Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer, nostalgia and such.

Summer. 6 weeks of often rain with a little sunshine if we were lucky. How we used to live for those few weeks! I remember the last week of school before summer holidays being so exciting. We'd run out of school work and so the teacher would have us clean out our trays, take our projects and pictures off the walls, run little errands around school. We'd have longer breaks because there was less to do.

The last day of school would come. A half day. The whole morning was like one long sigh; no more homework! No more stress! No more teachers! Then we'd go home and would have nothing to do...

BUT, those bored-days aren't what I remember thinking back about summer. The first few weeks of summer for a good handful of years were spent picking strawberries in the field near my home. We'd go as a family and work from early in the morning to late afternoon to save up for our summer holiday. It was hard work. Hard, horrible work. I actually hated it more than pretty much anything. Kneeling all day in soggy, dirty driels (the rows strawberries are planted in), leaning over dusty strawberry plants and judging the fruit before sorting them into their classes. Thinking back I remember not working very hard but just hating it. My mum and dad would work all day long without any complaining. That's what parents do. Then we'd walk home and my mum would make dinner for us. The skin on her hands cracked and stained and there she'd be making us dinner... It's only when you look back that you recognise these things.

One summer I remember coming home from school knowing we wouldn't be going anywhere that year due to finances less existent than usual but my mum and dad had managed to buy us a few summer games to keep us entertained. Croquet and tether ball are the two I remember specifically. That was also the year my dad made us a pool by tying a huge blue tarp to the corners of the fence...

In recent summers with Stuart we've roadtripped to new places and made a point of getting out to see things instead of spending too much money on parks or amusements. We're probably in a very similar financial situation that my parents were in those strawberry picking years. Capitola, The Redwoods, Seattle, Salt Lake - so much to see and we're so easily entertained!

I love imagining what memories we'll make with Autumn. What will she remember most?

I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Infertility: Part 1

It's no secret that we waited a long time to have Autumn, or to be given Autumn. After 6 1/2 years of being married I'd given up hope of having a baby and had come to terms with the idea of Stuart and I being together forever, just the two of us. I stopped focusing on "replenishing the earth" and got on with my life - weight loss and education took the front seat whilst I adjusted to shrugging off my monthly disappointment. It was easier to carry on without the pangs of hopelessness than I expected. I wondered why I didn't do it sooner and I was surprised how I didn't feel guilty getting on with my life and not hoping for the gift I thought womanhood owed me.

Womanhood. In my darkest hours I wondered what the point was. Why was I a woman when my body wouldn't function womanly. Why was I cursed with a monthly reminder that I was broken? Would I always have to suffer physically and mentally for nothing? What was the point? Mother Nature was a jerk.

There was no earthly reason why we were still childless 7 years later. We did what we were meant to do when we were supposed to, and when we wanted to. I could only imagine what a positive pregnancy test looked like. Watching friends have their first, second, third, fourth, and a couple of fifth kids became unbearable pretty early on. Heart breaking. My mum always said that I would have babies which broke my heart even more. Not only was I waiting but other people were too.

We were done. Fine, whatever, Heavenly Father. Our 7 year anniversary came and our hearts started to heal. It was a fresh start. Plans of projects, traveling places; a future just the two of us. Then 3 months later I was sick. Sick, exhausted, emotional. Pregnancy never crossed my mind. I'd stopped making an effort in that department months ago. The stress of school had filled the space left by the stress of not getting what I wanted. I couldn't remember being so stressed before. I started sleeping all day. I only ate shredded wheat, I had no taste for anything anymore. I'd cry when Stuart left for school so sad to be alone and cry when he got back because I was so happy. All of this seemed normal behaviour for a stressed-beyond-belief person.

Stuart suggested I take a pregnancy test. I said I could wait a month to let Mother Nature do her own. Stuart reminded me Mother Nature hadn't showed up for a while.

I took a test.

Mother Nature was a jerk, I didn't change my mind about that but she was also a control freak.

She let me be pregnant on her terms.

Photo by Blue Lily


I felt a little pathetic as I explained to Stuart why I stopped reading some of my once favourite blogs. I kept up on these lives religiously, dedicating time every morning to catch up with my "friends". It took a while before I noticed I'd be uncharacteristically gloomy after reading some of these colourful and splendid journals filled with clean hardwood floors, frame and plate adorned walls, weekend trips to sunny places. Slender bodies clad in expensive, "modest" swim suits. Handsome husband's in bowties and glasses, hats. Babies and puppies adoring red lipped mothers, always smiling. Blessed lives. Why wouldn't they always be smiling? Traveling, eating out, accessorising, taking pictures with cameras that use instant film, cupcakes, vintage furniture, bands I never heard of. Props, bi-annual family portraits, heirloom engagement rings.

There I sat in a house far away from my family, overweight, uneducated and alone all day. Struggling to make ends meet, stranded, childless. Helpless and sitting on an uncomfy couch, dealing with chronic back pain and the inability to sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a time. I had a husband going to a school he hated, memorising things he disagreed with in order to pass exams that drained our bank account, dreading graduating and having to live being in a profession he felt would prevent him progressing in life, and worst of all being associated with radicals. The other side of the coin was to drop out and disappoint family and be left with an incredible amount of debt with nothing to show for it. Sleepless nights, anxiety, fear, depression.

I had to stop. Deep fascination with these lives was not enough for me to be able to relate to these people. It was easy to think of them as my friends when they really weren't. At the end of reading and witnessing these dream lives I was left empty and slightly sick. I'd question why I wasn't living these lives. Why was life not working out for us when we were working so hard and struggling so incredibly?

Comparison IS the thief of joy.

It doesn't even matter! Those lives are not mine. We all have different experiences, the potential to do different wonderful things, the ability to touch lives in different ways. Here's to facing forward and making the most of what we have, whether we have a lot of things or not.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


One of the main things I have in common with my dad is the fascination for new places. New places and seeing in general. I grew up with my head stuck in atlases and an old copy of The Automobile Association book of British Towns; a thick dictionary type book that was kept under the stairs in the white bookcase by the church library, it is filled with information and photos of every town on the British Isles. I could sit for hours flipping through my reference books, skimming the glossary, studying the old photographs. Memorising place names, page numbers, the contents of each square on the map. Lists and lists of places, routes, points of interest tucked between the pages. History. Stories. People. Complete, uncontrollable consumption of my being. 

I'm always consumed with Wanderlust. I have lists of places and things I want to see filed in my mind like a catalogue of postcards I'm yet to buy. I lie in bed and prompt pleasant dreams by imagining these places only to find myself overwhelmed and basically itching to get out and go, and see. Who needs sleep?! Wanderlust turns into some kind of wicked Wanderenvy. Friends post pictures of where they are and I NEED to be there. I need to see that. I need that blue sky, white sand, green grass, snowy mountain, fluffy clouds, cold wind, fresh air. I need to see and feel all that for myself.

My absolute best memories involve some kind of wandering. The summer we went to Bath, England. The summer Stuart and I decided to go on a spontaneous trip down the Oregon coast with his sister Megan. The time Stuart took me to see Paul Bunyan and I screamed I was so excited. The day we went on a tour of as many temples in Utah that we could before getting tired. Trips to zoos, beaches, bridges, piers, parks, ghost towns, vista points, monuments, farmers markets, museums, cemeteries. Every single place is plotted on a map in my mind. They become a part of my spirit, fueling my need to wander. Unquenchable.

It's exciting for me to think about where we're going to end up. Exciting because hopefully it means we find a place we love more than the rest and we're willing and ready to put down roots. It seems unlikely to happen any time soon. Until then we'll continue wandering.

And dreaming.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The little blog that would.

Life has changed so much over the last 3 years alone that looking back on my blog posts I can hardly recognise who wrote them. That is why they're gone and everything looks different. I feel different - I've grown, look different - I've shrunk, I am different. It seems appropriate to strip the walls and put up a fresh coat of paint, rearrange the furniture a bit.

It was either that or abandon ship for good.