If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that there’s been a bit of an event going on. Just your run of the mill, minor little GLOBAL FUCKING PANDEMIC THAT UPSET THE FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIETY OMGGGG AHHHHHH HEEELPPPPPP.
The last two years have sucked. Sucked enough that it definitely feels like a lot longer than two years.
“Two years? Are you sure? I don’t remember having this many grey hairs or neuroses or imaginary friends to function as poor substitutes for in-person interaction oh hi there Sally GET OFF THE CEILING I WON’T TELL YOU AGAIN”
Like many people over the course of the pandemic, we opted to move. The compelling list of arguments on the “stay” side of the scales were heavily outweighed by things on the “leave” side. I could work from home, we could get a nicer house with a lot more space. We could move somewhere with better schools, more access to nature. My closest friends were moving too, and so the strong ties we had with the Bay Area were also starting to unravel. It was time to go.
Portland seemed like the right choice. Progressive, cheaper than the bay area, and close enough I could fly back occasionally if I wanted to see people (And one day, when the world is more sane, I might just do that!). With the decision made, we began planning, and packing. I may have obsessed about planning. I got deep into the intricacies of every single facet of packing and moving and planning and scheduling and measuring driveways and cleaning appliances and scouring the internet for the external dimensions of shipping containers. The production of stress hormones throughout the next few months reached levels thus far unexplored. It was a hard time, even knowing it was a logical choice to give our little family a better life.
We ended up buying a house from a tract builder, meaning that they would be building it for six months (or thereabouts). During that time, I flew up to Portland occasionally to check on progress, meet our sales agent, building supervisor, and whoever else was a necessary part of the process. I made a decision to present myself as normal as possible during the course of this long and costly financial transaction in an effort to not give anyone a reason to not do right by me. So on my trips up here, no nails painted, no whacky earrings. Lame.
Did I mention I was stressed? I did? Oh, well. Just in case you forgot, I was stressed. Stratospherically stressed. Work was no picnic, let me tell you. I certainly let it bleed too far into my home life. And outside of that, most of my free time was spent on weighing up various options for moving. And strategizing about moving. And worrying about a new place, with new people. Can I make new friends? Can I fit in? When people find out this thing about me in this new place will I be a pariah? How will it affect my son? Will other parents reject me? Him? Is this the right decision? For months, my nights were largely sleepless affairs of tossing and turning and obsessing about every little detail and potential social fallout. I feel like the moon saw so much of me as I lay awake worrying, it probably thought “Whoa there, that boy needs to calm the fuck down”. And that’s the moon talking, you know she’s seen some shit.
With presenting as normal to normies, and with all the stress making my noggin do loops, I guess I put Liz in a box. Figuratively, at least, to reappear once I had all my mental faculties back in place.
Oh but we were moving too, so I guess I literally put her in a box. or two. Probably at least six actually? I have a lot of shit. Makeup and dresses and shoes and skirts and accessories and wardrobes all packed away neatly until we eventually arrive and unpack.
And so we moved.
Apart from the long car ride, the kid throwing up in the back, the books that got wet and mouldy, the supply chain issues that meant we couldn’t order all the things we needed immediately, things went pretty smoothly. We’re moved in, we have a functional house, and we really like it.
We took some settling in time. It was mid-February before I felt like it was time to dress again, a full nine months since the last time, except now there were some added worries that I still haven’t resolved.
I was pretty pleased how it all turned out, given the long break. I always have this worry that I’ll have forgotten how to do makeup, but at this point in my life, maybe I’ve just got my routine mostly memorised and it’s like riding a bike.
My kid hadn’t seen me dressed up in nine months either. He took a good hard look at me and asked if my hair regrew overnight. I told him no, it’s fake hair. He’s older now (five! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?) and I figured he might have some questions or reactions, but really that was the end of it. He continues to be a beautiful miracle, and is thankfully a lot less of a shitbag lately.
The problem I have now is that I’m terrified. I need to somehow meet new people and make friends and have them be cool and all with all my foibles. Will their kids be allowed to be friends with my kid? Will parents want to hang out with me? Will my kid get bullied because their dad is different? Will we be largely ostracised from the immediate community? Can Liz thrive here? I’m hyper-focused on the fact that any barrier, however small, that comes between making new connections can breed distance. I haven’t even figured out if I’m comfortable going down the street.
Ultimately, everyone wants to be happy. I’ve put Liz in a box for a while, and I’m glad she’s back out of the box – but it’s scarier out here than what I’ve been used to. I managed to carve out a corner of SF for myself. Can the same thing happen out here? People will get to know me and either self-select themselves in or out of this tiny circle. Maybe that’s just how it goes, and maybe that’s just how circles are built. Maybe I need to give myself some time, and some space to figure it out and be brave again. Dig out another little corner, put down some roots and see what happens. I’ve done this before, I can do it again. I hope. I just know I can’t live in a box.
It really does feel like starting from scratch, like coming out again and again. I feel like it’s been a while, though. I feel like at some point I had it all figured out, and now I’m back in the shallow end of the pool trying to swim again.
In any case, the derping never stops.
And hey, I have a new place to take photos, if I can ever find the time…