02 October 2011

Journey to California

Like the new look?  I figured with the new location, new life, new beginning... a new template was in order. And so... we moved. Hubby and I made the trek cross country with our two cats and are officially residents of California. As I write to you, I'm surrounded by boxes, bags, crap strewn everywhere (I should really be unpacking)-- it's lovely chaos.  To most people it looks like a damn mess, but to me, in my current reflective state, it's the evidence of change, growth, the future... my dreams becoming reality.  Sure, there are still the logistics of daily life: health, bills, jobs, networking (can't forget about those); however, we took the first step.  Many people never even make it out here-- half the battle has ended with our gorgeous new apartment.

Can you believe it's over?! Four years of hoping, planning, stresses-- done. Finished. Of course there'll be new ones in this new place and new culture-- such is life-- but God guides the way and hasn't led me astray yet. 

The planning seems so long ago... almost like a dream...

Okay I'll tell you about it (if you're going to twist my arm).  

After switching our moving company at the last second-- like... a week before the move-- because of their scheduling error, we gathered our things together in loads of boxes. Not without help and not without me pulling an all nighter the last day.  Oi.  Too old for that shit.  Saying goodbye to Appleton was more difficult than expected, especially for my husband. He has two grade school age siblings that he loves very much and vice versa (and I do too fyi); we've spent tons of time with them since we moved back to Wisconsin and have grown close.  I miss those kids-- they're great and watching them grow up the last few years has been amazing.  It makes me excited to have my own (some day WAY down the road).  Fortunately the chill of fall also crept into northern Wisconsin as we prepared to leave-- perfect for pumpkin spice lattes, evening walks, and a reminder of why we love the Midwest so much.

Once the movers came and went, we headed down to Chicago to spend a week with my family and say "so long" to friends.  This was also harder than expected. No I didn't cry when I said goodbye to my parents and drove away in the minivan-- I have a heart of stone, remember?-- but I still felt this sadness. On the Wednesday before we left, I listened in to the choir rehearsal at the church where I was baptized, confirmed, taught chimes, sang in choir myself, got married... yeah... that hit me. Though I haven't been involved in the church for a few years now due to location, it always feels like home when I return to Algonquin.  As I stared at the stained glass windows that open slightly to let in a little air when it gets warm (especially on Easter Sunday), wood beamed ceiling, the creaky wooden pews where my brothers and I drew pictures in the sign-in book during the services as kids and where I later observed the smiling faces of my loved ones when I married the love of my life, I felt an overwhelming calm with a hint of heartache.  God was telling me to let go and find my own home, my own place, my own church in which to plant roots.  Such a bittersweet beginning. Yet it meant so much to see the friends we did, to have home cooked meals with family-- my mother-in-law made an awesome Mexican lasagna and my mom cooked a Thanksgiving meal since we'll be on the West Coast for the holidays this year. How blessed we are to have such amazing people in our lives. And it is such a gift to be missed.

And so... we left for Cali in our own procrastinated time.  You see, my family always left for long road trips at the butt crack of dawn. Make a bunch of checklists, pack the day before, cross off stuff on the checklists, load the van with what you can, double check the checklists, and make sure there are drinks and bakery goods for breakfast in the car.  This routine is probably usual for most people actually, but we march to the beat of our own drum.  You see, hubby and I are night owls. So the Friday we were to leave... we slept in, gathered our things up, had brunch with my parents, then loaded the van (which took an hour!), and left at 2pm.  Go us.  But honestly, we had the BEST timing ever during the whole road trip: hardly any construction slow downs, we missed all the rush hour traffice, and we got to see a Midwestern, Mountain, and Desert sunset-- how wonderful.

I won't bore you with details about the hotels, rest stops, etc. but I will offer a few words of advice based solely on my recent experience (in others words, if you think this advice is complete crap that's A-ok):

1. Mountain driving through Denver is scary and intense if you've never done it before and don't know what to expect. Just sayin'

2. AAA is awesome and totally worth the membership fee. Do it.

3. Get a Next Exit book for any road trip.

4. Always always ALWAYS call ahead to check if hotels take pets. Each individual hotel is different. And double check that they know you've got animals when you check in.

5. If your animals are fine in the car there is no need to sedate them.

6. Even if you don't have to go that bad, pee when you need to pee.

Not only was this move to California all the amazing things I stated above, but it offered me the chance to drive across the United States. My one regret was not being able to turn it into a week long road trip to stop and see the sights (we did Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California in one day).  It's impossible to do with two cats.
I know there is so much crap going on with our country right now in terms of politics, culture, economy, etc... but man... the USA is one GORGEOUS place. You don't realize until you drive through plains, mountains, canyon land, desert, and end at the ocean, how lucky we are to live in such a vast and varied country.  

Life really is one hell of an adventure.

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