Sunday, May 13, 2007


First off, I love this book. It is my new favorite non-fiction-- what, don't you categorize your favorite books? Read it, especially if the concept of eating locally appeals to you. Or gardening. Or...yeah. Just read it.
I've been feeling so restless, lately. Perhaps it's the weather, perfect late spring here in Virginia; Texas sure didn't look like this. We got an email from our CSA farm, detailing the pickup times and dates-- although the start date of the season depends, apparently, on when the strawberries ripen. I love the idea of my kitchen filled to the brim with fresh veggies, and of 'having' to learn new recipes to deal with them.

I feel restless, partly because I'm being held hostage by my body for a little while. The Big MC was almost four weeks ago to the day, and I am waiting for "normal post-MC cycle no. 1", before we can start trying to make a new Grain-of-Rice. Except that we decided to retire that embryonic nickname, in the way that the jersey numbers of great atheletes are retired. There will never actually be another Grain of Rice, although Don has suggested Oat Flake for the next. (This is why the naming of actual children--as opposed to embryos--will not be falling into his hands.) If I were "normal", then my period would start tomorrow, and after that, full steam ahead on Project Oat Flake. As it is, I don't feel very PMS-y and there's no telling when it'll actually show up.

Perhaps the restless is because Don and I are getting married, starting a family. (I hope.) Big, life-lasting changes. But I want to settle down. I'm tired of the pattern of our life: move, stay a few years, move, repeat. We moved from Texas to Vermont not long after starting our relationship. My reasoning for that move was that I didn't want to get stuck in Texas, as anyone who's been to (that city) for more than a few days can understand, I'm sure. I was born there, raised there, was attending a university less than a mile from my old high school. I was entertaining a suffocating vision of graduating from that school, getting a job, buying a house, all in the same miserably hot, monotonous, boring city and its suburbs. Naturally, high-tailing it to a university in Vermont to study environmentalism and business was the logical response. And Don, blessed with wanderlust as he is, was willing to come along.

After graduating from that university we came back, even though I'd learned to love Vermont in those few short years. Because I missed my family. Because I was flying home two, three times a year to see my parents, sister, brother. Because the career possibilites for Don in his field up there were almost nil. But it only took another year and a half to get that suffocating-in-the-concrete-rimmed-heat feeling, the drowning-in-the-suburbs-blues. We discussed it, decided that if any advancements came to Don that would take us away again, we would go for it. We made a list of potential cities by looking at every place that his company had hotels and yes-or-noing it. Detroit, Houston, and L.A. all got nos. This town, among others, got a yes. So, we come here, to Virginia.

It's been about six months now since I moved, and I like it here. I like that any road will take you into the "country" within ten minutes. No suburbs. I like the smells: in the early morning, our front yard smells like maple syrup. We have a big old maple there, but I don't know if it's the kind that makes syrup, or if that's where the smell is coming from. It is intriguing. At various times, I've noticed the smells of clover, rain, gunpowder (last night, college kids celebrating the end of the semester), lilacs, honeysuckle, and manure-probably drifting in from the farms just out of town, like the one we now belong to. Having lived in Texas' Gardening Zone 8 and Vermont's chilly 4, I feel like I'm splitting the difference in the best way here, where it is possible to grow pretty much anything. A gardener's paradise, for all that I have nothing but four pots of impatiens and a tumbled mix of climbing green beans, nastutiums, and morning glories waiting to climb up their trellis. We planted all of those from seed, hoping to screen our front porch better from the road.

It's not that I feel restless to move again, but that I want to stop moving and put down some roots, for once. I feel restless to make some plans with permanence, to plant something other than annuals. If this place is IT, then lets get planning. House, acreage, whatever. If it's not, (because he is nowhere near as thrilled as I am, something about the job or whatever) then let's figure out where we want to go for all, and do that. I will be honest about something here, about the jobs. I don't see my job as a career, right now. If we ever successfully spring-off, my plan will be to quit the job or at least cut back to part time, and then have another baby, and then quit. I think that the whole 'Work--Don't Work' difficult-decision thing only applies to women who either make substantial money or who really get something from their work-- satisfaction, fufillment, respect, what-have-you. I make about 1/3 what Don does. I work at a job that doesn't really suit me, that doesn't do anything for me personally, but keeps me in lattes and health insurance. For me, it's a no-brainer that if I had a baby, I would want to "stay home".

Don and I both fantasize about country livin'. We both, independently, want a rural home, wooded lot, huge garden, chickens. Okay, maybe I'm the only one who wants chickens. I've mentioned this before, but the feeling has intensified lately, for all of the reasons above. The difference is that Don is okay with buying a house (if we can) and then leaving again soon, in two or three years. I want to stay. What's the point, if we just move again? Just to secure a nicer view, for the few more years here? But, his job and career come into play. There's nowhere for him to go around here, none of the career-advancing jumps that he's always itching to go for. One of the reasons we left Vermont, after all. He's not that thrilled with the position that he has here, and definitely wouldn't see this job as the top of his ladder. But in his industry, a new position means a new hotel, either within the company or not. He's already at the best hotel in this town, so a promotion means another move. And no promotion means a much-less-than-satisfied-Don, a frustrated Don. That's not what I want, either. But is there a solution at all? Convincing Don that he likes it here more than he thinks, that being further from town would make it so much better that he'll be happy to stay? I don't think that will work. Convincing myself that I'm fine with pulling up the tent stakes again, and probably again after that? That's not going to happen either. Somewhere in this mire is a compromise, I just don't see it yet.

So I feel stuck. As though I know that we're only here for another two years or so, but that there's not much I can do to change that, or to make it better. The possibility of returning to Texas always hovers, but... no. No more endless 8-lane highways, smog, sterile apartment complexes, drought, 100+degree summers for weeks at a time. It's just not worth it to live in a place that we dislike that much, even for a lower cost of living and better career options.


Benjamin said...

I never really pictured you as a country girl (or a hobbit lass living in the shire), You always seemed so urbane to me. But, who knows, I could be wrong. Maybe you'll adapt well to country living. Do you mind having to drive a bit to shop?

Mara said...

Nope! And books, you can shop for from home, no trying-on neccessary. Now, the lattes might be a problem. An espresso maker might be required for me to make the move...