Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Long-Awaited Story

How We Got to Oregon
by Annalea

So, waaaaaaaay back at the end of April, we accepted an offer on our house in Idaho. The terms were perfect . . . really, just what we had been praying for. The buyer wasn't in any hurry to close, so the closing date was set for six weeks out. We would then rent from the seller for an additional six weeks, giving me at least a month postpartum before the move.

The time passed as those blurry days before childbirth and moving often do . . . packing, life feeling pretty chaotic, and all of the stress and work that go with both of those things. (I highly recommend not combining the two . . . ever.) Vern did the lion's share of packing and moving, sparing me stress that my body honestly couldn't handle at that point. Around that time, (can't remember exactly now), I was also finally diagnosed with hypo-glycemia. All of the strange and debilitating symptoms I had been struggling under
(depression, panic attacks, night terrors, lethargy, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalances, headaches, racing/pounding heart, muddy thinking, short-term memory loss) finally made sense, and I was able to take steps to quit exacerbating my condition and learn to live with it.

At long last, the moving day came. With lots of help from friends and family, we made it to Bellingham over a two-week stretch. The lag between loading the truck and walking into the rental in Bellingham was spent with parents and cousins, and was a necessary and welcome respite from the horrors of packing/unpacking. While staying with family in Oregon, Vern and I came to the realization that the quiet dream we had of living in that beautiful area could become a reality. We had considered moving there about four years earlier, but the relatively lower land prices in Idaho clouded our judgement, and made the two and three acre parcels available here seem exorbitantly priced and restrictively small. The dream was shelved, and we went back to the reality we chose in Northern Idaho. But with the continuing development in our area there, the prices soon came into line with Oregon's, and Vern kept scaling back his idea of an acceptable place to live. First it was 20 acres, then 10, then 5. And then, staying over for that week at Miriam's house (on less than 2 acres), Vern could see how much space it really was. He saw what a wonderful place it was for her children to grow and play, and the wheels began to turn. So we began talking about settling there . . . someday.

Impatient to get moved in and settled, we got things unloaded at the B'ham house, and tried to start making a home there. But things weren't right. The property management company hadn't taken care of the home as they should've, and we spent the first week, barely unpacked, trying to decide if we could live with cabinets sticky to the touch with years' of grime, strange smells in the carpet downstairs, and an overwhelming scent of mothballs. (Well, overwhelming to me . . . it was just strong to everyone else. Chemical sensitivities is a symptom of endocrine system dysfunction, which is part of hypo-glycemia.) But, determined to end our quest for the ideal and get on with living our lives, we tried to stay. I told myself I could somehow manage to clean nearly 40 cabinet doors & drawers of about 20 years' grime and scrub 1800 sq ft of hardwood upstairs (rubbing it with a damp paper towel made the towel coal-black). And do laundry, cook healthy meals, homeschool, nurse the baby, cloth diaper, unpack, and explore Belligham. And then I would have a flash of clear-thinking, and realize my still-weak and wobbly body just couldn't do it for quite some time yet.

The view was breath-taking. Looking out the window, I really felt as though I was living in some ancient English manor, overlooking manicured grounds and a private lake. (Living above a golf course can do that to you.) I took so many photos, trying to catch the many moods of lake and sky. Even without pictures, I'll always remember its loveliness. Our
Bellingham ward (a church unit similar to a parish) was welcoming and friendly to the point that we look forward to attending there again when we go back to visit. We were right by the lake, where Vern could kayak on 5 minute's notice and we could take the kids to splash and play, I had found an awesome LYS, Apple Yarns, and loved the knit night there. (Hi Andrea, Hi Anna!) But this strange feeling of impermanence . . . of visiting . . . would. not. dissipate.

The second Sunday after arriving there, Vern got an email from his business partner, notifying us of his intent to dissolve the partnership. That completely rocked our world. So close to finishing a project that we had invested nearly two years in, and that Vern had been dreaming of and scheming for since before we were married (that's more than 10 years folks), he was absolutely devastated; I was shocked and bewildered. As if the rental wasn't enough of a problem to try to hash out and resolve, we now had a much bigger problem: dissolving the partnership without losing everything we had worked so hard to gain. It was strange, having someone who was Vern's ally and partner for 40+ hours a week suddenly step over the line and declare himself a completely self-motivated opponent.

And then driving one day, Vern was on the phone with someone and said something that still stands so clearly in my mind. He explained how
the partnership had been the prime motivating factor in our choosing Bellingham, and then said: "That factor is no longer there."

The reason for living in Bellingham disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Hearing that was the strangest experience. Like an old-fashioned newspaper title, the words stood out in bold black in my mind. It's hard to explain the feeling of liberation, almost lightness, than followed. We had been discussing the prospect of the Portland area, and upon hearing that fragment from Vern, it all fell into place.

One month after our last visit, we all went back to Miriam's for Vern to run in a 10k in Estacada. Again, it was a blessing to have the space and time away from that rental to think things over and breathe some air untainted by the stress and negative energy in that rental. And we decided to stop making decisions based on external pressures . . . to stop running from things we couldn't control. When we began looking back, all of our previous moves had been made in the "running from" frame of mind. Finally, we stopped "running from" and made a conscious choice to "go to".

We chose Oregon.

The next weekend Vern was back in Oregon, and found a house for us. The next Monday we sent notice to the property management company (who had failed to make a legally-required repair, freeing us to break the lease), and began packing like mad. With said due notice given, and within six weeks of moving in, we had moved out.

Since arriving here, my whole world has changed. I honestly can't detail it--there's not much tangible, concrete evidence to support that statement. But nonetheless, I feel as though I've come out of a long, dark tunnel. (Longer than six weeks . . . more like four years.) I'm having more good days than not, with decent energy and a hopeful outlook on the constant struggle that is my chosen vocation. I miss my parents a lot--it was wonderful living near them for the short time that we were able to. I hope that someday we'll be able to live near them again, or that we'll have the financial independence necessary to visit them often. (A vacation home near Sandpoint would be simply lovely, don't you think?)

And that's how we got to Oregon.