Sunday, November 14, 2010

Letting Go. A Pep Talk

In typical Aries manner, I always, and I mean always, jump head first in the river without realizing that I can’t actually swim. All of a sudden, I find myself in the deep midst of it, and then I go: “Oh, s^it! Now what?!” …

That’s pretty much how moving to The States felt like. And that’s pretty much how moving across America, 12 years later feels like, too. Moral of this story is: I never learn.

I moved to UT in May of this year to follow my heart. Just like moving to The States a while back, I have zero regrets. Usually, I try not to have any regrets about anything. A dear friend of mine says regrets are for weak folks, and an Aries will never admit weakness. I say that everything is a lesson and everything an adventure, so I have enjoyed thoroughly the good and the bad of the last few months …

But when I jumped in that car to come to The West, I had no second thoughts about what I left behind. With eyes wide open and perpetual curiosity, I was just happy about the unknown ahead. The places and people I was leaving behind – I was just happy to carry them in my heart and I figured we would always be close, as true friends are. I never expected I’d be missing them, or worse that I might never hear again from most. After all, we were so tight. So close. So … present … Nothing would change, other than we might not see each other, but we’d write. And talk. And of course, Facebook, too. But as life would have it – sometimes, one is wrong.

Every day a small jab of missing-ness shows up in my ribs just as a painful reminder that the world is too fast and too busy for living in the past. A small jab to remind me that things are what they are and will never be the same as they were 2000 miles away from here.

It’s tough to realize that what the day to day life used to be like in North Carolina can no longer be. I had friends there, and groups I associated with. A social life, and a “personal” life, if you will, that are missing here, because the people and circles that made that life possible are missing now.

I know – this is just common sense, and I should not take a couple of hours of my life to write about something so trivial. But truth is: you always hope that life and relationships matter more than they end up mattering. After all, you put time, and soul in every one. At least I do. Plus, I have some Romanian left in me, and things, and people and memories attach to me, like algae to rocks, staining them.

With every day that passes when I don’t hear from people I loved there, the jab in the ribs is more and more painful, it seems. Am I that easily forgotten? Are they that busy that they cannot email me at least once a month to check on things? Are 12 years of friendship that volatile to them? I did write to them first … but the wait of a response for days and sometimes weeks became too much to bear. So … now, I wait … Disappointment …

And then, there is the house that I left behind. A house that I loved, and that now feels like a huge burden. Every day that passes where I don’t get a call from the realtor that I might have had an offer of purchase, I feel the jab in the ribs hurting a little more … I feel like one more day on the market means one more day of neglecting the house. Bigger assuredness of having to jump on that plane waiting for me in Salt Lake with destination Greensboro to go check on it. One more drag in the past … One more worry … Guilt …

But this past week, when I decided to go out here and seek out new groups and new people and new opportunities, it dawned on me. There is a whole new life here, too, that I am missing out on. With every person I meet that has at least one thing in common with me, I feel a little bit less lonely. With every single loving thing that my husband does, I feel a bit less alone. With every single thing I find here, too (a favorite store, a favorite food, fried pickles on a menu, or a bag of Munchos in the grocery aisle), I feel a little bit more home.

As for those I left behind, people have lives too. Lives that don’t include me anymore, and that’s not their fault. I chose to leave. They didn’t kick me out. If all I will be is a memory to them, I am fine with that. I hope I would be a pleasant one. As with anything: I have control only over how I treat them, not the other way around. And I will always be here for whomever needs me … Should that ever happen … The house will do as houses usually do: it will sell, or rent, in its own allotted time … That is not for me to decide. Only for me to accept.

But I do have control over what’s around me now, and what will be a new memory tomorrow: there is a whole new world out here, in the mountains. There are fun people, and beautiful days to be filled. There are mountains to be climbed and birds to feed. Gardens to plant, movies to go to and groups to join, here. And now.

The past is called that for a reason. A door closed and I need to be aware of it, keep it closed and just welcome flashbacks from the past as they happen, if they happen. And most times, we just need to live with the volatility and futility of it all. Even if that all is ourselves. It's just life and the nature of humanity - passing.

In one of my more recently read books, one of my favorite authors says that when we move on in life, it feels just like someone pushed us off a bridge into a fast moving stream. Our first impulse is to grab on to the grass and twigs and branches along the banks of the river and hang on tight, because the stream is such foreign territory to us, used to the stability and familiarity and peace of the banks. But with time, the river wins. And we start letting go of the blades of grass and the twigs, little by little, until we hold on to nothing anymore and we start moving along, learning to swim in the new environment, and learning to let go and trust the new medium to take us to yet another safe shore … Every day, our fingers let go of one more blade of grass, until we have none left and the old shore is nothing but distant, and nothing but a memory.

I am still letting go of the last few twigs. The last one will be the house, for sure … but until then, I am practicing this swimming deal. And learning how it goes. After all, I jumped. And it’s either learning to swim or drowning. And the last thing an Aries wants is to accept defeat!

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Sometimes the roads less traveled go straight through your own town. That’s what we ended up finding out this weekend, for lack of a better occupation. We walked those roads and found out where they took us.

Trying to enjoy the last bit of a finicky Indian Summer, we decided to take Saturday off from house chores and what-not’s and just stroll about the small (that is an understatement!) downtown of our presently hosting town of Spanish Fork, as well as through Springville, the next town over. The luxury of living in a small burgh is that it only takes a few minutes to cover the downtown walk. So that leaves you plenty of time in the day to visit the next small city (glorified name alert!).

Aside from the weather being just spotless beauty that day, the thorough enjoyment of the adventure also came from unexpected findings like shops with treasures, unique local art, history, old times charm and lots of just plain local beauty.

We got lost in an antique store and then in a local gift and sweets store, and we had lunch at an unusual joint, that advertises “Chinese and American” fare on their sign. We took in the specific of these parts, which speaks so much of what the West stands for, and which are built mainly on family values (read: “kids”) and the Mormon Faith and traditions.

I’ll let the pictures we took speak for themselves about the local flair of what it means to live in a smaller than small Utah County (a.k.a. “The Most Mormon County in Utah”) town. I hope you find them telling.

Enjoy the journey! (just click on any of the pictures to see them larger)

We found out at the Spanish Fork Library that the first white man expedition around here was not Mormon, indeed, but Franciscan/ Spanish. There is a monument erected to celebrate this expedition on the Library's front lawn.

This time capsule also at the Spanish Fork Library marks my first ever encounter with such a landmark. I was trying to figure out if I will be alive when it's set to be opened. Probably not!

The downtowns of both Spanish Fork and Springville look very much like your typical Western town: lots of connected one story businesses, in a row, across the street from each other. But a zebra on the roof?! Now, that's different. And I have no idea what business that is, and why a zebra! No, zebras don't live in the Rockies, for those who are wondering ...
- Spanish Fork

Strangeness of Spanish Fork: directions on how to cross a road WITH a flag and major fire hazard. I knew these folks are way crazy about Christmas decorations, but seriously, this does not look safe. And what in the world is "normal caution" anyway?! Hhmm ...

Both Spanish Fork and Springville have family owned drug stores in their downtowns. We always wonder how in the world they stay in business with Walgreens just at the next corner, but ... selling dolls is evidently how - in this family oriented town, those are on high demand, I am sure! - Spanish Fork

And speaking of Walgreens: we spotted this shirtless gentleman in the parking lot of Walgreens, just standing there. No, he was not homeless, by all appearances, he had just hung up his cell phone as I was taking the picture. And was just waiting there... Small town indeed. - Springville

I absolutely loved this store in Springville! It is a gift and sweets store, and everything else you might want to sell, with a local flavor - homemade crafts, "inspirational" gifts and such.
We witnessed a conversation of folks putting in their order for homemade breads for Thanksgiving with the owner, and it was just like coming home again. Nothing beats the personalized, individual attention your small town "mom and pop" store gives you! The name of the store is ShayBee's and it's lovely! The way they preserved the original outside walls where they probably built on an addition was interesting, as well.

There was a memorial square of some sort commemorating settlers, or so it seemed, in Spanish Fork. This particular plaque caught my eye: He was a homebuilder and she was a homemaker and they were both successful. Career women, eat your hearts out! Only home, I noticed that her name was "Margaret Mitchell", one of my most treasured American writers to date ...

Downtown Spanish Fork, the old and the new collide: I am browsing a 1905 edition of the book "One Hundred Years of Mormonism" on the patio of our very own, local, family owned coffee shop. Yes, coffee in Utah County - with a sassy sign, nonetheless.

Eating establishments: "T-Bone Restaurant" in the first picture - one online review described it as " a total dive, but the food is good", and they were not far off! Second picture: the beautiful stained glass windows at Magleby's, another restaurant staple - both in Springville.

Springville, or "The Art City", is literally littered with metal and marble and ... whatever else material you can think of sculptures. Please visit the whole album for a broad depiction of these unique works. You will notice that most of these sculptures are of kids.

My favorite sculpture of all was of course Mark Twain, in front of the old Public Library (1922) in Springville, now a museum. So cozy ...

And because these establishments are filled with little ones more often than not, there were warnings on some of the metal sculptures which made us chuckle.

These markers were all over Springville. They spoke to me, as a live testament of the Old West and its Pioneers. Just like an old coin, branded in everlasting metal, they bore the mark of time, history, hope and faith. It was moving. It's not just brick and mortar of old walls a town is not. It's lives, and people who built it, and their story and perseverance that gave us what we have today.

Springville: I just loved some of its architecture.

Fall in Springville.

Visit the album of this trip to see more. And remember: the next revelation of the year, or of your life can be hidden down that road you never ventured on because it was marked "one way". Park the car and wander about.

Treasures abound right under our noses. And if writers bear any truth, "you might wake up spiritually as easily in Utah as in Sri Lanka" (Anne Lamott), so you never have to travel that far ...