As you ascend our stairs, the photos on the walls tell the story of our family. The photos from long ago (okay, ten years) show my husband and I, thinner, younger and surrounded by friends. They’re pictures of parties and festivals and debauchery – there’s a picture of my husband trying to eat the “Chest Mix” in my cleavage. Everyone’s always holding up a glass. There are pictures of weddings and christenings – family’s, friends’ and our own. There’s one wedding picture we have to take down because the couple’s divorced. There’s a photo of a friend I lost ten years ago. There are pictures of friends that grew apart.
What a difference a home makes! Last year at this time my husband and I were miserable. It was April in Seattle, characterized by cold rain storms – a change from the constant showers in the winter and half-days of rain in the fall. We’re summer people and in Seattle we had to wait forever for summer. If we were lucky, it would come in June. Most of the time, summer came in July but sometimes it would hold out until August. Once summer arrived in Seattle, we had beautiful weather – 70s and 80s and hardly any clouds, but it was too short for us.
We moved back to Maryland in December. Six years ago, we’d moved out by the Chesapeake Bay and we loved it there, but my husband got a promotion that took us to Seattle. We were optimistic, but after six years, Seattle grated on us. It wasn’t just the weather. It was the people. Seattleites, for the most part, are very polite and superficially nice, but they’re very guarded. I knew people for years in Seattle and didn’t learn anything about them. I’m not making it up. The phenomenon has a name: “The Seattle Freeze.” It refers to the moment that Seattleites freeze up – usually the moment you ask them anything more personal than their name. They’re also called “The nicest people you’ll never get to know.” Sometimes you’d know someone for years and then find out they never liked you.
It took a lot of doing but we did it. We’re officially East Coasters again. It all started with a house. We wanted to move but didn’t have a firm date, a job, or a plan. Nevertheless, I was cruising the real estate sites (See “My real [estate] obsession”). I insisted that my husband find a job first, until I found my dream house online and had to have it.
My husband had been running into road blocks on his job search because recruiters would see his address and assume he’d want them to cover moving expenses, even though his cover letter clearly stated that he wouldn’t. So he was pushing to move without a new job. I vehemently objected, then I found the house, we reviewed our finances and we had a meeting of the minds.
I hate being a food-allergy family. We resisted for so long, but we can’t resist anymore. My daughter is allergic to artificial colors. They make her crazy and self-destructive (See Dethroning the Drama Queen). And I just discovered that I’m allergic to corn. It was a huge contributor to my migraines. (See A Hill of Beans)
So now, like so many moms, when I go to the grocery store, I read every single label on every single product I buy. Or don’t buy. The other day I went shopping and I told my husband I’d be fairly quick. I only had seven items on my list. I was wrong. With the new regime, I had to read every single label, and reject product after product. It took me an hour and a half to buy those seven items.
Good news this week. I went to the doctor because I’d been having some low-grade nausea and what I could only describe as hot flashes. I’d feel terribly hot suddenly and for up to a half-hour, several times a day. I looked up hot flashes and the description said they were sweaty affairs that focused on the head and chest and left you cold. Mine weren’t like that. My whole body got hot, I never sweated and when they were done, I just felt normal. So I concluded that I wasn’t having hot flashes. What I was having, though, felt a lot like morning sickness, so I started to panic.