It happened yesterday. I was standing at the counter, putting icing on a spice cake when The Mister said it. "You're back." Two simple words, but deep with significance. I paused for a moment before I agreed with a confidence I save for few and rare things. I am back.
While I'm not certain I would say that anyone has really missed me (except my husband, who was not only quick to note my return, but willing to celebrate it liberally) I can say without a doubt the I am most certainly glad to be back. Glad to be here. Glad to be on this side of it all. Glad to feel like myself again.
In truth, I haven't "been" anywhere. I've been here. In fact, more often than before, I was in this exact position - sitting at a laptop trying to write something. Only for the past two years, I've been doing it for graduate school. In the course of 24 months, I took 51 credits toward a Master's Degree (and 2/3 of another) that, at least in the short run, took more out of me than the certificate gave back in return. I've been responsible for writing more papers, more blog posts, more reflective responses, for reading more analysis of teaching methods, philosophies and practices and for summarizing my learning (real or imagined) than I even care to recall. It was painful. It was exhausting. It was a hoop that required a lot of sacrifice just to jump through.
No one knows this better than The Mister. He willingly took on additional responsibilities around the house to help ease my burden, and unwillingly was nominated to take over several more. "cooking more often" became "cooking all the time" for him. I may have tagged along on occasion to the grocery store, but other than making pasta every once in a blue moon, he single-handedly kept the house in order, the cupboards and bellies full and the lights on. He bought me gummy bears as though they would ward off stress and bad grades. He tinkered in the garage for all hours on Sundays just to "give me space" (more probably to steer clear of the cursing and crying). And his heart broke for me when I had to drive the 40 minutes to school to use a computer because our dying computer - our SECOND dying computer- was having fits and a deadline was looming. We tried to focus on that distant "someday" when grad school would be over, when we could spend our weekends traveling if we wanted to or doing nothing if we chose. Someday.
So it's fitting that he was the first to say it aloud, to recognize it and name it - that having his wife, stand in the kitchen and bake a cake was a rare event worth celebrating.
In the past two and a half years, we have gotten married, sold two homes, sent Flash off to college, completed graduate school and have now bought our dream home in the country.
Throughout this time of high stress, I've watched our amazing child go off to college as though he were headed over to his best friend's house to spend the night. He took on the challenges of dorm life, class schedules and making decisions on his own with open and eager arms and has flourished in the collegiate environment. He has seized opportunities and made calculated risks that have earned him a good-paying job and an exciting summer experience. His gpa is better than solid, but balanced with reasonableness. His friends continue to increase in number and in quality. We are excited to be a part of his journey. That day you cannot even fathom as a new mother - that day of your first, your only, your baby going off to college, that "someday" happened. And Flash has made it so easy. I cried only once, the night before he left. And not because I was worried about him, or even worried about me, I cried because I wouldn't know everything that happened to him every day anymore. He would have to tell me about his days, I wouldn't be there in the moment every time. It turns out, that's okay, too. Now we look forward to his times at home. We wonder about what he will do "someday". We are spectators on his journey now. But they are comfortable seats.
Three years ago, The Mister spent his "barn money" on a diamond engagement ring. I promised him then that "someday" he would get his barn. When he sold his house in the woods to live in mine in town, I promised him that someday his tractor would have a use again and not to sell it. We'd squeeze it in the garage for now, because someday he was going to want it. Our path has taken us where we dared not dream, to a place we still pinch ourselves to call our own. For The Mister, he now spends his afternoons on the mower or the tractor or moving things from the barn to the garage or the old coop. Instead of deciding if it's worth re-staining the deck, he is deciding which trees need to stay and what underbrush should be cleared to restore the pasture. And he stops on his way up the drive way with a car load of groceries to check out a passing turtle. Giddy doesn't even begin to describe him.
For me, I finally wrote my last grad paper. I celebrated with family and friends and I put all the notebooks away in boxes. I have moved into a home where the fridge not only came with an ice maker, but where every detail in the house is well thought out, beautifully designed and perfect for who we are. In the past week I have adopted the slogan, "When it stops being fun, stop." This has been used liberally to excuse myself from unpacking one.more.box or doing one.more.load.of.laundry. Instead, with obvious work to do in every room, I stopped and read a book from the moment it arrived in the Amazon box to the wee hours of the morning just before The Mister went to work. I have baked cookies, a cake and cooked dinner three nights in a row. I wrote letters to several students and dug out boxes of Flash's old toys when some littles stopped by to visit. Someday I will get it all unpacked. But today, joy is worth doing.
Our move took us away from noisy neighbors, away from the 7-11's of life and into the woods. Instead of owning trampolines and bounce houses, our neighbors have horses and riding mowers. Instead of listening to the kid with the basketball walk down the street at 11:30, we hear bullfrogs, redwinged black birds and crickets. Instead of watching TV we play cards every night, and walk around the property, eating black raspberries off the vines and wondering what kinds of tree this one is.
I am now seven miles from school. Our first day at church I was hugged by two families of former (and probably future) students and one mom who is hoping I have her son this fall (I do). The pastor's son is in my class this year and I had one of the elder's children this past year. My sister lives in this town and so we know the people, the places and the area. Flash said it well the other night when he noted that most people move and then have to settle into their new life, new neighborhood. "For you guys, it's like this has always been your life and you just finally got to live here."
So, I'm back. But in a way, I'm just finally here. Truly here. Rooted here. Focused once again on simple joys and blessings - spice cake that reminds me of Mom; turtles in the bog, deer eating crab apples in the front lawn. I'll bake more cookies, unpack more boxes and hold my husband's hand as we walk through our acres tonight. Life is good. All the time.
For all the years I've known The Mister, we both talked of Someday. Someday we'll have property. Someday I'll write my last grad paper. Someday we'll get a cow just for fun. Someday we'll have a refrigerator that has an ice maker. Someday we'll get new couches. Someday we'll live where we can't see the neighbors. Someday.
Welcome, guests. To Someday Farm. Where Joy isn't something we celebrate once a year, but every day, in every moment.