Illinois Journal–Hello, Goodbye

written on 8/26/2002

It’s been a while since last I wrote. My apologies. I have been spending extra time with Gabrielle, which has been eating into my writing time. You see, a week from now, she will be leaving.

That will be strange. In many ways, this summer has been a transitionary period. Here we are, in Peoria, and yet we had a bit of Erie with us. A bit of home. Now she will be leaving us, and when she is gone, we will truly be left alone. The transition will be complete. We will be Illinois natives.

It will also mean many adjustments, especially for Crystal. It was easy to leave the children with Gabrielle while she ran an errand, or to dash out on an impromptu date. (A drive in the country and a cup of coffee at a local coffee house. That’s romance!) Now it will be harder. Actually, it will be even harder than before we moved. At that time, we knew that we could ask our family for help with baby-sitting and finagle something. Now…. Now we’re not quite sure who to ask.

This will also mean a decision for me regarding this journal. From the very first time that I conceived this journal, I saw it as wrapping up at the end of summer. After all, if this journal was going to be about the move, then I can’t extend it too far. Eventually the move has to end. The emotions must eventually settle, and life must return to normal, even if it is a new “normal�.

Also, I find myself running out of things to say. After all, my weeks have grown calmer. Certainly I could tell you about the crazy day I had at work today, but somehow I think that I would be boring most of you. I probably wouldn’t want to read it myself. Besides, we all have crazy days at work, don’t we? Another sign of normality settling in.

Not that this is bad. I have existed in a state of abnormality for many months now. The uncertainty about the new job. The emotional time before the move. The turbulent move itself. Trying to find our way in a new place. But now the uncertainty has ebbed, the emotions have settled. I can find almost all my stuff, and we rarely get lost anymore. I feel at peace. I feel at home.

And maybe that’s where I’m going with all of this. On one level, this entire journal is about a journey, a search for home on the plains of Illinois. But now, I think that I have found it. The journey is nearly at its end.

But not quite.

I am reminded of The Lord of the Rings. (Lots of things remind me of Lord of the Rings.) At the very end, Frodo must leave Middle-earth so that he can go to a place where he will be at peace. While it is certainly better for him, this also means that he must leave loyal Sam behind. Each of them returns to home, but their homes are now separate, and even in the homecoming there is sorrow.

Part of me doesn’t want Gabrielle to go. I’m used to having her here. I’m used to being able to talk to her and see her and spend time with her. She’s almost a part of the household, not just a visitor, and when she leaves next Monday, a part of our household goes with her.

We are at home. She will be at home. And yet it will be bittersweet, because we cannot be together.

Part of me wonders if it will open the wounds of homesickness. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out.

But, right now, she is still here. So, in a few minutes, we’re going to watch a movie together on our new DVD player. Just because we still can.

Seven days and counting.

Hello, goodbye.

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