Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When In Doubt, Choose Wool

In late October I more or less disappeared online, save for a slew of Instagram posts and the occasional one-liner on Facebook. In the midst of moving across the country, household reconfigurations, my normal (abnormal) work schedule, planning a wedding, and trying to get my bearings in a place that is so different from Phoenix in every imaginable way that sometimes it feels like I've landed on another planet, my brain hasn't been able to deal with writing anything beyond the words I write for a living. Honestly, my brain probably still isn't fully recovered and might be functioning on a sub-par level, but here I am, writing anyway.

After spending a decade in the desert, in the sixth largest city in the country, I'm now living in Amherst, MA, population just under 38,000 people and several million snowflakes. People keep asking me how I'm adjusting, and I'm never quite sure how to answer that question, because how do we ever adjust to anything? We just do. We're people. It's what we do. We adjust. Or not. But rigidity is a real pain in the ass for both the inflexible person and everyone they encounter, so I try to keep that at the forefront of my mind.

There are a lot of things that I love about living here. There are a lot of things that I don't love about living here. And there are a ton of things that fall somewhere in the neutral territory in between those two extremes. I am adjusting by adjusting, in ways that are specific to my life and personality and in ways that are universal. I am adapting minute by minute, and am told that it could take years, but the time is passing either way.

Sometimes adjustments are painful. Sometimes they're really fucking hard. Sometimes they feel like the sort of deep, yogic stretches that lengthen the spine and release tension you didn't know you were holding until it went away. Sometimes it's as easy as breathing. Sometimes it feels so good that words fail and are replaced by primal sounds and gestures. Change is inevitable. To me, adapting is an integral part of being alive, and it is an endless series of choices. It took me awhile, but now, in my late thirties, much of it is also choosing how to react to life and admitting that at least that much of the equation is always a choice.

The parts of this adjustment that are out of my control and painful are what they are. I work with them to the best of my ability. I try to catch myself when I fixate on the negatives and shift my powers of hyper-focus to all of the things that are going wonderfully right, and there are a lot of things going right. I usually remember to work to the rhythm of my days as they unfold now, rather than trying to force this life to conform to the old grooves that formed under an entirely different set of circumstances. Sometimes I forget, but it doesn't take long to become evident that things don't work that way anymore, and then I have a good cry, adjust my stance, and try again.

There are a million ways that I could answer questions about how I'm adjusting to life here, and all of them would be true and none of them could come close to the whole truth. Yes, I miss my kids so much that it hurts. Yes, I am madly in love with my partner and I'm thrilled that we're finally living together. Hell no, I am not getting used to the weather. Yes, it is true that when in doubt, you should always choose wool.