Note: I did not intend to write (another) novella-length post. One of my New Year’s resolutions should be better editing control. But it’s not the new year yet, so..
It’s a cool, rainy New Year’s Eve in San Antonio. Because it stays green here, winter days like this remind me a bit of Seattle in the spring.
I am in a reflective mood these days for a lot of reasons. I know we won’t be in San Antonio much longer, and I already find myself getting a little pre-nostalgic. Having said that, we are so, so ready to move on. This past year has been one of the most challenging of my life, and one I’m sure I’ll look back on someday and remember with a mix of positive and negative emotions. 2012 was the first full year of my living here, and living with Peter. Over the years before we met, both of us had grown quite accustomed to doing everything on our own, so I guess it’s a testament to how much we love each other that we’ve been able to transition into this new domestic life pretty easily. Having a sense of humor, being each other’s best friend, knowing when to give space, but remembering that we are a team, I think, are the ingredients that helped get us through this most unusual time. As Peter said one day, in a poetic mood, that because of external circumstances, our relationship so far has been like “learning to drive in Wisconsin in the winter. It can only get easier from here.”
I share a lot on this blog, but I want to respect the fact that Peter is a private person. What he’s been dealing with, in a nutshell, is taking on the role as a full-time caregiver for his father here in San Antonio for more than two years. We recently learned that his dad does not have much time left, maybe only weeks. Someday, perhaps, I can write about what a privilege it has been to spend this year getting to know his father, whose mind is sharper than just about anyone’s I know, but whose body is failing him in every possible way. For now, I just can’t. But to be able to support Peter during this time, and assist this family that’s been so good to me feels like it has been my calling, my role to play over the past 15 months. Even with the stress, and living here in a city that’s far from ideal for me, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Besides the situation with Peter’s father, the last few months have presented some other challenges, one after another, to the point where I was convinced the universe was trying to tell me something. For most of this year, my parents have been vacillating between staying together and not, between moving and not. As their only child, this indecision is particularly difficult to live with. Then recently, our Seattle condo rental fell through at the last minute, for bizarre reasons I won’t get into here. However, this is probably for the best, since we are unsure of our exact moving timeline. At this point, we are looking more at March than February.
Then, my aunt passed away in November, and two weeks later, so did a co-worker, of the exact same type of cancer. Both of them had been diagnosed only the month before. Life seemed more fragile to me than it ever had. But there are bright spots to focus on, lessons to take away. I think of this co-worker often: not her death, but her life. She radiated an inner peace and spirituality that I envied. She laughed a lot. She talked to everyone with a smile. She often seemed carefree, without being frivolous. Yes. Filed under “Things to Remember.” “Ways to Be.” And when attending my aunt’s funeral last month, I was reminded of this amazing extended family I have. People I should talk to more, cousins leading amazing lives all over the country. I was proud to introduce Peter to all of them, all of these fascinating people I am lucky enough to call my family.
And now, the year’s good things:
Visits are the best, especially when they are to or from my mom. Sometimes it’s really hard to be away from her so much. In the future, we plan on making living closer a priority. She visited me in February and September, and I went back home to Madison in June and October. I love my hometown so much more when I’m there visiting. It’s a great place to be from, but I am quite sure I am done living there. The best parts? The people. Seeing my mom and dad, best friends from college, other relatives, and extreme happy hours with my beloved old co-workers.
1. Texas road trips: Austin in April. Round Top in August. Both trips were pretty amazing. I find that once we get outside of San Antonio, I actually kind of like a lot of Texas.
1a.) Peter, his dad and I spent a weekend in Round Top for a classical piano concert and the art galleries. It is a truly amazing little place. And I mean LITTLE. Population 80. The sense of tranquility there was indescribable, like going back in time. I’ve never been a country girl, but I can see why people like it. When you get away from just about everything, you remember who you are, and you pay attention to what’s directly in front of you, even if it’s just a quiet breeze rustling through a 100-year-old oak tree. Texas, you have really, really nice trees.
1b.) Austin, I have a not-so-secret crush on you. It’s not hard to see why: Austin reminds me of all of my favorite familiarities of my hometown: huge university, state capitol, tons to do outdoors, and oh, did I mention The Onion is available here? But it’s also different: things are huge in a proud Texas way: roads, shops, even the bars. The live music choices are endless, an Austin stereotype, but a well-founded one. We randomly ended up at the Continental Club one night, and we were treated to some of the best live (country-ish) music I’ve ever heard. Peter and I had a magical three-night stay at a guesthouse tucked away in the rolling hills just outside of downtown. The owner was a music producer/filmmaker with a big, gentle dog who visited us in our house quite often. We canoed in the serenely beautiful Lady Bird Lake (more of a river), disturbing about 500 snapping turtles sunning themselves on logs along the banks. We mini-golfed. (I won both the easy and hard courses. Hidden talent.) We ate at a pizza parlor. We enjoyed delicious, hipster-made slushies from a food cart. It was a real vacation. We probably would have visited more if it wasn’t for the horrendous traffic between San Antonio and Austin.
1c.) We swam in the ocean this year, two times, over the 4th of July weekend and in September, on Padre Island near Corpus Christi. Whenever I am in the ocean feeling childlike euphoria and buoyancy, and the perfect Gulf temperature, and salty wind, and Peter holding my hand as we jump through waves, I think, “why don’t we swim in the ocean more?” We, the collective we, as humans, should swim in the ocean more than we do. It is very, very good for the soul.
2. THREE trips to Seattle: one on the train from Los Angeles in January (highly recommended), one in July for Lindsae and Steve’s wedding (and seeing Amy! and Stephanie!), and one in October to start getting our move in order. To be continued…
For most of this year, I worked at a small contemporary art museum in San Antonio. I’ll be honest, this city intimidates me because it is just so different than what I’m used to, and so much about it is outside my comfort zone. So being able to creep into the arts scene here, even in a small way, was a big step for me. When I started, I didn’t think I’d be working in arts education, let alone developing programs (this is what happens when you have about five full-time staff members and one of them leaves), but it turned out that I kind of loved it. Another note to self, for future reference: “Just try it.”
Other arty things? Helping out Peter in his art studio. Going to galleries, museums, and missions. Outdoor festivals. Buying art. Taking photos. Pinning pretty Pinterest pictures. In some form, I like to keep art a daily part of my life.
Resolutions for 2013: I’m not stating any specific resolutions. The lists in my life do plenty to remind me of everything that should be done. But in 2013, this is what I will try to be mindful of: do more, think less, be less anxious, don’t plan excessively. You’d think after all this time and all these surprises you should know that over-preparing is a sometimes useless venture.
Once we get through this tough patch, there’s a lot of things I’m excited about that are coming up: a couple big trips in the works, hopefully starting a new job, and, of course, moving across the country (again). Seattle, see you soon (again).
Happy, happy New Year.