Northern Experience

Tomorrow will complete my week without my family, another week at work for EJ, and JJ’s adventurous first week in the North. I think we are all having adventures of one sort or another and growing through them.

I have been alone for a few days before when EJ and JJ have gone on hunting trips in November. When they are away on hunting trips, I know that it’s only for a few days so it feels like a vacation to me–a few days to enjoy doing whatever I want and whenever I want. But this time, even though they are home on the weekends, I have no idea how long I will be without them so I miss them terribly.

I have trouble getting motivated in the mornings–I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not sleeping well or because I’m still struggling with this stupid illness that EJ gave me a month ago. I slept on the couch for the first couple of days this week because the cats settling around me made me feel not so alone. But they wake me with their comings and goings. Kee Kee paws me whenever he comes and then either nestles in my arms or settles on my neck. It’s sort of difficult to sleep when there’s a weight on my neck and I’m breathing in cat hair, so I shift him a bit. Luke sleeps on my stomach or legs, and Little Bear sleeps either on my body or on my head. Timmy doesn’t like to share, so he has been sleeping on the mountain of packed boxes. He sometimes joins me during the day when none of the other cats are near. All this activity wakes me through the night. Wednesday night I decided to go upstairs to sleep in my bed. The cats aren’t allowed upstairs so I would be undisturbed. A couple of hours later I woke coughing and vomiting the phlegm that closes off my throat at night so I went back downstairs to sleep propped up on the couch.

In the afternoons I have been mostly working in the yard, cleaning up not only the winter’s debris but also with the intention of making the yard appealing when we go to sell. When the weather gets warmer, if I’m still down here, I want to paint the garage and front porch. Inside the house there is a little bit of drywall to put up and quite a bit of mudding. I’m not able to put up the drywall, but I asked EJ to teach me to do the mudding so I can paint the already drywalled areas. I might as well be productive while I’m down here.

EJ spent the week learning a technique that I think he’s never done before. It’s called “bead blasting” or something like that. It’s been difficult and he leaves work exhausted. Because of that, we haven’t been able to move forward on the house we are interested in. The sellers owe almost as much on the house as they are selling it for so they can’t lower their price. We have to figure out if we can afford it. I think the monthly payment won’t be a problem as much as the money we will have to pay at closing. We have to be able to have money for inspections, surveys, and closing, as well as money for EJ and JJ’s hotel (until we move into a house), to move, to complete projects on our house down here, and stuff like that.  I think EJ and the realtor are trying to work on figuring what we can do. I’ll let you know.

JJ has had an adventurous week. If he wants to have the car, he has to get up about 5:30 a.m. to take his Dad to work. Such an early morning is tough on him because he’s always been such a night owl.

There is a lot of construction going on in the Emerald City which is really making the roads congested with traffic. JJ is not used to driving in heavy traffic in unfamiliar places so it’s been stressful. Also, he hasn’t driven much since he had cancer, so he’s out of practice. He drove around on Monday and found the awesome library. Tuesday he decided to walk instead of drive. He had planned to walk to a local market to apply for a job–there are “help wanted” signs in the window, but I guess there was a lot of construction obstacles that made the walk difficult so he gave up after a bit and turned back. His route took him past a pretty park and he stopped there for a moment. I found the following picture of the park on Google maps. It’s really such a beautiful area.

A view of the park.
A Google maps view of the park.

Wednesday JJ also didn’t drive. He was tired so he pretty much stuck around his motel. However, today he was back on the road. He got turned around for a bit and ended up at another lakeside park, but he found his bearings again and made it to the market where he courageously asked for a job application. They told him to apply on-line. I guess most businesses do that nowadays.

Sometimes JJ gets anxious about all these new experiences in a totally unfamiliar area, but he’s overcoming it and doing great. When he got back to his hotel room after his morning of adventuring, he texted me:

I think I did alright. I took a road I was scared of taking, to a place I was scared of going, and then back to the hotel, while the fear was real.

JJ left early to pick up his Dad from work today. He had quite a wait in the car so he wrote about his first days in the North. JJ is a tremendous writer and I enjoyed what he wrote so asked if I could share it on my blog. He said that while he hadn’t intended for it to be public, I had his permission to share it. Here is what he wrote:

I’m sitting in “the buggy,” an older model Nissan xterra. The rain is starting and I’ve got another hour to kill before my dad gets out of the very square, very tan building where he’s been working for the past month. It’s the tail end of his first month here, the tail end of my first week. It’s a very different experience from what my life downstate was, startlingly so. As I sit here, casually reading my book and continuing a conversation via sms with my mom, I wonder if this life is really possible to maintain. Or if it will devolve into a cruel twin of the one we left behind. Oh, I very much hope not.

I’m looking out over the airport now. Lots of small planes brave the gloomy weather to ascend from the ground to allow their pilots the freedom of the skies. As someone who’s afraid of heights, I’m personally very much okay with enjoying the freedom of the ground.

I haven’t eaten anything today yet, as my stomach growls I search for anything edible within reach. I see what might be a banana, but as I pick up the bag it resides in, the contents shift and the peel reveals itself fully as a disappointment.

A flag of packaging catches my eye from the back seat, jackpot. I had forgotten that there might be something in the back from our drive up. I turn the bag around, and my luck fails. Buffalo wing kettle chips. While kettle chips are normally delicious, these are not. As evidenced by the mostly full bag that’s been sitting in the car for the entire week. Stale chips, still better than nothing. Chomp.

The first bite reveals that I was wrong, woefully wrong and that nothing is indeed, MUCH better than these disgusting potato oblongs that have been adulterated by buffalo powder. (Made from the tears of actual buffalo don’tcha know.)

As I’m still making a face from the terrible taste of the chips, a coast guard seahawk (or something similar) makes an approach, its orange and white paint a startling contrast to the gray of rain bearing clouds. It lands about two hundred feet away, creating the illusion of weightlessness as its wheels touch down. The ground crew scramble as it’s rotors slowly spool down, each revolution taking slightly longer then the last until it finally grinds to a halt. Neat.

My stomach growling snaps me out of my rapt attention for the aircraft. I could really go for something other than these chips. Maybe we can stop somewhere for food once my dad is out of work. Somewhere with a milkshake my stomach insists. Dons, a diner/drive-in close by, comes quickly to mind with its cherry milkshakes. Those were wonderful.

I’ve made my decision, I feel freed, much more able to pursue what I want. I feel kind of like a freed prisoner though, not quite sure what to do with the freedom, not quite wanting to test the boundaries for fear of reprisals.

This land of black squirrels, rats with wings overhead, (normal people call them “gulls” which I find a boring descriptor.) And murderous traffic, (I’ve found myself wanting to attach spikes to my wheels or some other implement designed to defend myself from stupid) is, for some reason, both sides of two extremes for me.

On the one hand, it’s a source of freedom, a breath of fresh air, a land of opportunity. On the other hand, it’s a place of new, terrifying things. Of dense, rush hour traffic, uncertainties, and unfamiliarity. The first half of that outweighs it all though. I look forward to my time here, even if I am utterly terrified of it at times.

When EJ’s shift ended and he joined JJ in the Buggy, they went out to eat and then drove around together. JJ texted me that he saw buffalo.

The North is so good for EJ and JJ. I’m so glad we are doing this! Now I just need to get up there with Danny and the cats…

8 Comments on “Northern Experience

  1. I purchased a magnet last weekend with the saying, “Let your faith be bigger than your fear”. Sounds like JJ did a great job of that today!

    When you mentioned the airport, it reminded me of where we lived after we were first married. If it is the same place, then it is such a beautiful area! You will certainly love it there! 🙂 I’ll pm you with our favorite place to eat there just in case it is.


  2. We all should pat our backs when we accomplish something new and scary and say “I think I did alright!”


  3. I know the fear all to well and know that sometimes I overcome it and the other time I don’t. So JJ is doing a great job as I can see it. And I do hope you all be together soon. ❤


  4. All barriers are made small when we go at them a little each time, proud of you all, it is not easy but all will be overcome in time. Hope you get feeling better TJ and enjoy the men this weekend.


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