in Connecticut. Photographing a New England winter, spring and summer. Getting down to Florida to finish up my own project shoots. Meeting lots of new people.

In addition to being homesick, other things are eating away at me during this transitional time. Like the way my leaving Portland looked to a few of my close friends based off of things that were posted on a social networking site. (I swear those sites will be the death of society.) Things weren't as they seemed and there didn't seem to be any room for clarity from me. There's so much pain wrapped around that. I want to reach out but don't even really know where to start at this point. Perhaps time will make things clearer with regards to reaching out or leaving it be. I don't know.

Giving up my Oregon drivers license and replacing the plates on my car with Massachusetts plates was emotional. I took care of those things last week and almost cried at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Seems like such an odd thing to cry about. Although, waiting for over an hour and giving up the money for it all really should have made me cry.

The good news in all of this is that after being here for only 3 weeks I've landed two part-time jobs. One at a doggie daycare here in town and another at an IT company that's only a 7 minute walk from the house. I started the IT company job today and it seems to be a good gig. The people are nice and I'm learning new-to-me software, which is always a good thing for the resume'. My mornings are spent at the doggie daycare and starting my days off with doggies makes me very happy. It sets a good tone for the day. (The job where I'm paid the least and picking up poop is where I'm the happiest. Go figure. If only I could survive on that job alone.)

In the meantime, I continue to do tons of internal soul searching trying to figure out what makes me happy and how I can get paid to do it. Since I've been here, I've figured out that wedding photography is not where my passion lies. The project is where my passion lies. Maybe after this one is done, there will be another. Writing has been heavy on my mind lately, as well. The outline of a story for a book has been making it's way into my thoughts. My Mom has been encouraging me to start writing again. I'm getting other signs from the Universe to write so I need to just do it. With the holidays coming I'm going to need a distraction. Plus, I keep hearing how terrible New England winters are so I may be buckling down inside to stay warm during my off hours. It'll be a good time to write.

Also on the advise of my Mom, I will start focusing on what I'm grateful for in each day. Starting today and every day through the end of the year I will do my best to write a blog post about that which I am grateful for. Today, I am grateful for my two jobs and the income they will provide. I'm also pretty proud of myself for landing them so soon after getting into town. I certainly hit the ground running when I got here and it's paid off.

14 comments:

  1. Hi, Wendi! This is Traci Ford from Facebook. I am actually one of those people who thinks it would be no problem to pack up and move...wherever. Although, my son i on board with coming with, I wonder if being apart would be better for the both of us. I can, to some extent, identify with your feelings of "apartness" and isolation if only in my imagination. Counting my blessings has always made my "bad" days not seem so bad, I agree with your Mom. Just know that even though we've only just "met" on a social networking site, it could either turn out to be a life-long friendship or a simple acquaintance. Either way, glad to have you on the east coast, TDMK (The Divine Ms. Kali) B@Peace and of good cheer! Trey

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  2. I have never taken a risk and moved far away. I have taken risks in love and now at age 60 I find myself involved with a Femne who has a house in NJ with a 14 year old gay son and a 92 year old mother. I have lived in my house for 26 years and am scared to sell and move on but I love her. It's not a far move like yours,but to me it is 3 thousand miles....

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    1. Completely understand. Strength to you.

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  3. Wendi, I totally feel for you. Six years ago I left not only California, but my country. The first six months were some of the most difficult of my life. Being away from family, from known comforts, from friends...it was incredibly hard. But, that said: it does get easier. As you establish yourself, as you open yourself up to new places and explore to find the things that can make you happy in your new place, you'll start to get grounded again. Skype (and Viber, if you have a smartphone) are lifesavers when it comes to family.
    Hang in there. It does get easier.

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    1. Thank you. I'm hanging in there as best I can.

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  4. My wife and I have made 3 big moves. Florida to Pennsylvania, Penn to Texas, and most recently Texas to Chicago. (Notice how Chicago is Chicago and not Illinois? Saying Illinois would be too boring I think. Anyway, we did not have any issues moving from any of those places even though we left friends and family behind. We have 4 kids and 12 grand kids scattered throughout the world (a few in Ireland) and we are too excited for their adventure, and our own, to mourn the loss of being down the street. I think where it truly makes a difference for us, though, is that when it comes right down to it, we are each other's home. No matter where we live we are happy and peaceful. The kids are ok, our friends are ok, we keep touch with FaceTime, Facebook, phone calls and pictures. When the distance becomes too much we go visit and it's a wonderful reunion every time. You moved for love, right? Bask in that. It will be an amazing daily experience where you will not have to remind yourself of what you are grateful for, you will just wake up feeling that way, once you embrace it. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks. I moved for much more then love, though. At this point in my life I'm entirely too cynical to move only for love.

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  5. I've moved many, many times. I'm now ready to settle down in a place I can be happy for the rest of my life and I've picked Portland as that place. For the moment, I'm still in Massachusetts. (It looks like it will be another 2 months before I go, but we'll see what happens.)

    With all of that experience, I will tell you that it takes some time to build community, but that's the thing that makes a place feel like home. Which I know you know. You'll get there.

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    1. Portland is a great place to spend the rest of your life. That community you talked about, it's in Portland for me. I built it there over the last 11 years.

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  6. So sorry to hear of the heartache for your son and homesickness. Perhaps with time these will become strengths in your life. Here's to looking forward to new community and new adventure! I hope that these painful times will pass quickly and transform into a rich and fulfilling new life. Congrats on the jobs, pretty awesome!
    Love the idea of daily gratitude. I've kept gratitude journals here and there and it really did help me to see a broader, brighter picture, even on crap days. Best wishes to you in your journey :) Lex

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  7. You, Wendi, are living true to the pull of your soul, following it's lead into the rich unknown. It's like birthing inwardly. How can that not be painful? Sometimes we have to lean into the pain. Hunker down into discovery, which you are doing so beautifully in your new New England space. Missing and longing are intense energies that fuel our soul growth

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  8. Some people are separated from the ones they love by a distance called death, so consider that a few thousand miles is not such a big distance. As a fellow adoptee, I know how separation can feel like death. I don't have the experience of having children, so don't know what it's like for you.Personally, I moved many times in my life, from Europe to the West Coast, West Coast to Montreal, Montreal to France, France to now England and probably England to some other place...I enjoy new beginnings. It keeps your soul young and your creativity sharp. Seeing the pictures you have taken there, I'd say you are already feeling positive aspects of the move on your creativity. Best of luck to you in your new home. With Christmas round the corner, you will probably be with family soon.

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