Saturday, November 21, 2009

In a hiatus

We've reached the point we knew would come: we've temporarily worked ourselves out of a job. The last big project was splitting the firewood, which we completed a couple of weeks ago. There is still much clearing to do, but it's on the waterfront. The waterline backs up sufficiently for us to walk on the shore, enabling us to do that work, but not until deep winter, when there is a more-or-less permanent north wind blowing water out of the creek. (Our tides here are almost entirely driven by the prevailing winds instead of the moon.)

And so, what to do? Psychologically we are are not permanent yet because we really don't "live" anywhere--this current roof over our heads is a mere way-station, populated with as many of our things as necessary to make life possible, but it's not really ours. We have done all the day trips in the region that can reasonably be done between sunrise and sunset, and haven't really discovered anything anywhere that makes us want to return. Our two home bases, Edenton and Elizabeth City, are well served by restaurants, but very poorly by movies, so we are well fed, but other entertainment comes mainly via either Netflix or DVR'd movies off the TV. We do scare up the occasional odd job: we're working on the boat and dock at the moment, preparing to install new seats on the boat and making the lift run more efficiently. We want to paint the wicker furniture we've found in antique stores--the pieces are in excellent shape but their white needs touching up, and it makes sense to have that done before we move. It seems to be staying warm enough here well into autumn for us to be afforded the occasional 60-degree day that makes that outdoor job possible.

Otherwise, strings of empty days loom ahead. I'm more OK with that than Steve, who was not raised for introspection or a life of the mind. He does welcome the occasional day off, but usually as a reward for some just-completed hard work, which is his normal medium. When he gets down to spending hours playing Monopoly on the computer, it's clear he's scraping bottom.

We've been in one stage or another of "move mode" for about two years now, from the disruption of preparing the Arlington house for sale, going room to room dismantling and re-creating (remember that?), to the emotional roller-coaster of the selling process, to the physical move itself, to making ourselves ready to hit the ground running when we finally take possession of the new house, free to tackle all those new chores with the big exterior work behind us. We're very smart, very efficient.

But we've been living in anticipation all this time. Our present has been completely filled with preparation for the future. I'm the first to acknowledge it could be a hell of a lot worse--at least we have a future, and a very bright one at that, to prepare for. But what I wouldn't give for a group of friends who were a mere phone call away for an invitation to dinner and conversation. That day will come, I know. But it's not here yet.

19 comments:

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

It´s a strange feeling when one realises that most things are done :-) and one gets a break before the next period of work that will come. I think it´s ok as long as the break doesn´t continue to long, because if it does I become really lazy :-) :-)

I didn´t know that one could get monopoly on the computor. I think that would fit me. I can´t play most other gamnes because I get so stressed that I wants to hit something :-)
Have a great day now!
Christer.

Linda - SE PA said...

Good to hear from you with an update.

Your commentary rings so true. Transitioning, as you are doing, is a challenge. I was reminded of living fairly close to a military base and meeting teens my own age. They were glad for friendship yet fully understand they would be moving on when they had to. Life living out of a suitcase - so to speak.

I did a transition of waiting for a tenant to leave my already committed to lease for two weeks. We had belongings in a storage center, friends and family. Another experience was a month spent at one of the "efficiency rental hotels". That was more challenging shuffling through a small kitchen - two chairs and a table and having a huge bed with two chairs next to it. That was it - plus the basics provided. So, I would sit and watch hours of tv or read my book. Yet, I think of the many times I wanted a "something" that was in storage or packed away and become very frustrated as I had to wait.

Online games pass time and when I participated, I met a few folks who I partnered with whenever they were on line - Canasta being my game of choice. It was fun for the time, yet when your heart and soul yearns for your home to be in order and you are out of "busy work" or "busy whatever" - perhaps, it is time to find a new interest to develop to keep you excited.

Zoey and Me said...

Have you tried taking up drinking? It really doesn't matter what's going on around you when you're truly shitfaced. And hey, when you wake up, the house will be ready to move into. You could get Steve to drive you from alcohol rehab right to the house. I promise you, it would be like a no brainer, not remembering how you even got home. Joking aside, it must be that achy time when both of you are anxious and the move in date is just around the corner. I felt a little of that here ten years ago but had family nearby and could travel to well known haunts. And we have sunshine year 'round so there was always a museum to see or concert or something to take our minds off the progress of building a house. I did amuse myself changing plans for my work bench in the garage. I think that was time consuming because when I finally made the 50th change I even surprised myself how the carpenter pulled it together. It would have never happened that way if I didn't have a few days of "nothing" planned.

Ravel said...

Transition is not a word that means nothing. It's a lot of work (I'm still in it!). But a break is welcome to let the dust go down and maybe see better along the future way.
I know you are smart... :-)

Ralph said...

Christer, we do what we gotta do, as they say. I don't mind a little down time, but Steve doesn't react to it well, and it's no fun having fun alone, so....

I think his Monoploy came as part of his original computer package. Me, I've discovered the addictive nature of Scrabble on Facebook....

Ralph said...

Linda, you've indeed done your share of transitioning. We're going through all the same stuff but it's for the better part of a year, and there's also the social dislocation. The only friends we have are hundreds of miles away--we've not been in a position to cultivate a new group here. The world will look very different when that happens.

Ralph said...

HA! Z&M, if I thought my liver could survive an 8-month binge I might take you up on the idea. But I want to be alive when all this is over!

Steve's doing his share of "workbench plans" on everything from the deck to electrical designs for the dock and grounds to additions for the shed..that kind of stuff is what keeps him going.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Ralph, you know you and Steve can hop in the car and come see us in Cincinnati any time you like. It's only a mere 12 or so hours away through lovely West Virginia and Southern Ohio. We'll keep the lights on!! John

Ralph said...

Ravel, back when we were in the thick of clearing the brush, our breaks came on weekends, and they were welcome. We explored the entire region looking for interesting restaurants, antique stores, etc. Now we've done all that and really are ready to settle in and make the new house our own. Eight months is a long time....

Ralph said...

John, I'd almost say, what the hell, we might as well. I can't think of a better place for Thanksgiving, that's for sure! But I just started defrosting our little 12 lb. bird this morning, and I'm actually looking forward to doing a big meal. Never had a chance to in Arlington because we were always either with you or at my sister's. But it's comforting to be assured of the perpetual welcome mat...

Nan said...

Your post made me ache for you. We all say we're lucky but still there are things in life we really want and need, and gosh if we can't have them at this age, when can we? I 'know' you from Nan and Kat and Jeff.

Ralph said...

Thank you, Nan. The best that can be said, and it's entirely true, is that this endless limbo state has a visible end, at which point we can set about truly creating a new life. That's what ultimately keeps me going.

Cuidado said...

Walk together is a suggestion. As you said you don't live in a neighbourhood for walking but I'm sure you could find a park of something. Or you could dance. I'm very physical (and a bit hyperactive) and have to have something to 'do'. You could play monopoly and scrabble on the real boardgames and enjoy the time without fretting for something to do. I guess that is more advise for Steve than you. Wait. You didn't ask me for advise did you. Gulp.

Ralph said...

Please don't apoloigize for trying to help, Cuidado. The impulse is very kind and I appreciate it very much. We're just going through a dry spell, is all...every day has 24 hours, it's just some feel longer and some shorter. We'll make it.

And I want to thank y9u for something else while I'm here: I discovered only yesterday that you wrote very complimentary and touching words to me in comments on the final installment of those autobiographical essays I did for the Peace Corps Worldwide website. You said you even brought your daughter in to read the last paragraph. I am very happy you got something out of it. That site doesn't give its writers a way to subscribe to their own comments, or I'd have acknowledged you much sooner.

Cuidado said...

You're welcome, Ralph. Those were good essays. Glad you weren't offended by the suggestion either. There's nothing worse than boredom. I always have to find something to do.

Paula said...

Transitions are evolutionary to be sure and yours seems to have hit a plateau. The right connections -- whatever they may be -- are bound to happen, sometimes when you least expect. Once that happens you'll feel much more a sense of home and place. At least that's been my experience. Looking forward to talking in person next time you're in this neck of the woods. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Steve.

Ralph said...

Paula, welcome back from that fab trip to Italy. Saw the pics on FB and am totally jealous. Wouldn't it have been cool if we had taken Michele and John up on their invitation for Thanksgiving and we could have met up in Cincinnati? That'll happen--although now it's M&J's turn to come our way, which they'll do sometime next heaer when we're moved in.

Life has improved a great deal since I wrote this post--things are jumping at the construction site and it seems we are dashing forward with trim and other decorative details. I've asked it before and I'll ask it again: how comes it feels like we're accomplishing something when we spend a ton of money????

LONELY RIVERS said...

Sending you good wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Loved the smokey dreamy music choices! LR

Jeff said...

Ralph - you should know that you're never finished with a house! Enjoy the lag time...only means that something is growing to the "needs attention" stage...

Then again, there's "home"...

Hope you had a great holiday! You've got lots of your own new adventures in front of you!

- Jeff