Detente

We have one week to go. Next Monday we fly to LA to pick up our visas and then we’re on a plane to Spain. It’s down to the wire. And while I’ve been handling most of the list over the last 6 months, the last few things are going to be a group effort and requires negotiations.

Jeff is a person who likes to cross the finish line in more of a ‘Just in Time’ fashion. In direct opposition to my ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm’ philosophy. Today is a holiday in the US, so he’s home and we’re mopping up. He’s packing up his computers, VR stuff and other things, I have no idea what they are. He has purchased special water proof bins for these things. They will be zip tied and wrapped in plastic.

I’m not allowed to go in the room where he’s packing these things. He wants to focus and encounter no interruptions. I”m sure he’s doing what he needs to do with the piles that he’s created around the house. Some how he’ll figure out how to get it all into boxes or the garbage bin.

Music is important to this task. Usually, we listen to our own music via headphones. But today, it’s on full speaker and apparently we don’t have to same taste in music. It’s a realization that seems to have escaped me for the last 18 years.

Jeff was a DJ at a roller skating rink when he was in high school. He’s a connoisseur of 80’s music, all the way through to last week, and he has a vast collection of it. My musical tastes are more eclectic. I had older brothers and sisters so I have things on iTunes from the 70’s and even as far back as the 1930’s.

Jeff got to hear these songs –  many that he’s never heard before.

‘How can you not know who Andre Botcelli is?’ I ask him.

‘Sorry, but I’ve avoided opera so far.’

‘Well, you know that Paolo Conte’s Via Con Mi  is my go to on any airplane take off. It’s cheerful and optimistic.’ I’m not a good take-off-er.

Heavy sigh – ‘Yes, I know. But your playlists are curious.’

‘How so?’ I asked, ready for battle. Anyone who doesn’t like Edith Piaf and ‘Schmeilson in the Night’ is suspect, as far as I’m concerned.

‘Well, usually you build it so that it starts out with some slow stuff and builds up to something head banging, with a heavy base. Then you take the listener down and drop them off gently at the end. This assault is more scattered and random.’

I close my eyes and breathe.

‘Have you never heard of ‘Shuffle’? It means that tracks are played randomly. I don’t choose it.’

‘Yeah – well, whatever algorithm is ‘choosing’ it, is just sad.’

‘Well it might make you sad, but I’ll always be ready for Jennifer Hudson’s ‘I Am Changing‘. Dream Girls is a timeless anthem to women overcoming and rising up.’

‘Maybe, but it’s startling. It’s like your songs stab the listener when they play, before you figure out what you’re listening to.’

I thought he should be careful bringing up stabbing, but the knives are gone. We’re going to be spending ALOT more time together when we get to Spain. I think I can turn him on to Edith, Andre, Yo-Yo, The Spin Dotors and Depeche Mode. And perhaps, just perhaps, I can reorder my music so it’s less of an assault on the senses. And I’m sure I’ll come to appreciate Cake and Jane’s Addiction, eventually.

 

Stress Eating for One

I’m usually incredibly disciplined. I only eat protein in the morning. I do my yoga after lunch a high protein lunch, and I walk at least 6 miles every night – if not more, and other work outs. But these last few days here, I’ve thrown my entire routine out the window.

I’ve peaked too soon. There isn’t enough to do while waiting for our international shippers to pick up our stuff. I don’t have a car, so I’m house bound with all the bad influences – daytime TV.

My favorite gluten-free short bread cookies (I can’t get them in Spain) have been nearly my constant companion. They literally melt when they come in contact with your tongue. I’m drinking more wine, because, well I need to get rid of it – wink wink. And since there is no real food in our house, except microwave popcorn and jello? They’ve become part of the 3 food groups I’m sticking to. Carbs, Carbs, Carbs.

What is wrong with me? I’m never like this. But I can’t seems to stay away from this stuff. I did try to ‘work out’ by wrapping all our boxes in Saran wrap. Who knows if they’ll get wet on a boat. The chances of that seem higher than in our living room.

It’s Saturday and Jeff’s home today. Sadly, he’s seen my pitiful new routine and suggested we might walk to the store and purchase something that didn’t start it’s life as sugar cane or on a corn stalk. He actually walked me through the store by the elbow, suggesting healthy food!

‘Hey – that’s my job.’ I said with a frown and dragging my feet like a toddler.

He just shook his head and put my ‘usual’ sustenance in the the basket. Walking back, he teased out some of what’s been bothering me.

‘I’ve moved on from the worries about getting the visa. Now I’m worried we won’t be able to access our banking from there and then what will happen?’

‘So you’re substituting your fears for the overarching fear of the unknown.’ he said calmly.

I stopped in the desert on the way home and stared at him.

‘Who are you? Dr. Phil?’

‘No. But I’ve known you a long time. You’re good at worrying about things you can control. The other stuff, you sort of push off until they come around into your orbit again. That’s how going to Spain is for you. You have no idea what to be worried about so you’re choosing something tangible.’

My mouth hung open. ‘Am I that transparent?’

He smiled and hesitated. ‘Uh. Yes.’

Damn it! I hate it when he does that.

‘OK smart guy. Why am I eating only popcorn, cookies, jello and wine?’

He laughed. ‘The wine I don’t get, cause I’m not a big wine drinker. But who doesn’t like jello, cookies and popcorn?’

He’s right, of course. I am stressing over things I’ve checked and rechecked. Things I’ve created back doors for and contingency plans. It’s going to be OK, but because I’ve peaked too soon and I’m home bound, I only obsess about stuff all day.

Jeff had a remedy and today I rented a car for all next week until we leave. I’ll have wheels again. I can go out into the world and avoid looking the four walls that have been closing in on me. As of today, the stress eating is officially over. Yoga classes and the gym are back in my schedule until we leave. 8 days until we fly out and I’ll avoid gaining 5lbs. before that.

The Grief of Goodbye

There are points in life – graduations, kids going off to college – where we both celebrate and we mourn. We buy cards and gifts and we cheer. And then we cry tears of joy and loss as we see the back side of our children or grandchildren, as they go off to new horizons, without us. Blessedly Capable.

Today is a day of grief for me. It’s not really anything I can put my finger on. It’s just been here with me all day. I’ve been calling airlines and purchasing more baggage allowances. But I have found out that I have too many and I need to cut out a bag.

So I opened up the offending bag and I can cut it out. It’s not the stuff. Its the idea. We are already down to nothing. And now, we’re down to less than nothing. Sigh. I take a deep breath, and realize I’ll have to donate some more stuff. But it’s not even that. What is it? I don’t even know.

I sat here on the couch and cried. Not about anything specifically, but the tears flowed. Perhaps it’s when I booked my daughter’s ticket to Barcelona in May. We won’t see her until then. Maybe it’s because today, my son is opening his own bank account. One that I will no longer be on – he’s nearly 20, so it’s time and I won’t be banking at that bank anymore. It’s like the threads of the ties that bind are fraying all on the same day.

I wanted to tell the woman at American Airlines that I needed that suitcase. Please let me take it – it’s part of all I’ve got left. But she wouldn’t have cared. I’m not sure why I care so much. But I do.

We went to Iceland a few years ago. We visited the spot on the earth where the North American and European plates are born. Where deep in the earth, the crust is being created and pushed towards the surface. I always imagined it to be a very painful process as the rock reaches the light of day. I guess that’s how I feel now. Like we’re creating new ground – and sometimes there is pain in doing it.

Today, I’m just going to sit in it. The sadness and the grief of letting go of an old life before embracing a new one. But as the pain washes over me, the grief of goodbye has overwhelmed me – no explanations, no excuses – it just is.

Visa Approved!!

Just heard – we are good to go. Its a little surreal. If we hadn’t had to provide one more month of financial statements, it would have taken only 3 days. I love the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles. Crazy! After all that – it was quick and painless.

Crazy Ideas

It’s strange. Thinking back, when we started this whole crazy idea of doing this – we targeted February 28th as the day we would fly out to Spain. And now it’s going to happen. In the end, I fooled the Gods of Document Hades – I think I wore them out!

I just booked our flights. I’m not sure how it all dovetailed together, but it did and our project planning all worked out. In software parlance, we finished UAT in plenty of time.

I included a photo in this post. Its a book my husband bought for me. He had no idea how may crazy ideas I could really have when he gave it to me. But he soon learned that the sky is the limit as far as my imagination is concerned. So, here we go!

If you could see me right now, you’d see a HUGE smile, that will be celebrated later tonight with the last bottle of champagne I’ve been saving for this occasion. The sound of the cork popping will be like the sounds of the fireworks of Fallas, we will get to experience in a few weeks.

Here’s to dreaming and taking roads less traveled. Here’s to all the crazy ideas and believing that anything is possible. Here’s to living the life you’ve imagined. It can be done. Ask me. I know.

Day 8 – Visa Watch

We’re just waiting now. Checking email throughout the day to see if the ‘We like you, come to Spain’ email is waiting for us. Now I’m doing the housekeeping of sweeping up all the little things. Funny, I thought the list was almost done, but the closer we get I keep adding one thing here, another there. To Do’s I didn’t think about. Turning in cable boxes and routers, mailing important documents to my parents for safe keeping. Finding stray bins full of photos that I need to figure out what to do with them.

Today, I’m putting our entire movie collection on an external hard drive so we can avoid taking the dvd’s with us. It’s tedious but we’ll have entertainment when we decide we can’t get through the day without watching Harry Potter or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Music CD’s will come after that.

Yesterday, I made the inventory of all our boxes and wrapped them in plastic wrap and labeled them for the shippers when they come next week. And speaking of international shippers. Are they all flakes? I signed the contract with ours and their dispatch still can’t tell me what day next week when they will come and pick up our stuff. And when Jeff dropped off his motorcycle with a different shipper in LA last week, they acted like it was the first time they had ever shipped a motorcycle and were making it up as they go along. A process ripe for disruption, if I was looking for a business opportunity or a Start-up to start up.

Only one more document and our accountant will have all the documents he needs to do our taxes. Every day, I do small things now. But most of them have to done on a specific day, so it’s slowed me down. I can’t batch it all up and just muscle through, so it’s good I have this movie converting to do.

Jeff is still working an hour away and he has the truck so I’m home bound, for the most part. It’s goes against my nature. Before my son, Nick was born I was put on bed rest for 6 weeks for high blood pressure. It drove me crazy, even though everyone said I should appreciate the rest before sleepless nights became my reality. But I didn’t. I hated the inaction.

So, I’m determined to appreciate this time. Our last 14 days in the US. I’ll watch some of my favorite shows. Enjoy some foods I can only get here. Call friends and family. Take more walks in the neighborhood. But that doesn’t mean I’m not hitting refresh on my email – hoping against hope that we’ll be the exception and get our visas in record time. The biggest lose end tied up, at last.