Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Old Dream, Reborn

2011 November 10

When Raymond and I were first together, we wanted a dog. A puppy actually. We were completely ignorant of some many factors at that time, that we got our dog from folks who had an ad in the Pennysaver, a "free to good home" ad. When I called to inquire about the puppies, I apparently offended the gentleman who placed the ad by asking if there were still puppies available. He responded to my question by telling me, "These ain't no mutts!" Seems his AKC registered Lab had managed to mate with the AKC registered Springer Spaniel next door. The result was a litter of puppies of which he was attempting to rid himself. He said that we were "in luck" because there was one that a woman had returned because her husband didn't want it. With stars in our eyes, a song in our hearts ("Me and You and a Dog Named Boo") we headed off to suburbia to check out the puppy. The story in a nutshell, was that the puppy crawled up into my lap and licked my face. Needless to say, we took home a puppy that night. 

We named her Blue. It was the only name we could agree on. So, our song became, "Me and You and a Dog Named Blue" We were in our very early 30s and loved traveling when we could and camping in our little backpacking tent and sometimes in our sad and pathetic Ford Pinto. Blue was our constant companion. She was our sentry when we camped. She would spend long nighttime hours staring out the screened tent flap. She spent time in NC at both the beach and the mountains, as well as in TN, VA, PA, NY, VT, NH, MA, MD, and WV. We often joked that Blue was more well traveled than most of the people in my family. Even after we added Jake, the yellow Lab mix to our family, we still traveled and camped when we could. 

Then "real life" began to interfere. We both worked jobs we disliked. We faced the burden of infertility and the death of the idea of "parenting". We bought a house I never wanted, which was always too much house for us. The neighborhood we lived in began to decline. We dealt with family emergencies, aging parents and family atrophy that we didn't understand. 

There were good times, too. 

We discovered that you could rent a house to vacation in and if there were beds, friends and/or family would come along. Our wanderlust became funneled into two trips to NC most years, one in the February and one in the fall. Raymond still had a job he disliked and in addition, he worked nights, which meant working from 11PM to 8 AM. I was more fortunate, I found a series of jobs as a nanny, which gave me somewhere to put all my  maternal leanings. And In between I also worked part time as a veterinary assistant and discovered I had a gift of empathy. We added and lost dogs and a cat to our family. We never had more than three dogs at a time, but that seemed to be a magic number for us. 

Fast forward to now. I awoke from what seemed to be a very long dream about 3AM. The dream had much  to do with our first dog, Blue. When I awoke, I spent some time reviewing the dream, as I knew it was important and I didn't want to miss any insights. Since I had no paper and pencil at my  bedside to chronicle the dream, I knew I had to do my best to review, evaluate and remember before allowing myself to go back to sleep. (And I am placing a notebook and pen at the bedside today!)

I won't bore you with all the details of the dream. Instead I will tell you what the dream showed me. "Me and You and a Dog Named Blue" became lost. After many false starts and jarring stops and inadequate direction, we are finding our way back to who we were. Gypsies, Old Hippies, 'fly-by-the -seat-of-our-pants' travelers, free spirits - this is who we once were. The dream showed me a part of us that I had nearly forgotten about. It was profound. It eased the jitters that I have been having about getting on the road. It reminded me of the who and what we were and can be again. Wherever the dream came from, I am grateful for it. I am grateful to recognize through whatever means, that we are who we are, regardless of whom we've tried to be over that past 30 years. And with that realization comes a sense of relief and calm.

We have been very blessed, I freely admit that.  Because of the when and where of our lives, we now as retired folks, have a good pension that will allow us to pick up where we left off nearly 30 years ago. But because of what we've been doing for the past 30 years, we get to upgrade from a tent and a Pinto to a motor home. We will travel the highways and byways until we get our fill. Raymond, me and a dog named Grey. It might not be as easily sung as the Blue song, but it is who we are and we celebrate that! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 November 7

Lots on my mind

I have been releasing more of my stuff lately. Physical items and emotional baggage, as well. It is sometimes a difficult process, but even when hard, there are rewards. Last week we donated about 25 boxes of "stuff". Except for a few appliances, I really cannot remember the contents of most of those containers. Interesting how I was hanging on to things I now cannot even recall! This process has been a long one for me and it continues still. In the time that we have been looking at motor homes and planning our escape from the city of our birth, I have been slowing ridding myself of extraneous stuff. So, my guess is that it has been a gradual, maybe three year journey for me to this point.

It has been the same amount of time for my DH, but his approach is so different. He has only begun to be able to let go of stuff in the past month or two. There are some things he still has difficulty parting with and that's OK. His process is different from mine. He had a major breakthrough today. He was able to pack into boxes for donation all except about ten of the books he's been holding on to. And, in being able to let those go, he also frees up the bookcase that his Dad made for him 30+ years ago. And since the bookcase is something his father made for him, he can't donate it to strangers. While it could've been stored at my brother's house, Raymond instead decided to ask his nephew if he would like it. That's a big step!

Yesterday, we packed up and moved to my brother's house all the art work that has hung on our walls for the last twenty years. Well, not ALL the art work. Some pieces were already down and donated or sold. But the ones that we couldn't bear to part with, are now living at my brother's.  I am very fond of things that hang on the wall. I love prints, pictures, painting and photographs. It is a bit of an obsession, actually. One of my favorite subjects is dogs, in particular, Labrador Retrievers. Usually, the piece evokes some emotional response related to one of the five dogs we've lived with over the years. The most special ones will remain with my brother until such time as we are again in a stationery, earthbound abode.  I am sorry that I gave away my Salvador Dali print, "The Sacrament of the Last Supper". But, that is such a small regret, that it doesn't really matter.

The real estate agent has been here. The house will be listed by mid November.  A clean out specialist has been here, evaluated what we haven't gotten rid of and given us an estimate for clearing out what will be left. I still need to buy a new kitchen door and have my neighbor install it. There are things to be delivered to my sister and to another of my brothers. Raymond has some clothing he cannot part with and that too will be stored at my brother's. Good thing he has a big house with an enormous attic! 

We are nearer to departure. Tomorrow morning Raymond has an appointment with the orthopedic doc regarding his ruptured Achilles tendon. His physical therapist has said he needs to strengthen his calf and regain the ability to push off with his toes. I'm assuming that tomorrow we will find out how much longer R will need to be attending PT.  That, in turn, will determine our actual "get on the road" date. 

Once we have an actual date, we will be able to do all the scheduling and address changing that remains. And we will be able to sign over our car to it's new owner.  We also need to have paperwork done for assigning to my brother, Power of Attorney, so that he can accept offers on our house.  And then there will be the last minute getting rid of the bits of furniture we've been hanging onto while we prepare: a few lamps, our bed and bedside table, two living room chairs,  a small table, the cabinet that holds the TV  and video equipment. Not a lot, really.  

I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I can almost see Pittsburgh in the rear view mirror, which brings up a whole bunch of mixed emotions.  But that's for another blog.