We’ve been here three months now, my family and I, having moved from northern Virginia. During that time, we have settled in some. We do love it here, and it already feels like home. Virginia life seems like years ago. It feels as though we’re still in moving limbo, though, having arrived, but not being able to unleash ourselves from our residence due to the pandemic.
In all honesty, our explorations have been limited. Our bank statement consists mostly of Bullocks & online shop transactions. We’re home a lot, as is the rest of the world. The home and garden projects are piling up. For every one we check off, it seems five more go on, but there is space in knowing they do not hold any daunting deadlines.
Things move slower here, which allows me time for deep breaths. Without prioritizing tasks, the days slip happily through my fingers. What day is it today? Does it matter? Remember what does matter: spending time with loved ones, doing something for yourself, and continuing to hustle that money . . . you know, so we can eat.
Nick has found a job. It’s work, and it allows us to feel more financially secure, but ultimately is not his (or likely anyone’s) dream job. He seems happy in it, but he is a hopeless optimist and can make the best of any situation.
I’ve always sensed the pressure on men/husbands to work, to “bring home the bacon,” but the demands of society were brought to my attention the most when Nick was “out of work” in our first weeks here. It felt as though friends and family did not respect my work or give me credit for the contributions to our household. We were okay and, of course, strived for more than surviving, but there was a lot of unnecessary patriarchal reinforcement surrounding his conscious decision to take time to be home with and love his family full time. The comment that Nick must be “ready” to get back to work and out of the house was a reoccurring one. The idea that I might be ready to get out of the house didn’t cross anyone’s mind.
My fine and graphic art practice remains online. My new studio has its fair share of half-finished projects, and calls to me daily. Painting both the interior and exterior is only partially completed, the flooring situation is a hot mess (I painted it with water-based paint over what was apparently an oil-based finish), the windows still need to be put in, and I’ve been putting off putting electrical in until more funds come in. Meanwhile, an extension cord for my desk lamp will do. Ideally, the studio would’ve been completed by now, and I’d be out there painting every day. It would be nice to have had it ready for holiday shopping, but then I remember there will many more opportunities to welcome others to see my work. Meanwhile, we’ll keep our distance, and hope this illness fades, so that we can power on in rattling the normal we used to know.
Though I do not personally celebrate Thanksgiving due to its less-than-pleasant history (read: genocide), I am thankful to be here in New Mexico with my mom and stepdad, and for the roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food in our bellies. We will not be eating turkey this year, but talking to our children about the history of the holiday (in an age-appropriate way), as well as talking about what we are thankful for. We feel thankful in knowing that we are healthy, bills are more easily paid here, that we are able to spend more time with our children, and that we are able to do things that we enjoy more often. It is sometimes hard to think about what’s good in this world with all the bad, but there is much to be grateful and hopeful for.
My goal with this writing project for the Sun was to give a bit of a review on our move, the town, the climate, the businesses and family-friendly accommodations. I am learning little bits about the town, and the crowd it tends to draw, but mostly we’re homebodies, unable to interact with the outside world much. I wish I could go on about some fun-filled children’s activity, but the pandemic has put a hold on most events. That’s fine with us. We get to do our time in nature, but I do worry about the effect this is all having on the kids. My youngest doubtfully remembers much of life pre-isolation. We parents and grandparents are their entire world. It is an honor, and a concern.
We did, however regrettably, visit the drive-through haunted house at Halloween. The “child friendly” time was anything but for our scared-out-of-his gourd four year old. It was, as it was intended to be, frightfully spooky, but maybe not as child friendly as we had hoped. We were told that if we did not want the house’s inhabitants to reach inside the car, to shut the windows. At one point one of the teenaged spooks accidentally opened our automatic sliding van door, which was a little more than we bargained for, resulting in more screams of terror inside our van than out. In an effort to bring a bit of normalcy to our lives, we may have traumatized our oldest. The teens did a good job, but I was reminded that there is not nearly as much catering to young children here since that population is significantly less than from where we came.
From what I’ve experienced, the town lacks some of my familiar creature comforts, but makes up for it by providing plenty of quality conversation with interesting people from all walks of life. There is still so much for us to explore, so many people to meet. I’ve noticed, though, that my guard is up. The streets are not as accommodating to pedestrians as we’d like. Pickup trucks rev their engines and speed through our neighborhood, likely harmless transients say weird things to my children, and there are virtually no stroller-accessible sidewalks.
My four year old recently pointed out a syringe near Rotary Park, which reminded me of the area’s/the world’s reliance on self-harm. There are many reasons why someone might turn to something as physically detrimental as harsh drugs. I’m not going to pretend to understand why someone might do that to themselves. I may be jumping to conclusions. For all I know it was an insulin needle. I threw it away. The trash can was not 20 feet away, but likely not on the mind of someone who is feeling “less than” and unloved.
The numbing of that which has hurt you, does not heal you. Please remember, you are loved.
Until next time.