Sunday, August 7, 2022

Summer '22

Now that I work in a school system, I have a deep appreciation for summer breaks like I never had before.  This was the shortest summer ever since our last day of school was mid-June, but no one asked my opinion when putting together the 2022-23 school calendar so here I am, mere hours before I have to go back to work, trying my darnedest not to take a nap and remind myself that I lived my break with the motto "no ragrets!"  

"No ragrets" for any nap taken, glass of wine drank, workout skipped, snack eaten, or trip we took over these last few weeks!  "NO RAGRETS!"  

I started my break off with a hike (the best way to start anything if you ask me)!  A group of women from the gym I workout at met up one morning to hike Sharp Top Trail - a 3.3 mile out-and-back trail on Sharp Top Mountain in Virginia.  It was a steep trail with a 1,250ft gain in elevation and I had a hard time because of it.  This was my first hike since 2020 and I needed a lot of breaks.  But the women I went with were loving and encouraging and never once judged my struggling, and because of them, I made it!

Kissing my husband is my most favorite, but kissing the sky is a thrilling second!

I tried to fit in as many mundane appointments as I could this summer so that I wouldn't have to be bothered with them during the school year.  I can't tell you how satisfying it is to be done with an eye exam and then receive a year's worth of contacts in the mail knowing that I don't have to think about my eyeballs for a whole entire year.  Otherwise, I mostly concentrated on watching every single documentary that I could find available on our streaming services while simultaneously calling my daughter to tell her about them.  And any little thing beyond the things I just mentioned, I spent zero seconds of my energy thinking about.

A week after kissing the sky, Eric and I took a road trip up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where I discovered a little slice of Heaven.... that doesn't exist to us yet, but I know it's there. 

I would like to think that me, Eric, and Isabelle have traveled quite a bit.  I'd like to think we've seen a lot of what the world has to offer, not all of it, but a lot.  There are always more places to see, more things to experience, more people to meet, but so far, I feel like we've given this world a fair shake.  So when I say this next part, know that I'm saying it with confidence: I fell in LOVE with south central Pennsylvania.  

My love for it goes beyond explanation, I don't care what anyone says or thinks, I felt something for this part of the world.  

I like and appreciate history, and I'm married to a Solider, so touring battlefields is a part of my life.  Sometimes I'd rather be on a beach or somewhere exotic, but I can get excited about the historical importance of a battlefield as much as the next guy.  I just had no idea that a quick weekend getaway to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania would have me obsessing over Zillow for possible future forever homes for months and months, and I'm certain I won't stop obsessing until I find the most perfect spot because I KNOW it's there it's just that someone else is living in it right now.  

My husband swears that the place I'm thinking of is in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but Eric and I promised each other way back when that we'd never have mad faces at each other at the same time, so I have a feeling we'll be juggling that argument conversation for as long as it takes to find our true slice of Heaven. Pennsylvania. ;)

Not just this summer, but ever since Eric and I became empty nesters, we have taken every opportunity to date each other again.  For our anniversary last year I bought us a '100 Dates Idea' scratch off poster and we've had so much fun interpreting each date in our own way after almost 13 years of marriage (and 16 total years together).  I think all of the dates and our interpretation of them might make for a fun blog post, but we aren't even half way through our poster yet so it's probably a ways away before I'll get around to that one.  

These opportunities have really given us the chance to explore Richmond, especially this summer when I forgot that Eric doesn't have a summer break the same way that I do and I just had us doing all kinds of things all throughout the city regardless of his schedule.

And y'all, Richmond has become one of my most favorite cities ever!  

I have three younger sisters, our parents cut and copied four times to create four girls who look alike and text almost constantly, but have very different lives.  Two of us live close to home and our parents, two of us moved as far away as possible (do not confuse that with how close we are to each other and our families).  
In my little life, home is wherever the Army sends us.  We never really know where in the world we will end up in or for how long, so a lot of my connection to my sisters and our parents is through text messages, phone calls, and the wine night FaceTime calls.  Right now, I am only 12 hours away from one of my sisters which is the shortest distance we've lived from each other in our entire adult lives!  And, we just so happened to marry two non-related fellas who were both born on the same day!  My sister, Angie, and I were texting one day and she casually mentioned meeting somewhere on the coast so that we could see each other.  Literally within five minutes of that conversation I had an Airbnb booked and we were set to celebrate our husbands birthdays in Beaufort, South Carolina!  

Whether the birthday boys were fully aware of all of the details of our trip or not I can't be sure.  It all happened so fast.  I think I mentioned it to Eric... I think... but whatever, we got them to South Carolina and got them to wear birthday hats so I feel like that's as good an indicator as any that we married good dudes who let us sisters do what we needed to be able to see each other again.

Fun fact:  Beaufort, South Carolina is where a lot of major movies were filmed!  Forest Gump, The Big Chill, Forces of Nature, and The Prince of Tides just to name a few!

But our summer didn't end there!

Visiting home is a complex thing for me.  
I love home.  But I don't feel like I need to go there.

I left home when I was young.  I came back with a baby girl a few years later having left a very bad situation, stayed long enough to graduate college, and by The Divine's ultimate design, our life's journey linked with Eric's and life took us in all kinds of directions from there.
The young girl who grew up in Vermillion, South Dakota is not the same one writing this blog post right now, and I don't know how to reconcile that, so mostly I'd rather just stay as far away as possible.

Hashtag: unresolved trauma.

But going home is not the same for the man that I love.  He doesn't have the same traumatic experiences that I did, so for him, home is familiar and comforting.

Obviously this is very conflicting since I LOVE our families and miss them very very much.  It's just that if I'm being honest. going home is hard for me and the anxiety I felt leading up to our two week trip to South Dakota and Nebraska was overwhelming.

My Dad rented a cabin in the Black Hills for his side of our four-way-fractured family and we really wanted to go.  He has done this in years past but we could never make it work because of everything we had going on these last few years.  Unresolved traumas aside, I was really hoping to make it work this year.  Eric really hoped we could make it work.

Both mine and Eric's parents are divorced so it makes everything a little bit more complicated, but we sat down and went over the logistics of going home.  We had to get three bodies, who now live on opposite sides of the country, to South Dakota and back again by specific dates for three very busy lives to resume on track.  We worked around Isabelle's work and school schedule, the Army's schedule, my school schedule, figured out flying versus driving, bought two one-way plane tickets for Isabelle since that was cheaper than a round trip ticket, painstakingly planned out a route for us to drive, booked hotels for the nights we would be on the road, divided our time as best we could to make sure we had quality time with the people we love most, and then... we went HOME! 

Overwhelming anxiety, 13 days, 4,000 miles driven through 8 different States, 4 families visited, a bajillion squishes given to every single niece and nephew (plus one great-nephew), too many tipsy sister conversations to count, not a single second spent apart from our girl from the second she stepped off the airplane, and zero seizures made for one unforgettable trip home!  

Believe it or not, Eric and I didn't do as much as I thought we would these last few months, but lately we've really prioritized whatever feels easy and relaxing for us in the moment, and a lot of times that's meant staying at home in our RV.  But we recently had a conversation about how much time we have left on the East Coast and it's put things into perspective (i.e lit a fire under our asses).  So hopefully y'all will get more than two blogs per year.  For now though, NO RAGRETS!

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