Have you ever thought about how hard it is to notice something that isn’t there? Or to discern subtle changes? Or gradual alterations?
I think that for me, the last 12 months have been a year of noticing things un-noticed. Primarily in my own life. Though I think that has caused me to look outside myself more and as a result I’ve probably paid attention to different things than I might normally do.
It’s almost as if it took us four years of RV’ing to develop a context for making decisions about the rest of our retirement.
We have done that sort of thing before. At our last house we lived there with a huge square box of a house set off center on a property split in thirds where one third was asphalt parking lot. It took me three or four years to get to the point where I had internalized the idea of that property and begin fashioning some sort of attack plan for developing it. Squared off gardens wouldn’t work — the building itself was way too formal and bulky, it needed some flowing lines not more squares. And not being a public school any longer it didn’t need a 15 car parking lot, it wanted some grace, some elegance that I couldn’t see when we first bought the property. In the end we had 8000 sq ft of asphalt removed, planted a dozen trees, 20 or 30 shrubs and a circular hidden patio. It took time to let the property speak to us, and finally it did.
Now that we are settling into the house here at Los Fresnos, and the commitment to come off the road as full time RV’ers has been made we’re beginning to see how we came to this place.
I’ll be the first person in the world to admit that I have a biased way of looking at weather. Back in the 80’s when I was trucking, on a day when the real temps were down near -50º I went through a frozen fuel line situation that I was lucky to survive. But the results of that experience forever altered my feelings about cold and warmth. I am who I am in part because of that day and the rough looking angel who came along and helped me when I most needed it.
Last summer when we were camp hosting in Wisconsin we arrived on site at the beginning of May. Over 5 months we had a full range of Wisconsin Spring/Summer/Autumn weather. After all we were in northern Wisconsin. Arriving just after the last snowfall of the winter and by the time we left the trees were pretty well bare with an early leaf-fall. Because we were scheduled to be there for 5 months I finally settled back and started paying attention to some of what was around me in different ways than I had been. Weather played a bigger role in part because it was a stormy summer and a cool spring & autumn. I think I finally came to accept the solution to my struggle with hot & cold. Being in one place for a while kind of let me “feel” little differences from day to day. I also realized what the meds I’m taking now do to my perception of heat and cold.
We’ve thought a little about how living here will be different and I know that during the summer it will be quite a thing to get used to the heat here. But I know how difficult it is for me when I’m cold. I think this will be more livable for me than the alternative.
I’ve written a little about how groceries and other stores differ from place to place. Sometimes it has taken a while to realize that what is available in one locale has not been what we want. Over two visits we agree that the little shopping inconveniences that we find here are more agreeable than ones we’ve found in other places. I loved being along the Oregon Coast but along the coast it was also difficult to get the quality and variety of fresh produce that we like. Produce, specially fruit, is not a problem here in the Rio Grande Valley.
I’ll admit that doing business in Texas is an experience. This has been a case of un-noticed things. Various details about the house purchase have pointed out how hugely different states can be. Back in the 80’s when I went trucking for a few years one of the first lessons I learned — respecting trucks and trucking — was that we do not live in the United States of America. No, when a truck goes from state to state you leave the sovereign state of Illinois (for example) and enter the sovereign state of Ohio. Well, I’m finding out (as it’s been almost 40 years since living in another state) that for a lot of other purposes state laws are different enough to make you dizzy. You expect one thing and discover something quite different.
It’s all part of life; change is challenging. Gradually we become aware of what we need to do differently. What we can rely upon to be the same. We have no regrets about the decision to settle into S. Texas for a while. Or should I say, we have no more regrets about this decision than we do about any decision: no choice is perfect. There is good and bad in everything and the best we can do it maximize the benefits while minimizing the disadvantages. And to pay attention to what isn’t there.
Going on 20 years ago we had a falling away from friends and I was interested at the time to finally realize who had kept in touch and who had not. I guess since then sudden departures, or sudden absences have felt differently for me. I’ve always been a person who turns over the leaf of the last chapter in life without much looking back — so it’s always been hard for me to actually think about what’s not there anymore. That has never been particularly important to me; a new chapter is a new chapter. But sometimes as with states, or weather, the thing that changes affects you in ways you didn’t anticipate. I’m sure that’s true of people; but I guess I always figured if it was a new chapter there would be new characters too. Funny that…. why I anticipate one change but not another. Oh well.
I’m sure we’ll keep realizing that things are missing, that somehow life has changed and that we realize it only after some time of absence. I think that’s probably true of many generations. It’s not all about forgetting things as older people. It’s about a lifetime of habits that conflict with a changing world and suddenly what you relied upon in the past simply isn’t there.
I’m only human. thanks for stopping, and why not check in again tomorrow? I’ll be here.