I’m writing you this morning from the bed of a roadside motel in West Virginia. The walls inside are all wood, the entire place looking like a big log cabin. It’s cozy feeling, with ruffled curtains, checkered blue and white bedspreads and warm corner lamps. I’ve woken up in a good mood, which I am infinitely grateful for, and hoping I can keep around.
Mike, Shelby and I woke up around 2:30am, after I barely got any sleep. I dragged myself into the truck and proceeded to try and sleep during the 5 hour drive here… which was minimal. This is usual for Mike. He likes to drive through the night. I have never experienced this, and can say that it’s far from my favorite way to begin a vacation. I fought tired eyes most of the day yesterday, as well as trying to keep in good spirits. I failed quite a lot.
I have to admit, even as we got into the mountains, no part of me was feeling too excited. All I could think of is everything that wasn’t right… no sleep, it’s too early for there to be leaves on the trees yet so everything is brown. It turned out to be almost 80 out in the afternoon, far warmer than predicted and I had only brought clothes for cooler weather.
Back home, in Texas, it’s green and lush already out. Spring has fully arrived. Here, the trees are just barely beginning to bud out leaves this week. Everything is still brown. The comparison could not be more different. The changing seasons is proving to be one of the hardest new losses of moving so far from the place I’ve called home.
The bluebonnets are exploding in color in Texas. It’s one of my favorite events of the year - heading out into the country for hours just driving around and seeing the oceans of blue on the roadside and through the rolling ranch hills. Sometimes you find a pasture so full of them that you can’t even see the green grass… and the fragrant smell hits you as soon as you crack a window or open your car.
This is the first year in my life that I’ve ever missed the bluebonnets and wildflowers in spring. For many years I’ve had a tradition of driving around endlessly in the Texas countryside during those few short weeks, taking photos of all the flowers. But here, it is different. In Texas, the wildflowers only have a short window to bloom, and so it all happens within about a month’s time, extravagantly so. So far, from what Mike has told me, the flowers in Ohio come up all summer long, in much slower waves. So you get them for longer, but in much less spectacular fashion. For example, all we’ve gotten so far are some clusters of daffodils, which don’t exactly cover entire hillsides and pastures.
I’m sad about this change. So much sadder than I thought I could possibly be about some damn flowers. But it’s true, I feel like I need some time to actually grieve and process yet another loss of my new life. I don’t think I’ve taken the time to really feel through it, keeping myself busy instead lately. But I can tell, it’s catching up to me. I’m having a hard time even enjoying the new flowers that surround me because I miss the old ones so. I think I need to take my time to feel the sadness, no matter how trivial it seems, and also to find new ways to bring the old flowers into my life now. One example is that I found a different variety of flower in the family of bluebonnets that actually does grow in northern regions. It’s purple, not blue, but looks almost identical. It’ll better than nothing.
It’s such a metaphor for moving forward with our lives after losing our partners. There will be new losses all along the path… and I think that if we don’t continually take the time to step back and allow ourselves to grieve those losses, it starts to build up. If we do not feel those feelings, we can start to push away the new. We’ll catch ourselves comparing to the old and having resentment for the new creep in. In small ways, I think this has happened for the weekend for me.
As I’m waking this morning after finally having a very good night’s rest, I’m realizing that we still have a lot of learning to do about each other. This isn’t a road trip with Drew. It’s nothing like our road trips. We listen to different music. Our rhythm isn’t as in sync since it’s all newer. And also because there is now a 9 year old in the backseat. Love her as I do, it is a whole other experience to have a kiddo constantly wanting all of my attention, especially when she doesn’t do this to Mike. She doesn’t call him over for all 110 things she wants to show someone. She calls me. I love this, do not get me wrong. Most of the time I am overjoyed to experience the world with her, and share in all these little moments. But I am also real, and honest, and it’s exhausting. I’m quite introverted really, so on top of just normal tired I also get very easily overwhelmed at times with her. I’m trying my best to find moments to breathe, to be better at voicing when I need a break, but I still have a hard time. Mike doesn’t always realize that it’s getting to me either. And so, we still have a lot of learning to do, on both ends.
Another thing that’s very different is that Drew and I were usually only traveling to places that we both knew… and typically I was the planner. Now I’m going places only Mike knows, and letting him take the lead on things. That’s hard when I’m so used to planning trips and activities myself. Plain and simple, I don’t like being the one who isn’t in control. I don’t like having to trust someone else to plan a trip well. Now, Mike likes to do all of that too, and we will likely have to learn how to trade off a bit more.
It’s clear, new life is going to require that we find our own new balance. It’s going to take patience, and really good communication, and lots of empathy, and new perspective. Sometimes I am so frustrated by that, because I already DID all of this stuff once before. But this is where I am, and this new person is worth it, so I’m just going to have to get on board the best I can. It’ll just take time. We’ll have to discover our own natural wonders to love in this new life together... maybe at times, I’ve been so preoccupied with the flowers that I haven’t been able to see the beauty of what else is there as fully. Maybe the wonders of this new life aren’t flowers at all, but waterfalls and caverns and gorges and cliffs. Mountains instead of rolling plains. Streams, lakes and rivers instead of beaches and oceans.
The landscape of our love is quite different, but no less beautiful, than the landscape of my love with Drew. I just have to remember to take the time to miss the flowers of old, to cry for them a bit, to honor them more often. I have to pay closer attention to my own needs of comfort within all of this newness too, so that I can actually embrace the vistas in front of me more fully. This shit isn’t easy, living and loving again. Hopefully someone else has a sigh of relief out there though that they are not the only one having all these complications to new love. It’s no reflection on you or your person, it just is love after love.