These past nine months have been a real test of my strength, both physical and emotional, but I think it's safe to say that the hardest part of transitioning back-and-forth from the city to the country is over. I have a few new scars - one from moving the Murphy bed, which sliced my leg. A couple of injuries - my right knee is jacked-up perhaps forever, and I think I'm starting to get wrinkles. All from working on our three rentals and having to commute back and forth from OR to CA so often.
During these months we've lost friends who couldn't understand our situation, and decided to write us off. I've also had to say "no" to all family gatherings because of our tight schedule. Happily however, I've realized again how precious true friends are, and seem to value them even more than when we left. Family too. These are the people who never made us feel bad for not being able to see them while we were in town, and others who came to see US even though we were covered in dirt, dust and blood, without chairs to sit on or anything to drink and lacked in conversation because we were so exhausted. To these people, I say, "Thank you for your understanding, God bless you!"
I still laugh when I remember one friend sitting on the cold floor in her work clothes, talking away about life while I painted walls and trim, happy to have someone there just talking to me. Or another time I was working alone on the place and my cousins took me to the Hob Nob, and I pigged out like I hadn't eaten in a week. In retrospect, I don't think I had very much to eat that week, but they thrilled at my hearty appetite and fronted the bill with a loving wink and a smile. Then there's my mom who happily sewed curtains for the tenants windows for me. It makes me cry to think of how giving people can be, how blessed I am.
Another upside to all this, is now that we have amazing tenants and the house is the fittest it has ever been, when we do go back-and-forth from OR to CA we can have some fun with friends and family. In fact, the last two times I've gone down have been the most enjoyable, because no hard labor was required and those who were not understanding are out of our lives. I was even able to wear a skirt while my Carhartts rested peacefully on the floor next to my Danners, both covered in nine months of dirt and grime, but shining testaments of our hard work.
If I'm lucky I won't have to go down for a while, which means we'll get to enjoy Spring on the Oregon Coast. I want to explore tide pools and hunt for treasure, scoop up shells and unusual rocks on the beach, run into the ocean screaming and then sit quietly and watch the sun put on a melancholy play for us, before falling into a curtain of blue water. Tony's excited to make bon-fires on the beach again, roast weenies on a stick, make smores and go for long motorcycle rides together to Smith River and Portland.
We're expecting friends and family this summer. I'm so excited to cook and clean for them, give them lots of hugs and kisses, reward them for all of their patience and understanding. Then very soon, these hard months will become a blur and all we'll remember are the lovely people who helped us survive the storm and the fun we've had together.