And then they lived happily ever after. The end.

I was the Quebec Okie. I was Saguenay Meg. I never loved her all the way. I admire some of what she did, and I cringe remembering other things.

But in the wise words of Rafiki, “It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.”

Oh, it matters. But it is in the past. It’s over now. It’s finally over. Forever. I worried that I placed too much blame on the Saguenay. I worried that it wasn’t just the place that was wrong, that *I* was wrong. I worried that I put too much hope into a change of scenery, a new chapter. I worried that there was too much truth in the saying, “Wherever you go, THERE you are,” that the shortcomings and dissatisfaction that characterized too much of my four years in Quebec would follow me to the next place.

Those worries were without merit.

Cornwall Meg is here. And SHE. IS. AMAZING. I’m loving our new life here so hard that it literally makes me cry tears of joy from time to time. I am making new friends, just accepted an exciting new job, and am practically bursting at the seams with energy and happiness. I am shoving awesomeness out into the universe, and it’s coming back at me tenfold.

The time for this blog has passed. I’m glad I chronicled my struggles, my failures, my tiny successes. I’m glad I have a record of what was, for me, a very dark chapter in my personal story. I will never forget Saguenay Meg. I will, however, forgive her for her shortcomings. I will be forever grateful to her that she held on the the dearest thing in my life, to the love that made it all worth living through. And I will happily bid her farewell.

Thank you, Saguenay Meg. Your sacrifices were not in vain. And goodbye, Saguenay Meg. Goodbye forever.

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Four Little Letters

Home. Four little letters, but the concept is intimidating, perhaps beyond my power to wrap in words.

I find the white space into which I’m typing quite daunting as I try to find the words to express where I am right now. I can’t adequately articulate my emotions, as my relief is so heavily anchored by anxiety and my fear is so coloured by excitement and anticipation. A strange calm so neatly overlays something jagged and tumultuous just below. Or is it that something barbed and restless is scratchily laid just over the calmness? I can’t untangle all of those things and name them correctly.

So I try to think about the concept of home, which is a thread that runs through the entirety of my inner emotional storm. I’ve called certain buildings home, and we don’t currently have one of those. I’ve called whatever space I share with my husband our home, and we’re not together for the moment. I suppose that, for the time being, “home” will simply refer to wherever I’m sleeping.

The last home I knew was a place where, despite some good memories and some valuable experiences, I failed to thrive. We had a lovely house that we called our home. But when it came to the grander sense of home, the space into which our lives fit, where we should have had a sense of belonging, it left us wanting. We would often return to that home with a sort of soft sadness, happy to be together, but knowing it was not what we wanted it to be.

We find ourselves in limbo once again, not yet able to move forward, but now uprooted and mostly disconnected from the past. At least this time, we have a destination in sight, a line in the sand that signals change. We are moving forward, one slow second at a time, but the days are at least finite. We’re moving toward something new. Something we hope will give us the tools to let us carve out a life that fits us better.

We’ve found the building that we will soon call our home in the new area where we’ll be living. I hope with all of my being that we will find ways to fill it with laughter and merriment and make the memories that will truly transform it into a home, a place of belonging, rightness, and contentment. I plan to make every effort to live the sort of life there that awakens a quiet, soft happiness in my heart when I turn once again to return to that space. To our new home.

Multitude

A friend posted a poem.

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Solitude- by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

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I am lucky. I have those special few people in my life who sip with me from the glass of life’s gall. The aisles of pain are narrow indeed, but I have a few who take a deep breath and squeeze in beside me for the march.

I found this poem very timely. Is it strange that I find “Solitude” to be a hopeful and uplifting piece? Because I do. Today, for me, it’s not a rueful examination of how pain must be borne alone. Instead it’s a celebration of how mirth calls to mirth, joy to joy, pulsing life to life. It’s a reminder that, despite the sighs I’ve lost on the air, all I have to do is throw back my head and laugh. Laughing, I call laughter to me, and my world grows larger, louder, more boisterous and satisfying.

I worried for a time that I lost myself, that the love I had for myself and my life were gone, never to be found again. I worried that I’d become unlovable. The days slip by now, growing gradually warmer, slowly forcing spring’s living breath into the dead stillness of the long winter. On soft kitten’s feet, hope and love come stealing back.

I am happy. I am not where I want to be, but I am finally moving toward that place again. I can feel it anew, love throbbing in the air around me. Some of it is mine, and much of it is the love that’s out there for me in the universe. I am only as alone as I choose to be, and now I choose the multitude over solitude. I choose to open my heart again, to hold my head high, and to feel all of the hearts out there beating, hearts that share the rhythm of my own.

The Break of Day

There have been so many changes to the narrative, so much uncertainty, so many days and nights spent in the darkness of limbo, waiting and wondering, not quite daring to hope for fear that hope would be dashed. But even the longest, darkest night can’t last forever. It has finally happened. The soft, warm light of knowledge has finally come pouring over the horizon. It’s the dawn of our new day.

Husband has his posting message. It’s official; this summer we’re leaving the Saguenay for southeastern Ontario. We finally get to close this challenging and too often unsatisfying chapter of life and begin to write something new for ourselves. After the nearly four years we’ve spent trying and failing to get life to fit well here, the relief and joy we feel is hard to express, even for this lover of words.

I close my eyes and open my mind’s eye, and I can feel myself tilting my face up, letting the light fall warmly and silkily across my skin. I feel like anything and everything is possible. I feel whole and content.

I’m ready. I’m so very ready.

 

Take a picture, Mimi

Seriously, Mimi, you should take a picture.

No, Ma, that video was pretty great. Better than a picture. You were on that merry-go-round with him, weren’t you? In the center as Sister spun you. I didn’t realize that until the second time I watched it. I remember pushing him there. It would have been May? My first visit last year, when it rained so much that the roads flooded? We went to the Purcell track a few times, and you guys took me to the gym a lot. I ran my first 5K in so long, there along the Oklahoma River. And you took a picture. I looked much faster than I am.

megruncrop

Sister sent me a picture. Of the run results. Damn, old lady, I’d better get moving! I’m in the high 31’s when I’m working at it. You’re going to catch up with me. I really thought I saw the last 5K you’d ever attempt in life, that thrice-damned Midnight Streak, I think it was 2010. I’m so glad I was wrong. I’m so proud of you.

Take a picture, Mimi. And send it. Sister jumping. Her silly little bay mare, who didn’t like riding until she started jumping, who only I can make goofy (WHEN will I ride a horse who can just work a damned gate without losing its mind?!?). And I love the photos of you. Riding English in 2016, who’d have thunk it?!?

Thanks for the pictures, Mimi. You can never take enough. Or send enough. I enjoy each one, whether or not I express it. Take a picture, Mimi.

We’ll take some more soon, Ma. Less than two months.

Shifting sands

So maybe I lied. Or maybe I didn’t. Oh, the joys of never knowing until you know. (And never knowing WHEN you’ll know until you know that you know.)

We know that we’re leaving the Saguenay this year. We don’t know when, exactly. We have absolutely no idea where we’ll head from here. We thought we knew, at least, that the leaving would have to be done without the military’s help. We don’t even know that anymore. What we think we know changes every day. Literally. Every. Single. Day.

It’s frustrating and a bit overwhelming. It’s as if we’re juggling four balls, and as they go up, none come back down. And we’re standing here, waiting, wondering when or if they’ll start to rain back upon us, and whether or not they’ll have changed when/if they do fall back to earth.

But I tell myself, I have an amazing life partner, a best friend who’s great in the good times, and incomparably wonderful in times of stress and uncertainty. I have amazing family and friends around the world, including some here locally. I have enough to keep me busy here for the moment. And we have a ticking clock that moves us, one second at a time, toward some sort of change.

Change. Our only certainty for the moment.

We’re still in that darkest hour before dawn, but time is marching us toward answers, toward something new. As I told the husband just today, if we just continue to not die, we’ll get to the other side of this paralytic void of not-knowing and start making a life on the other side.

That’s enough. It has to be enough, so it is.

Just before dawn

So it’s here. The Change.

Well, it’s not here. It’s lurking just beyond our line of sight, without a hint of murky light yet peeking over the horizon. It is said that the darkest hour is just before dawn. That’s where we find ourselves. Our personal landscape is still obscured by the darkness. We don’t know what will be, but we finally know what won’t be. The clock has started ticking again, signaling an end to our limbo, and we strain to detect the first sign of dawn.

I married a military man. It was all he’d ever known, and it was like nothing I’d ever known. Though my husband has been a part of the military life since he was born, I still don’t understand this weird, all-encompassing, often invasive world. Despite my lack of understanding, I’ve lived intimately with it for over five years. I’ve been defined and confined by it. I’ve been changed by it. It has brought me experiences I’d never imagined having, and it has challenged me in ways I never could have foreseen. I’ve risen to some of those challenges, and I’ve curled up and cried, admitting defeat in response to others. But all of that is soon to be a part of my past.

He is leaving the military.

That sentence is but five simple words, but their brevity belies their import, their impact. They have the power to change our world completely. It has taken a lot of time and discussions beyond word count to arrive at those five simple words. I won’t go into detail, as (for the moment) I’m still an officer’s wife. I will behave myself and let him tell his own story in detail, if and to whom he wants to tell it. There has been hope and disappointment. Frustration and resignation. Acceptance and resolve. And, as is always the case when great change approaches, there is new hope, uncertainty, and apprehension.

For me, this means I will once again follow him into a new experience, but it will be a strangeness with which I’m already acquainted. I will start over again in some new place. I will still be far from the land I once called home, in a country other than the one to which I was born. I will likely count him as my only friend, as I count on the other hand the miles and kilometres between me and the rest of the people I love. This time, however, wherever we land, I will already speak the language. And I will be armed what wisdom I’ve managed to gain from four years of life in the Saguenay. It’s strange, but I believe that living through this last chapter, a life that has been too small and often deeply unsatisfying, has given me exactly the tools I need to carve out a life I love in the next chapter.

For him, however, this is not the familiar unfamiliarity that it is for me. It is a personal revolution, a coup d’état of a way of life. He is letting go of everything known and certain, not yet sure of what he will grasp in its stead. He will have to choose his own direction for the first time. He will have to make the decisions that carry us both into the future, the weight of two people now on his shoulders. He will have to look down, see the ground below without the accustomed safety net, and still jump. But…he will be lord of his own teeth for the first time in his adult life. He will be afforded the choices most adults take for granted: whether to shave, how to dress, whether he’s too sick to go to work, and whether or not to see a doctor for that 24-hour bug.

It’s a lot. While I wish I could shoulder some of his burden, I can’t. He has to make the jump. All I can do is what this life has taught me to do. I will jump with him. One, two, three…GO! I will be his biggest fan and cheer him on. I will be his sounding board, an advocate of his or the devil’s, as the occassion demands. I will do my best to land on my feet so I can stand tall beside him. When the world asks a bit too much of him, I will declare it His Day, and I will spoil him and make sure the world stays firmly on the other side of our door.

Most of all, I will try to remind both of us that life only has one speed. It can only come at us one second at a time, with 60 of those seconds to a minute, 60 of those minutes to an hour, and 24 of those hours to a day. We have no magical fast-forward button, but neither does life. It can’t rush us all at once or crowd a week’s worth of trouble into a single day. We are getting what we want, what we need, which is out, though much remains to be done here before we can move forward. The only way out is through. And we will get through, second by second, minute by minute, and day by day, until the future is the now, and our time in the Saguenay is but a memory, a short collection of stories we tell to friends.