One Year in…

In the year that we’ve been in Michigan, I’ve gained 15 lbs, my hair is going gray and I’ve turned into a coffee drinker. I’ve completely transformed into a frumpy old lady.  I am not at all happy.  I tried really hard to write this post with out coming out and saying how unhappy I am but there’s really no way around it, and I don’t think anyone who’s talked to me in the past year is at all surprised that I’m not exactly loving my life here in Michigan.

I don’t regret coming back to Michigan.  There have been a lot of days when I have questioned that decision because for me life hasn’t gotten better.   But now my lack of sleep and lack of money is due to school and not just trying to support my little family.  The stress I’m experiencing now is temporary.  I didn’t see an end to our difficult situation in Virginia, so its still the right decision but living it day to day is very difficult.

I believe that ultimately I am responsible for my own happiness.  Two little phrases keep popping into my head whenever I try to solve my unhappiness problem.  The first one is “If you don’t like where you are move… you’re not a tree.”  Ah… if only it were that easy.  Returning to Virginia wasn’t in our original plan.  When we packed up the house I gave my piano away, and as John was loading it on the truck he said, “We’ll hold onto it until you come back.”   I felt that was extremely optimistic.  I wasn’t planning to be back.  Our move to Michigan was suppose to be permanent.  But after a month of being in Michigan I decided I belonged in Virginia and all my decisions since have been geared toward getting us back as fast as I can.

I miss my community.  Since I didn’t have much of a social life in Virginia anymore I thought I would be okay moving to Michigan.  I thought it wouldn’t matter if I did nothing in Virginia or if I did nothing in Michigan.  Only after leaving did I realize how much the Roanoke community was a part of my life.  Sure, I never made plans anymore more and I missed a lot of big events since having Annelise, but the community was woven into my life. I didn’t necessarily need to make plans, wherever I went there would be friends.  If I went for coffee in the mornings, I could pretty much guarantee running into someone I knew.  If there was a band playing I wanted to hear, I’d just go and know some of my friends would be there.  I don’t have that here.

I also miss being among like minded individuals.  I’m a non-christian, pro-choice, liberal, feminist.  To almost everyone around me, even my family, I’m the enemy.  While they would probably not consider me an enemy the fact that they are fighting against everything I am fighting for puts us on opposite sides of just about everything.  For the most part we just avoid controversial subjects, but I have some acquaintances and coworkers who aren’t afraid to let me know just how wrong I am; my daughter is against God’s plan, raising her without religion is akin to child abuse, and I’m not going to be an effective nurse because without God I will be incapable of showing compassion (yep, someone actually said that to me).  Since moving to Michigan I’ve spent a lot of time crying in bathrooms.

So I don’t like where I am.  I’m not a tree, I can move.   But I can’t.  This is where I need to be right now.

The other little phrase that keeps popping into my head is “Bloom where you’re planted.”  That’s not so easy either.  In order to bloom here I need to put down some roots, that’s going to make it harder to move.  Ever since I decided that we would go back to Virginia as soon as I finished school, I’ve been in a mad dash to get done.  The week in between winter and spring semester I came to the realization that this mad dash might not be worth it.  I was communicating with my daughter via Facetime because I was working so much.  I missed her.  I missed being a parent.  My parents sort of took that over while I was working and going to school.  It was my mom that was getting her dressed, fixing her meals and putting her to bed at night when I wasn’t there and it felt like I was away more than I was home.  When I was there between shifts and classes I was studying.  She’d curl up in a chair in my room because she wanted to be near me, and that was our life.  I didn’t like it.  So I decided to slow down.

We’ve moved into an apartment.  While I appreciate my parents help, I want to be the one raising my daughter.  I’m not going to GVSU this fall.  I’ll go back to MCC.  I need one class (possibly two if I need to retake Chemistry) to get into their nursing program.  In the spring and summer I’ll take the last two classes I need for the Grand Valley BSN program and then decide whether to go straight for my BSN or get my ADN at MCC first.  That puts us in Michigan at least a year longer than I had planned.

I’m not thrilled about it.  There’s a lot of anxiety.  I feel like by slowing down I’m conceding and now we’ll never leave and I’ll be stuck here forever.  But if I slow things down maybe I’ll find the time to build some sort of life here and then I won’t be so unhappy.  I’ll be closer to bike trails so I can ride more and this winter I can teach Annelise to ski.  Maybe if I get out more I’ll meet more people and build a community here.  I think having our own space and feeling more in control of our lives is going to help (I’m a control freak, have I ever mentioned that?).  I’m not happy about being in an apartment.  I swore she’d always have a house, with a yard and a dog.  You know… all those things we use to have before we moved.  Of course we still have Kikapu, but she’s more of a cat.  Annelise wants a dog that will run with her.

So that’s me at a year into our Michigan adventure; exhausted, stressed out, and unhappy, but attempting to make the best of it.  Annelise on the other hand is doing great.  For the past year she’s had every kid’s dream… to live at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  She’s excited about our new adventure in apartment living.  As we were walking up to the building the other day she said, “Lots of people live here.  They’re our neighbors and some of them will be our friends.”  While her mother is a pessimist, she is an optimist.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the things she’s done this past year…

June…

Asparagus festival, swimming lessons and Dirt Dawgs.

 

July…

Country Dairy, Lewis’ Farm Market and Floyd Fest.

 

August…

County Fair, and Pentwater Homecoming.  First trip to the dentist.

 

September…

The start of school and a trip to the zoo.

 

October…

More Lewis fun and Halloween.

 

November…

Baking banana bread with Grandma, and Thanksgiving at Aunt Sara’s.

 

December…

Grandpa was installed as President of the West Michigan Fire Chiefs and of course Christmas!

 

January…

Finally some snow and a happy Birthday.

 

February…

A Valentine’s Date to the Brown Bear and trip to VA to celebrate John Henry’s Birthday.

 

March…

The last of the snow, the first signs of spring and lots of long days watching Netflix’s while I study.

 

April…

Bike riding and tree planting.

 

May…

Mother’s Day, saying good-bye and a garden.