Getting a nice new life is wonderful--and stressful. Holidays are stressful. Put those two things together, and what do you get? A mishmash of emotions that can wallop you when you're not even looking.
I love seeing the sun play on Shadow Hills each morning when I open my blinds. I carry my sleepy little dog out to his favorite bush to pee, and I rejoice in the birdsong that greets us. We get back into bed and sleep an extra hour, listening to the waterfall through the open window. Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is around the corner (facts that flummox me, because it looks like summer out there!), and I'll be with family. It's all good, right?
So, why did I get tears in my eyes when I walked into the aroma of fresh-cut pine trees at Stater Brothers grocery store? It's the aroma of the Pacific Northwest, as dependable there as the sunshine is here. I didn't realize how much I miss it, until that moment. I felt sad in the bakery aisle when I saw the pineapple upside-down cake mix and realized I wouldn't be tasting my friend Melody's homemade-in-an-iron-skillet pineapple upside-down cake this Christmas. It's the little things that get me. The comforts of small familiar things are strung together like cranberries on a Christmas tree. When the string breaks, all those little things fall away, leaving a bare tree. I guess that's where I am now. I have a bare tree and need some cranberries. But it will take time.
I hold Oliver a lot; we both enjoy it. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't like to hold my former tiny black dog and feel his bony little body in the crook of my arm. I'm making new acquaintances, some of whom I think will become friends, over time. We talk and talk, getting to know each other. For the holidays, I sure would like to sit in my old friends' living rooms, sipping wine or tea or Scotch, sometimes being quiet together because we already know and love each other.
It's very American to start over again in a new place. We're all emigrants and pioneers, giving up our familiar comforts and companions for something we hope will be better in some way. My hopes are being fulfilled, but holidays are about celebrating bonds and familiarity--both in short supply when you're "the new girl." When you're in transition, there's nothing quite like the holiday season to remind you what you've given up.
I look forward to stringing together many years' worth of experiences and comforts in my new life. I won't forget--because I can't--the one I just dismantled. I'll hang out with my old family that hasn't seen much of me in the last 20 years, and chat up my new acquaintances at the holiday parties. And maybe I'll indulge myself in just a little bit of holiday nostalgia, quietly toasting my beloved buddies in the Northwest. Skoll!