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Green, green, it’s green they say, on the far side of the hill…*

August 4, 2011

I’m sorry I’ve written little over the last week.  I am so grateful to all of you for your well-wishes and emails as our family trekked 1300 miles across the south last week — was it just last week? — on our move to Austin.

I snapped this photo as we crossed the state line. Drive friendly, y'all.

The move?  It’s been fraught with challenges.  Upon hearing our tales of woe along the trail, friends facetiously commented that our car’s broken air conditioner and failed electrical system and our no-show movers were signs from a God who wanted to keep us out of the Lone Star State.  In fact, if I weren’t a person who rejects the notion of God-as-Micro-Manager, I might have considered wheeling our car around somewhere near Greer, South Carolina and heading back to our empty house in Durham.

While I don’t pretend to be a theologian or anything close, the God I’ve come to know is occupied with matters greater than our car’s throttle sensor or Nationwide Movers’ apparent inability to read a clock.  I believe in both an omniscient God and in human frailty, and our moving problems appeared linked to the latter.  I’m also not superstitious, so the theory that our move was ill-fated didn’t hold water for me.

Still, our journey from Durham to Austin felt snakebit from the beginning.  Aside from the broken air conditioner and the massive traffic jam somewhere in South Carolina, we arrived at my in-laws’ home outside of Austin to find a car that wouldn’t accelerate.  Lucky enough to borrow a car from them, we visited our new apartment, which was small and dark and smelled like something dead.

I called my friend Courtney.  Blessedly, she didn’t invoke God.  “Figure out what you’re supposed to learn from this experience,” she said.  “Learn it.”

As I considered her advice, I was embarrassed by abundance.  More furniture than we could fit in our apartment.  More clothes than we could fit in our closets.  I was chastened by plenty.  Was this the lesson —  the reminder of so much when so many have so little?

I was also reminded of my Chasing Maybes purpose — the intention to pursue experiences beyond my comfortable edges, one Trivial Pursuit category at a time.  July was indeed a study of Geography from directions I’d never planned.  I ran through, drove through, and saw through landscapes I’d never intended.  Our dirty caravan of two adults, two kids, and one incredibly anxious dog ambled through rainstorms in Mississippi and late night Louisiana.  I oriented myself anew to the south I’ve missed by airplane, small-spotted from the aisle seat I’ve occupied for far too long.  Was this the lesson (to paraphrase Proust) — to seek a once-familiar landscape with brand new eyes?

The past week has been challenging, sure, but it has also been a gift.  Some of the great stuff?

  • It’s all as beautiful as I remembered.  The limestone, the night sky studded with prayers for rain, the live oak trees… so much has changed, but the beauty stays.
  • As in every other endeavor, the people we love have saved us.  Our wonderful families, Atlanta friends Melanie and Jocelyn who braved the heat for a midday visit, Austin friends Roberto and Natalie who served us risotto and cold wine, and each of you who’ve raised wishes for a safe arrival — thank you.  Not to over-dramatize, but we couldn’t have done it without you.
  • The movers, when they finally arrived four and a half hours late, were legendary.  Two guys shorter than I, they worked without complaint or rest for five hours.  They ran between truck and doorstep.  Ours was their third job of the day, and they didn’t pause once. 
  • Watching our children play with their cousins, seeing them learn one another by heart, is the gift that drove us.  Watching them learn their history from every angle, studying the others who share their blood, is the reason we came.  I’ll take my sons to my grandmother’s 99th birthday party this week, an experience for which I couldn’t be more grateful. 

Stinky apartment (turns out, it is the glue on the new floors that stinks — not something dead) and assorted inconveniences aside, I know everything will be just fine.  I promise, Courtney, I’ll keep looking for the lessons.  I know they will keep coming.

I barely noticed, but it is a new month.  Our Chasing Maybes pie piece for August is green — Science and Nature — and I can’t wait to pursue it.  There’s a lot about science I’ve spent decades disregarding, so this should be fun.

Today, I hope you don’t have to look too hard for lessons.  I hope you are somewhere green.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

* title from “Green Green” by The New Christy Minstrels

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2011 7:34 am

    This was inspirational, Anne. We all need to look at our everyday lives through new lenses. So many blessings! You will be missed in Durham.

    • August 4, 2011 8:32 pm

      Thank you so much, Lenora. I hope you’ll call us the next time your travels bring you near Austin, and we will definitely see you for Lilly’s big event at Mardi Gras.

  2. September 16, 2011 1:25 am

    Anne, I just discovered your blog from your post at Sorta Crunchy today. My family moved to Austin the first week of August as well! I love your book project and I’d love to connect…

    • September 16, 2011 6:16 am

      So great to hear from you, Micha, and how nice to know you are in Austin! Just to clarify — Spirit-Led Parenting is Megan Tietz’s book (Megan writes regularly at SortaCrunchy; I was just guest-ing), as much as I wish I could claim ownership :). I would love to connect, too. Feel free to send me a message at arichwakefield@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

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