Yes, yes, we are home from our 3 weeks away. A week and a half ago I was watching the Wisconsin landscape slide by from my seat next to Dan, imagining the post I'd write when we got home, about how much easier it is to road trip with older kids. Mostly we listen to stories - this trip was about Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis - and the girls draw and read to themselves. I crochet or knit, trying to keep my eyes off the road in an effort to not add to the stress of the drive with my sudden gleeps and intakes of breath. Sometimes it even looks like this:
But in the more real-world version, someone was complaining because the sun was in their eyes or the story wasn't loud enough or someone was poking them and there was construction on the road, and by the last (9-hour) day my fairytale post was dust. We were so glad to get home.
Then we learned that the sump pump in our basement had broken, and the water rose to the point of floating our plastic tubs we were storing down there, overturning them and letting water in to soak old letters, photos, baby clothes...
It was heart-sinking. Overwhelming.
We peeled apart sheets of letters after dismantling the soggy envelopes and hung them around the house and yard, hoping they would dry before Wednesday's thunderstorm. Envelopes with my gramma's handwriting, years of letters from good friends, long before email, treasured letters from siblings, old scripts and playbills, notes from our spiritual warrior about our wedding ceremony, notes from the several weddings I have officiated at, postcards from our parents...
I kept thinking about people who lose their homes and everything in them. Katrina, Sandy, the forest fires out west. Bulldozers and soldiers - there are so many ways to destroy a history. We pretty quickly regained perspective and just plowed on, saving what we could, laughing over some of the photos and sighing at how romantic we were in the early days. Dan spent a summer in Alaska the year after we met, and there is no better way to really get to know someone than to read pages of their thoughts and their attempts to express their feelings to you.
It has felt vulnerable having these words and memories on display while they dry. I remember being that girl who loved that boy and these letters record the incredible highs and lows of a new relationship, beautiful and painful.
But mostly there was a lot of laughing and marveling over how many friends we have had the good fortune to have made in our lives, and how many versions of "us" there have been, tracking back through friendships and addresses to trace each incarnation.
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I will finish off our trip another day; we are still transitioning home (does your family have to do that? Hours and hours of audio books, or three readings straight through of 600-page volume of the old comic Little Lulu?) and our lives are a bit off-track this week as we ramp up to the annual Silver Baby Cup golf tournament!!!!! It means our friends-in-the-woods-who-live-in-Texas-right-now are here for the week and life as we know it is on hold. It also is Dan's first week of teaching in his new position! Get this - his first class Monday morning was to freshmen, which means his was their first class of their university career!! How awesome is that - Dr. Dan as your first professor. Wish we were all that lucky! He also turned forty this past week, which probably made looking through his past all the more poignant...He is a beautiful forty.