Over a year ago, on one particularly early morning training run in preparation for the marathon (2009), I was out running long before the sun. As usual when running in the dark, I felt jittery and a bit paranoid, but knew that most of my run would be in daylight, so I plodded along the street, which was lit only by street lamps, interspersed further apart than I would have liked.
About half a mile into my run, I began to loosen up and shed my nervousness. I got into a good groove and as usual, began to enjoy the run. Suddenly, I spotted something in the distance. Something hovering strangely in the middle of the street. I was confused for a moment, then seized with something much like panic as I watched this object moving on the road....I squinted into the darkness, trying to make sense of it. Many options went through my mind: A cat?....Some sort of mobile camera? [It was 4:45 in the morning....we all know my mind goes to anxious places at such hours of the day]...a small, ferocious animal? At times, parts of it would glint in the inky-dark morning, and I would be overcome with a fresh wave of fear, thinking that this strange animal (?!) was quietly observing me. It was maybe 40 feet away.
I had stopped running, then walking, and simply stood on the side of the road, shaking and completely confused for several minutes. Presently, a car went past, and the object moved lightly away from the car. Something in my brain--probably the gear that doesn't usually start working until 8:00a.m.--whirred to life. Something about this was familiar. Then another car passed, and this object, this glinting, light object, was lifted high above the ground by the resulting air current. And finally it clicked into place.
It was a balloon.
A cellophane helium balloon.
Probably from some kid's party.
Something thoughtlessly let into the sky, with no idea of the terror it would cause an already-nervous morning runner.
Something completely, utterly, and hilariously harmless.
I laughed out loud, then continued laughing, which evolved into relieved tears and then more laughter. That Unidentified Floating Object--that shiny balloon in the dark--had almost unthreaded me at the seams. And all because I didn't know what it was.
This last Monday, I had a bit of a meltdown. A combination of plain old exhaustion and a delayed reaction to the news of our upcoming move. Somehow, when I first received that news a couple weeks ago, I processed it in a miniature, very-convenient way. I skipped Part 1, Assimilation, the part where you digest and then mourn the future event. The part where it's ugly and you cry hard enough that your breath comes in shuddering gasps.
I admit I wanted to skip that part. So after a few tears--the kind where you simply swallow that lump in your throat, and let it sit in your stomach for weeks--I sat down at the computer, wanting to be ready to move on to Part 2. Part 2 is Research. I googled "Spokane, WA" and spent a couple of weeks just absorbing facts, without letting the real scope of things reach my brain.
But Monday came, and, well, the floodgates opened. It was as if someone grabbed my shoulders and shook me, saying, "Do you not realize what this means?" Maximum processing happened. My dear friends, the upcoming events [read: newborns] coming in those friends' lives, events that I would possibly miss or of which I would only get to see a shortened version. The change of housing, of schooling, of friendships, for my children. [Hardest part yet] The adjusting.
And worst of all, the What Ifs.
What if no one there likes us?
What if my boys hate the school?
What if the boys hate me for having to move?
What if my photography isn't well-liked there?
What if Phill gets deployed right after I get there?
What if I feel lonely for months and months?
And the more complicated set:
What if I love it?
What if it's a dream come true?
What if my children never want to leave there?
All of these things rose up and I examined them at great length, standing in a puddle of water-drowned tears in the shower. I prayed. First desperately, then fervently, then resigned, and then....something else. Hopefully. Faithfully. And at last, beginning to see that this Spokane, this U.F.O., well, this could be nothing more than a harmless party balloon. Floating in the dark for now, but a (maybe even delightful) relief when viewed up-close. So for now, that is how I am choosing to view it.