On the couch, feet up, a cup of pressed coffee within reach, laptop at the ready, cat curled up nearby, nobody is awake but you. These are the blissful moments that you get to have that somehow make all of other insanities worth going through.
Strange how, since most of my life and career has involved me putting myself "out there" in front of people, waving and smiling and saying "HI! Its me! Shelly! Yay!" and maintaining some level of pretend social-ness, the reality is that Alone suits me just fine. I can take Alone in long stretches and it doesn't bother me one bit. I'm a rechargeable battery, I guess.
So now that I finally have some time, let me tell you about the last two weeks, in which I didn't. Have time, that is.
I had a few major things bearing down upon me for the end of December--one was the holiday, and the other was moving to my apartment.
As far as the holiday was concerned, because I was moving, I was ready to call it a wash--I mean, really? What am I gonna do? Work triple time to get my apartment ready to house a pine tree for one week? Nah... So, there was that. I didn't even think about it, at all. Ended up wrapping some gifts late into the night on Christmas Eve-Eve, when I should have been sleeping.
The moving was not horrendous, a fact about which I am truly grateful. I've had horrendous moving experiences, and they are awful, though you do recover. The thing was, though, starting around the 10th, PAPERWORKPAPERWORKPAPERWORK ("In order to approve you for the apartment, we do require a blood sample, your tax forms for the past 12 years, 18 bars of silver and a lock of Johnny Depp's hair. How soon can you get us those things?"). A gigantic pain. But I got through that. Johnny Depp was super-cooperative, by the way--apparently he gets this kind of thing all the time. Then, of course, you have to call all the utilities, all of whom I EXPECTED to ask for a blood sample, tax forms, 18 bars of silver and a lock of Johnny Depp's hair, but all of whom just said, "OK! You're set!" Thank you! I thank you, my accountant thanks you, my cat thanks you, and I'm sure Johnny Depp thanks you, too.
We got the keys to the apartment on the 13th and starting moving things in, here and there, a car-load at a time. Meanwhile, I was working and the kids are going to school, so, the shuffling of boxes happens in the evening hours after work, when I was all tired and delirious because work has been insanely busy lately. The days went like this: Get up, hustle out the door, kick ass at work all day, drive home, pick up kids and stuff, drive to apartment, drop off stuff, drive to fast food place, eat, drive home, collapse, and get ready to do it all again the next day. That was five slammin' days in a row. Woot! Then, we got a Saturday, which was to be the final day of moving stuff, and a snow storm hit....You have to laugh about these things.
With a snow storm in full effect, we loaded a small moving van with the last of the stuff and crawled it over to the apartment, where the Moving Karma Gods smiled upon us and said, "Here! There is a parking spot directly in FRONT of the building!" That was nice.
About 4 in the afternoon, at the exact moment we finally had all of our possessions moved from Point A to Point B, my brother called me to say that he and his fiance were stuck at the airport because of the snow storm. They were on their way from North Dakota to Oklahoma, and they had been on and off planes and on and off the tarmac for about 12 hours, just getting from Minot to Minneapolis. Of course, they missed their connection, and, had no guarantee of getting to Oklahoma any time soon, but they were provided with a lovely ticket to Dallas the following day. Never mind the fact that Dallas is hundreds of miles away from where they were headed. They would worry about that tomorrow. Tonight, they needed food and a place to crash. I wasn't sure that I actually had either of those things to offer, but, ever up for the challenge, I advised, "I'm on my way..." and set out to pick them up.
You could tell that their day had been hellish up to that point because when I told them all I had was a spot on the floor to sleep and a Subway near my house, they fell all over themselves in gratitude.
Wow....that was easy.
Of course, finding the spot on the floor was not as easy, considering that the entire apartment was filled with boxes, but, we made do.
The next day, we had a leisurely breakfast at a restaurant and dropped R&B (Randy and Bethany) back at the airport, then returned to the sea of boxes, which I just stared at for most of the day because I was suddenly gripped with a complete blank as to where to put anything.
As the work week started the next day, with nothing put away, I struggled to find acceptable office-type clothing and the required hair products to make my presence at the work place less frightening for my co-workers.
Three days of that.
Christmas Eve, I was at the office when my sister called to advise that she was on her way from New Jersey to North Dakota, but, surprise, surprise, was now stuck in Minneapolis.
Leave work, pick up sister.
The traffic between Minnetonka (where I work) and the airport will forever be known as The Christmas Miracle and I was there in very short order.
That was easy.
Getting back to the apartment from the airport was also easy. Christmas Miracle Number 2.
We hung out with my sister for a few hours, then dropped her back at the airport.
Christmas day, my teen-aged daughters acted like they were teeny kids again and woke up before the sun, ready to open presents. They loved everything they got. Christmas Miracle Number 3. We went to our dear friends house for a dinner of lasagna and a spirited game of Balderdash, then, gifts in tow, went home to rest.
Finally home, even with boxes still strewn about the place, I felt at ease. I had a few days off ahead of me, my kids and I were at Our Place, which was so significant because we hadn't had a place of our own for so long, the cupboards and fridge were full, the lights and heat worked, and we could finally relax.
I crawled into a hot bath and scrubbed away all of the insanity of the past week--no, the past YEAR, and started feeling like myself again, for the first time in a very, very long time. I remember thinking, as I scrubbed, how weirdly symbolic it was to be stripping away the filth and dead off of me, all the way down to the new skin, after a long and hard-fought battle to do exactly that. Even a rank amateur psychologist wouldn't have missed that metaphor. It felt so good. Best Christmas, ever.
We still have plenty to do around here--there are still boxes everywhere and the household projects will have us busy for a long time, but we finally have it--sanctuary. Sanctuary, where you can sit on the comfy couch with your laptop and write, or, go to the other corner of the room and paint something, or hang out and watch a movie, or chat with your friends on the phone or online, or hang out in your room and learn a new piano/guitar part to some song you like...whatever. (One of the better parts of my long soak in the tub was listening to my children working out a song together in the next room. I was so delighted, I can't even describe it.) And there is nobody there to make you feel guilty about just doing the things that make you happy, as long as you're not hurting anybody else. Its nirvana on Grand Avenue. Welcome home...