I have received a lot of messages since we've moved, and most of them have expressed jealousy or envy at our new house/yard/situation/job/etc. This does not offend me --we do have a great house/yard/situation/job! I am grateful for all of it. Truly. The positives greatly outweigh the negatives in my mind, but the negatives are still there. And some of them are hard.
So before people assume I've "arrived" or our life is all "roses," or I use "too many" quotation "marks," I think I should share with you some of the negatives which balance out the positives in this move.
1. Our house is old.
Not 1687 old (the year our township was incorporated!), but it's about 40 years old. It creaks a lot, we have a septic system that was attached to the sewer system, so we have a septic grinder pump. We have no garbage disposal, and VERY small hot water tank (hot water for showers lasts less than 10 minutes and then you have to wait 5-10 minutes for the next shower if you want it hot). It's big and hollow and cold seeps through (the fireplaces make up for it, which is good, because the heating bill is really expensive!) and although the windows are new, bugs still like to get through. Luckily, bait traps helped with that, and now that it's cold, the bugs aren't as bad as they were. We also have to make sure the dehumidifier is on in the basement so we don't get mold, which can grow really quickly here.
Because we've chosen to live in "the country" (which, really, is funny to me, because I'm from Idaho and there is a significant difference between city and country there! What people mean is we've chosen to live in a township with more land than housing) we don't know people very well. Yes, we have an acre of land --but so do all our neighbors. We still haven't met 85% of our neighborhood (including a next door neighbor). It is amplified because I'm a SAHM with small kids. And it's winter. So, my newness plus winter plus little babies automatically equals isolation. I don't hate it, per se, because up until this point I was so busy and overwhelmed with the move. But now that the dust has settled, I realize how lonely I truly am. In Provo, my neighbors were right outside my door. Plus, they were all LDS and I saw them all the time. It wasn't hard to plan play groups or call my friends to go do something fun.
In fact, yesterday (after an awful DMV experience due to downed computers), I took my little boys to Chick-fil-a for lunch. While there, I noticed all these little groups of mothers with their small kids, chatting and having fun, obviously having come together. It was the first time since the move that my loneliness hit me in the gut.
And my best friends that I left behind are 2-3 times zones behind me. When I want to call and talk (when I do have time), they are all asleep! When they want to call and talk, it's the witching hour for me (after school stuff).
(Okay, I have to add a positive --I do have a new friend and even though she works, and so I don't see her often, I know she likes me. And my buddy from Utah who moved here a few months before we did is here and I could call her up anytime and hang out with her. And my neighbor across the street and I have talked for a few hours on the phone here and there, and she's cool. This loneliness thing will not last very long! Crossing fingers!)
3. Ward Family Expectations
This one is hard because I really shouldn't judge it quite yet, but let me paint you a picture of church culture in my life:
When we lived in Provo, our entire neighborhood was LDS. We're talking 3-4 short blocks and maybe --maybe --one person was not a Mormon. The elementary school was 90% LDS. We saw members of the church every single day because we were all together! Clustered in our small world! Many people outside of a Provo-like ward thinks this is bad and refer to it as "the bubble." Having lived in it and out of it, I'm here to tell you that it was not a bad thing! At all. The only sad/hard part was simply that because people saw each other every day and in every aspect of life, they didn't go out of their way to become a family with each other. This is due mostly to the fact that they had a lot of family nearby, anyway. I mean, don't get me wrong --they would do anything for each other, but everyone still just kind of had their private lives that didn't include their ward members.
Living in California was different. Within one day, I had an instant family at church who embraced us as family. The women and I bonded immediately and we spent as much time together as possible. Our kids went to school together, but we lived far enough away that we wanted to see each other. There were only two Mormon families in our neighborhood, but I spent the majority of my time with my Mormon sisters. Playgroups, date-nights, family parties, Sunday dinners, drop-ins etc. It was amazing! I couldn't believe how quickly these people became like family to us. We flocked to each other and clung together. And even after we moved back to Provo, we have continued to be involved with their lives. We only lived there for one year, dear reader, and yet they are still our friends.
Which brings me to here: I was expecting a California thing when we moved here. I mean, we're outside of the "bubble," right? I imagined that the ward would become our instant family and we'd all pal around together. But it's different here. Very different. And I realize that one of the reasons is simple: distance. Our ward boundaries are very large (comparatively --I know in other parts of the world it's much larger) and it takes nearly 45 minutes to drive from one corner to the other. We are a good 25-30 minutes from the church and there are only 2 other members in our town. Because of this distance, we truly only see people in our ward on Sunday at church. If the other SAHM's are doing anything, I have no idea because they live so far away, you know? And chances are, they aren't doing anything, simply because they are all distanced from each other, too. This distance also means people don't hang out for very long after church. Church is from 10AM to 1PM and so by the time we get our kids, every one is hungry and wanting to get home, and since it's a long drive for most... We do have monthly ward potlucks after church, though.
Another reason could be because our ward dynamics are interesting. We have the Korean branch that has been dissolved and incorporated into our ward (which I think is really cool! Our Bishop is Korean American and his accent is sometimes hard to interpret, but he's one of the most humble and kind men I've ever met), and we are also the magnet ward for the mid-singles in the area. We also tend to have transient members who are here only for graduate schooling (and then they move on), and so there is an influx of people coming and going. We also get a lot of visitors because our ward meets in the Stake Center and is also home to the Philadelphia Mission Office. Add to that the members of the ward who have lived here all of their lives (4-6 decades), and it's hard to get a grasp of ward-family unity...
Of course, this is conjecture based on only one month of living here. I could be wrong; perhaps it just takes time. But meanwhile, this reality check plus my loneliness = some sadness on my part.
4. The sheer amount of stress a move creates.
I'm still dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes through moving across the country. It includes:
*paying new bills, paying old bills, making sure all billing stuff is lined up correctly
*getting new driver's licenses and registering vehicles
*buying our new van
*trying to sell a house back in Utah
*school things (seriously, the schools here are amazing and good, but they are so different and demanding and it's starting to get to me)
*finding doctors, dentists, optometrists, etc.
*living without new furniture we need until we can afford it
*the approaching winter that may or may not be snowy and preparing for power outages (good thing we have fireplaces!)
*timing outings and errands just right so I don't waste gas (because of the distance thing)
*worrying over my kids and their success in a new place, praying they find good friends
Change is not good for my anxiety and depression. The part of me that loves change and adventure tends to be overridden by my chemical imbalance. When we moved to California (and then back again), it was really hard for me and my crazy brain. This is proving to be similar, although I'm a bit more ready for it and have been able to stand and fight it a bit better.
6. My health
I'm severely unhealthy right now. Being overweight is just a part of it, too. A huge part, yes (pun totally intended!), but just a part. I'm overwhelmed because I don't even know how to stop emotionally eating and I don't know how to incorporate time to exercise. The stress of the move and the change of climate has been harsh on my skin and nerves, too. Some things are better --like my asthma (lower elevation and some humidity in the air), but I'm a big bundle of gross gross-y grossness right now. I'm having a really hard time being positive and expressing self-love in the wake of it all as well.
[And it has me doing the yo-yo thinking about why we haven't been able to have a baby, yet. I go from "I'm so sad we're not pregnant, yet, it's taking a long time, almost a year, I'm almost 35, I don't have the luxury of youth anymore, we got an answer to a prayer, why isn't it happening?" to "I'm SO glad I'm not pregnant! I'm so unhealthy and obese that it wouldn't be a good thing, anyway, because I'd probably be high -risk" to "my overweight-unhealthy-ness is the reason I'm not getting pregnant." Fun, eh?]
7. Old habits follow you everywhere
I'd like to change a lot of things about myself. But the move has set me back severely. This does not make me mad, this does not frustrate me, nor do I feel anger about it. It just is what it is, dear reader. But I do wish that I could use this move as a catalyst to become the person I want to be. I'm still hopeful I can.
There you go!
When you combine all of these things together, I guess it looks bleak, dear reader. I didn't mean for it to look bleak! There are so many positives to living here and to the move, I promise. I'm happy --I am! I'm just needing to be realistic so that you can understand what it's really like for me, all those happy and fun Instagram photos aside. (Which reminds me --I'll be sharing photos of the house with furniture and Christmas decorations soon! I know those of you not on Facebook are expecting them.)
Okay, since I can't leave a post on a negative note, here's something awesome for you. I LOVE Christmas!