Carolina in the Morning...in June
I'll be honest. June is THE month when I always lose my mind. The heat, the monotony, the end of any school, preschool, or childcare, unfinished projects I wanted to do while they were in preschool that didn't happen, and nowhere to go and groceries to buy and laundry multiplying--it drives me insane. June is when I feel the consequences of never finishing everything I wanted to during a school year, and when I have the least control over my time and environment. It's crushing, especially for this work-minded, goal-oriented, perfectionist mama. And not just since I've been a mama, either. I think it started in Arizona, before kids, before pregnancy, maybe even before marriage.
June in Arizona is the driest, most barren, dusty month. It is hot without reprieve, as the monsoons don't start until July. If you're going to get 110+ degree temperatures, that is the time and place. I remember the first time the thermometer hit 117 in Tucson our first summer there in 2006. I stepped out onto our apartment balcony just to see what it felt like. It was a calming, suffocating, drug-like blanket of heat. Hot breath in, cooler breath out. A very strange sensation indeed. It was almost as weird as I'd experience our first winter in Maine seven years later, taking my first deep breath in sub-zero temperatures, feeling the air crystallize every hair in my nose instantly, and hearing and feeling the crunch when I pinched my nose.
One summer, after a school year finishing my Master's in education, and landing a job I spent 15 tireless hours a day at, teaching as well as planning the whole next school year, and then getting laid off after a semester's hard work, I really felt lost and frustrated. Geoff and I were struggling. He was still in graduate school and while we were happy, we were also just both really young and I was still working on my identity. I had taken a leap of faith by turning down what I had convinced myself I wanted: entrance into a PhD program in cellular and molecular biology. Like Geoff, I knew I wanted to teach. But if I'm honest with myself, I only truly wanted this to prove that I really was what I felt I never got credit for. That I was smart. That I was more than what I looked like, more than good at art or music or other things considered acceptable or feminine. That I was good at things that I cared about, not just the things I felt my world was telling me were acceptable for me to pursue. And then I saw that I really could do what I always thought I could, that I was as smart as I thought I could be, that I could accomplish the terminal degree in what I thought was not only an area I was interested in, but one that would make people see how intelligent I was. And ironically, it gave me the courage and confidence to turn it down and do what all that preparation ultimately prepared me to do: make my own path, even without a map.
Although I didn't see this trip as a literal interpretation of that at the time, I just did what I felt I had to do. I packed in a hurry, dumped all my canisters of film in a cooler of ice, took all the money out of my bank account, and skipped town with an envelope of cash. I called Geoff on my way out of town to let him know I'd be back in a few days or maybe a week, that I was just going on a trip. He was concerned, but he understood.
I lost myself in Arizona, in the days before Smartphones with GPS. I found an old abandoned mine, long stretches of desert and tumbleweed, and cows that didn't seem to have any boundaries. I walked so close to a bull I could have reached out and touched his nose. I found big boulders to climb and sunsets that incinerated the sky in hot red and yellow and deep blue, in clouds of settling dust. One day I drove into a space in the desert where no one else was around, and after a few hours there, shooting and writing, finally -- to the north, dark storm clouds. To the south, hot wind and sunshine. Sweet reprieve.
When I returned home, I discovered I was expecting our first baby.
And so June is like that - for me, always full of waiting, of endless hot hours of extended anticipation. For storms, for watermelon, for the Fourth of July. In the Native American tribes of the Sonoran desert, I learned that the full moon that comes in June is called the Hunger Moon, since the long stretches without rain make for difficult hunting and gathering. I feel this way in my soul, too. Even here, in lovely, warm South Carolina, I still feel itchy to get out and get away and feel cool and refreshed. Luckily, this year, we'll be leaving for Hawaii for several weeks at the end of this month. I could not possibly be more ready! Between the anemia with Eloise's pregnancy, her feeding and neck and head issues and surgeries, my grandfather dying, Geoff being away, and Kindergarten being over before I even felt like I had a chance to get my head above water, I'm just dying for a life raft. For me, travel is just that. I cannot wait to get up on it and float for awhile before diving in and swimming again.
But in the meantime...there certainly were bright spots this month. I let the kids have sleepovers with the baby. We went to Charleston to visit some extended family. I FINALLY got to decorate a kids' room - Gracy's! The older kids went to an arts camp at Converse and at the end of the week, we saw their adorable performance. Gracy's group did a song about the rainbow, and she was the Gold at the end of the rainbow! I was so surprised, and it was totally adorable! And of course, she glowed. She loves the stage. Probably no surprise there.
We took all three kids in for their checkups all at once and we were there almost THREE HOURS. (Never again! That was so crazy! But so entertaining...) This was also the summer that the ice cream truck came to our house nearly every day. And the summer we christened the new red canoe Geoff gave me for my birthday (which was awesome, since we spent that day in surgery with Eloise!) And of course, there were the regular meals, laundry, and walks to the park. All in all, never a dull moment, that's for sure! But I'm so ready for a change of scenery...next blog post starts Hawaii!
This is what I saw.