Monday, January 7, 2013

Um. What just happened?

Still a full day of packing ahead of us.
December 11, 2012 was the year-mark for the day I uncharacteristically rolled out of Northern California and into the Arizona desert to be with my Lobster*. On December 27, the Irish Travelers (my Lobster and I) hit the road from Chandler, Arizona and relocated to Ft. Morgan, Colorado.  You have probably never heard of Fort Morgan. Me neither. That is because Fort Morgan is agricultural, middle-of-nowhere, not-a-Starbucks-for-50-miles town.  It is flat and brown and, in certain places, pretty smelly.

*Click HERE for Lobster, defined
This life-altering plan developed over a period of, oh, maybe two weeks. One day, someone tells your boyfriend there is a great job for him in Colorado and the two of you have a quick "too bad it's not closer" conversation about it. Then you wake up and you've quit your job, have a couple of weeks to prepare, and haven't quite nailed down some minor details (like "Where will we live?").  

Chances are, at some point, you've heard that quiet voice inside pushing you in a direction you'd rather not go.  Sometimes it's a quiet hint, sometimes an order, and oftentimes it's ignored. The road leading us to Fort Morgan felt like a map being quietly unrolled at our feet that we were gently compelled to follow.  Every obstacle we thought up was countered by a quick and easy remedy. It reminded me, actually, of those recent Carmax commercials:  "I don't even know where to start," someone says. Then a "start" line appears, and they can't help but follow it:   

After Chris accepted his new job offer and I had quit my job, we flew out to see one of the only two (barely) acceptable and available rentals. We looked at the first house, and it was a dump.  Just a total dump. Not the "needs some TLC" farm we'd hoped for.  The owner had literally been patching the out-buildings together with tin and plywood.  Our animals may as well just stand in the open for all the protection those things would provide. The neighbors, who are very close, had a mobile home in their yard, and rusted out vehicles all over the place.  As we drove away, a dog came running off the neighbors' property to chase our car down the road.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself in the local bar, drinking a vodka-cran before noon. 

Option #2 was at least what the owner said it would be - an old, small, very well-maintained and cared for farmhouse.  New paint, not just paint over splintered and breaking-away rotten wood.  There was a chicken coop, some horse stalls, a fenced front yard - but it was really exceptionally depressing looking in the cold grey of the day, with anything that might grow being dead and brown from the cold.  Eight miles out of town, not a soul in sight.  If it had at least been covered in snow, it might have felt more acceptable. I was so disappointed by the first house, that by the time we drove to this one I was holding back tears.  We walked around the property and looked in the windows.  At this point, I was so horrified by the entire town that poor Chris was saying, "Don't worry, we don't even have to consider this one, I just want to look around the property a bit."  Which, in man-speak, means "I am considering this one because we are out of options, but I know you're freaking out, so let's pretend I'm not."  I skulked off to the car.

We then rode in silence for about 2 hours to my uncle's house in Johnstown.  We all sat down together at the kitchen table and had a drink or two ... or three. Knowing I was falling apart, I thought I'd steer away from alcohol. I asked for water, but my cousin brought me a shot of vodka and a Pepsi instead.  Chris, who rarely drinks anything other than Coors Light, accepted shot after shot of the tequila that was offered him.  Eventually I began bawling like an idiot, with my uncle across the table trying talk me into feeling better. "You come from stronger stock than this! You can do this! You have to go where the jobs are, Joy, you have to go where the money is. Do you think I want to live in God Damn Johnstown, Colorado?!"  (This is my family's idea of a pep-talk.)  

Chris sat beside me, looking on in quiet horror as I sobbed uncontrollably.  My cousin and her her friend, discovering the hysteria, came over to help.  "Don't feel bad, we will come pick you up - we can go to Denver and go clubbing! It'll be fun!"  (Needless to say, they are younger, and have a great deal more hope and enthusiasm than me.) "You can come work with us at Wal-Mart, we sell insurance. Seriously, we're making like $10 an hour!"  (Side note, I earned around $50k yearly in California, and was already unhappy about earning $27k as a bankruptcy paralegal in Arizona. As you might imagine, this did not perk me up.)  

The pep talks continued.  My uncle took over.  "YOU ARE NOT HELPING! Get out of here! You make TEN ... DOLLARS ... AN HOUR.  Do you hear yourself?  'Oh come work with us at the Wal-Mart!' She is a LEGAL ASSISTANT! She doesn't want to sell insurance with you!"  My cousin responded, "What's a legal assistant?" Followed by my uncle again:  "EXACTLY. Go on, you're not helping! Jesus!"  At this point, I inexplicably turned on Chris.  "Why are you just sitting there not saying anything? Why aren't you defending me?  Tell them I am not snooty! Tell them how awful that town is! What is your problem?!"  He stared at me, mouth open, speechless.  

Eventually I stopped bawling and we went to bed, only to have to get up and leave, hungover, at 3:00 a.m. for the airport.  All the way home on the plane, I asked for guidance or, at the very least, acceptance, of the life that lay ahead.  By the time we got off the plane, I had some:  "I would be willing to live in the second place we looked at, the rental with the property, if it means we can keep our ponies and chickens.  I don't want to lose our farm."  I don't think I have ever seen a man look so relieved. 

On December 30, 2012, in the dark of night, in the snow, in 19 degree weather, we arrived at our new home: 

Fort Morgan, Colorado - Home Sweet Home
"Do not lament perceived immediate outcomes. It is all part of a flow of energy leading you to the destination your higher self has designed. Be patient.The best things in life are not always presented in pretty packages.  Be open to seeing the whole opportunity. It may give you the hope needed to create heaven.(Excerpt from "Think Through the Experience," December 2012, Inner Whispers)
The preparation, packing, two day road trip and arrival in Fort Morgan, well ... that's a whole other blog!