Travel

Home from Minnesota…

My daughter and I left Texas for Minnesota at 6am on Wednesday. After a brief layover at Midway (Chicago dogs for late breakfast for the win!), we arrived at the Minneapolis airport around 1pm. We lugged all the suitcases to the rental car kiosks and grabbed our rental car and hit the road. St. Peter is about an hour drive from the airport, but it was lovely… all fields and farms and silos. When we finally arrived in St. Peter, the picturesqueness seems to only continue. The town is beautiful. There are brick buildings from one end of Main Street to the other and all the little homes looked so cute. Seriously, the entire time we were there, I never saw a house in that town that was in any state of disrepair.
We got checked into our hotel and then headed out for a bite to eat. We ended up eating at the same restaurant three times while I was there because the food was so good. The restaurant was Patrick’s on 3rd. I think I ate my weight in fried cheese curds. Friday was Move In Day so we spend Wednesday and Thursday either toodling around St. Peter exploring the shops and restaurants or running pre-dorm errands. Having those days to just chill out with my daughter was super nice. We didn’t have any solid plans so we just got to spend time together and if we felt like driving somewhere, we jumped in the car and took off. If we wanted to walk around town and poke our heads into little stores, we did. But mostly, we wanted to explore the school campus which we did a lot of.
Friday morning, we got up and loaded all of the bags back into the car. We made the short drive from the hotel to the college campus and were greeted with a wall of enthusiastic college students. They were all dressed in yellow t-shirts and were waiting at each of the college entrances. They yelled things like “welcome home!” and “we’re so glad you’re here” and chanted a variety of the school’s cheers. Now, I don’t know if they do this at all colleges, but if they don’t – they should. It is so much fun to pull into your new school and experience this wave of positive energy. My throat tightened up as we drove past them all. A few minutes later we were parked in front of the dorm unloading suitcases into the grass for the football players to take upstairs. My daughter’s room was on the fifth floor so I was pretty pleased that we had help.
Once all of her stuff was in the dorm, we got busy unpacking and setting it all up. This is really the only part of the trip where I felt rushed. I knew the clock was ticking and I had a limited amount of time before I had to head back to the airport. I wanted to make sure we got everything done. We were unpacked in no time and took the opportunity to head out to Patrick’s for one last lunch. We stopped and grabbed a few things we hadn’t know she would need before running back to the campus. We headed over to the admissions office and got her ID and signed a few pieces of paperwork and then we were done. She laughed at me as I loaded an entire walmart bag with pinecones to bring home. Our goodbye was fast and thankfully tear free. She has never been a cryer and I am but I think this goes to show just how confident I am in the choice we made for her to go to school there. I am not afraid or even worried leaving her there. Similar to having left Connecticut a few months ago, I flew home knowing both of these girls are ok. I can worry that they won’t eat healthy or that they’ll be late or that they won’t change their socks or brush their teeth enough, but as far as just being all right? I know they will be all right. And as I drove out of St. Peter towards Minneapolis, I just felt so proud. This kid has worked so hard to get to exactly where she is and I know she is going to be so happy over the next four years as she lives there and starts her life and gets her degree.

almost time…

This past weekend, my daughter and I packed all of the stuff she is taking to college and then we laid down on her bed together and created an amazon wish list for all of the random stuff she’d love to receive in the mail while she is there. Washi tape, post it notes, index cards, relatively healthy snacks, mint tea… As we were working on that, The GingerBeard Man brought us a tray of chips and queso he had made. We snacked and clicked “add to list” and chatted about our upcoming trip to Minnesota. A few hours later, we were done and I went off to do my normal Sunday chores. I packed lunchboxes and did laundry and mopped the floors. It was just a normal weekend.
Yesterday I woke up riddled with anxiety. I couldn’t take enough deep breaths. I just walked around work taking deep breath after deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. Trying to figure out why they were buzzing so much. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I was so distracted that morning making breakfast and packing lunches for the little girls that one of them asked me if I was ok. In response to a message from The GingerBeard Man asking how my day was going, I admitted that I felt really anxious and I wasn’t sure why. He responded with “your daughter is moving away in two days.”
Today I woke up with some different feelings. I am still super anxious, but I am also so very emotional. Thinking about anything makes tears sting my eyes. I’ve had a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat since I opened my eyes this morning. Today, I can see more clearly how much moving my daughter away to college is affecting me. I can tell that any thought process about her in any way is making me teary eyed.
It doesn’t change the fact that I am so happy for her and even more proud of her. But my very logical thought processes about all of this are failing to convince my heart today. Today all I can seem to do is worry about her and think about how much I will miss her.

Just a few more days…

On August 31st, I will be taking my second oldest daughter to Minnesota. Our flight leaves bright and early Wednesday morning.
I think she has settled into a kind of quiet and contemplative mood about it. Weeks ago, it was all boisterous excitement and energy, but the last few days have been more of a nesting type attitude, lots of doing laundry and making lists of things to remember to pack or do.
I had a lengthy chat with a coworker the other day, she also has children who are grown and out on their own, and we talked about how it’s heart wrenching but also, how right it is. Do I love the idea of my kids moving thousands of miles away and starting their lives on their own? No. Ha! But also, yes. Yes, I want brave children who face the world of adulthood and newness and embrace the challenges and fears. I want children who jump out of the nest and fly. I want children who are not tethered to me because they are leading their own lives. I am so glad that I was able to raise these types of children. I’m so proud of these girls.
So on September the second, when I drop my rental car off and wheel the empty suitcases into the airport so I can fly home, my heart will break knowing I am leaving yet another child behind and alone, but it will also be so very full of joy that she is starting off her adult life with every ounce of bravery I had wished for her for the last eighteen years.

anxiety

I’ve had anxiety issues all of my life. I believe they originated in childhood. Growing up with parents who had physical fights after loud and long screaming arguments and who would move you from one state to another at the drop of a hat probably created some of my insecurity issues. My childhood wasn’t built on anything solid. It was built on fear. My younger brother and I spent a fair amount of time wondering when the shit would hit the fan next time and trying to plan out what our strategy would be for handling that. Would we call the police and risk getting into trouble? Or would he handle trying to keep them from killing each other while I took our little sister somewhere so she wouldn’t hear? Or would we just all run away?
At one point or another, we tried them all.
Flash forward to Hawaii, where we moved when I was a chubby, frizzy haired, freckle faced, redheaded ten year old. Hawaii is beautiful and I know so many people there who are also beautiful, both inside and out – but going to school in Hawaii as a little white girl is scary. You’re a haole and it brings out the bullies. Going to school every day was about survival. It was about knowing when to go to the bathroom, where to hide during lunch and which girls not to make eye contact with. And no sooner than my mother decided to “home school” us, our house burned down and we lost literally everything we owned.
Are you catching the theme of instability?
By the time I was in my late teens, I trusted absolutely nothing. I didn’t trust employment or people and the idea that I was ever safe from anything was ridiculous. Going to the grocery store I would check my wallet a half a dozen times to make sure my card was in there. And then checking out, I’d break out in a sweat thinking that it would be denied even though I had checked the balance right before I got there. Anyone I dated was cheating on me, would hit me, and eventually would leave me. I was never relaxed, never believed anything would last. I was terrified that I would lose my job and the girls and I would be homeless. It kept me up at night, planning out what I would pack, what I would abandon, what I would tell the children. Even social outings would render me so full of anxiety that I would sit in my car staring at the door and trying to work up the nerve to just walk in. Sometimes I couldn’t.
One day, in my twenties, I decided I was done. I was done being afraid. I was done living every single day wondering when the bottom would fall out. I was done. This was my life. I was reclaiming it. I was not going to be in a prison of fear anymore. Starting right then and there, I would look that anxiety in the face and walk right past it. It was the bravest I’d ever been. It took absolutely everything I had in me. And slowly, oh my god so very fucking slowly, I was able to climb up and out of that hole. It was like I had to show my brain that each thing wasn’t scary by doing it a dozen times before it was removed from the terror list. It was awful and it took years. And even now, in my mid thirties I still run into times where anxiety will creep in and consume me, occasionally for seemingly no reason at all.
One of my guilty pleasures now is being able to laugh at myself. I forgot my credit card in the car? I’m sorry, how crazy. Please go ahead and suspend my grocery transaction and I’ll go get it. Falling down in front of everyone? Ha! SO WHAT? Forgetting my badge for work. So annoying but not the end of the world. Small things. Small drops in a bucket and they can only take the amount of attention that I give them. Some things deserve a little bit of concern and I have to give them that or become entirely numb, but not everything. So when I feel like I am being apprehensive about something, like the drive to Connecticut that begins in the morning, I have to forgive myself a little bit. Being nervous is ok. I am allowed to be worried. The Ginger Chick from ten years ago could not have done it. She wouldn’t have been able to sleep for all of the freaking out about every single possible scenario. She would have needed so much xanax. But this Ginger Chick? She can.

in 36 hours

In 36 hours I will be loading up the car with my oldest daughter and her two kitties and heading to Connecticut. I can’t believe how something that was so far away has crept up on me. And what do I even want to say about it? I can feel the little tendrils of anxiety when I think about all of it compiled: three days of driving, driving in places I am not familiar with, hotels and cats, caravaning the two vehicles for thirty hours, driving through New York… all of the travel stuff freaks me out but I am feeling a strange calm when I think about leaving my daughter there. My baby will be living so far away in a place she isn’t familiar with and while that’s so surreal, it’s also so very right. She is supposed to leave and have a life. And I am so lucky that she has found a great partner to start her life with, someone who I trust to take care of her and to learn with her.
So I am all packed and Wednesday morning we are headed from here to Memphis, Thursday we will leave Memphis and make our way to Winchester, Virginia and finally on Friday, we will drive from Virginia into Connecticut. And then I am never driving ever again. Ever. Again. This isn’t a road trip in the traditional sense… no stopping and seeing all of the weird roadside attractions.. just a lot, a lot, of driving.

a random list…

I have lost an entire load of laundry in the last week. Does this happen to other parents? It happens occasionally in my home. I think it is because the girls don’t care who’s laundry they have. They just take it and stick it somewhere to keep me from griping at them for not putting their clothes away. A few weeks later, I will stumble across some items I’m missing and upon further digging, discover the entire missing load. In this case, I am very much looking forward to that happening as I am missing two pairs of jeans and I’ve been wearing this pair for three days straight…

The movers came! The movers came! All four thousand, one hundred and fifty pounds of stuff that we moved into the storage room is now packed into wooden crates and on it’s way to Connecticut!

The second I walked out of my bedroom this morning, I started my little mental zen chant I’m ok with the house being messy. I’m ok with the dishes not being done. I’m ok with the table being covered in random stuff. I’m ok with the house being messy. The GingerBeard Man and I discussed this at our anniversary dinner last night. We are accepting the mess around us right now in this time of chaos because trying to tackle it with all the stuff going on is a nearly impossible task, and one that takes the time we want to spend with the two older girls away from us. So for now I am ok with the house being messy.

I found my everyday bra this morning. I thought it was part of the missing laundry. It wasn’t. But I am glad to have it back.

I googled “stress sweating” after being a sweaty mess the last week or so. I couldn’t figure it out. During the whole drive to IKEA this past weekend, I was just dumping sweat. At work, I’m sweaty… even at home. So I finally stopped and asked myself what had changed lately and the only thing I could think of was that I have been super stressed out. Sure enough, The Internet confirms: We have two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. When we get stressed, the larger apocrine glands – mainly in the armpits and groin – produce sweat. Stressful situations also cause our heart rate to increase, and encourage hormones and adrenaline to flood the body, causing additional sweat from our eccrine glands.

When I told Youngest Daughter yesterday that it was The GingerBeard Man and my anniversary, she asked what we were going to do to celebrate. As he had not told me yet, I said I didn’t know. She excitedly blurted “you should have a water balloon fight!”

I have like four lists right now on my desk. One for all of the things I need to finish at work before I leave in one week for Connecticut. One for all of the things I want to do before I leave regarding home stuff (ha!). One for all of the stuff my oldest daughter needs to do prior to moving. And one for all of the things I want to remember to pack.

Second Oldest Daughter left for Spain yesterday. She sent me a text at 6:30 this morning to tell me she was drinking moscato in Spain. I couldn’t possibly be more jealous.