Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spokane, the U.F.O.

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.

The U.F.O.'s.

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.

A balloon.

8 comments:

Kelly said...

Rae, I wouldn't worry if I were you. You are the one that brings the sunshine, lollipops and rainbows where ever you go. You will find peace and joy in Spokane because YOU will be there! Washington is going to be a better place once you get there. I am telling the truth, just ask Phill--he knows what I'm talking about! Spokane IS a balloon. And now that you know that, run up to it and pop it with your stiletto heels! :I

Kelly said...

(sorry, that was supposed to be a :) at the end)

P.S. I'm jealous of dumb old Spokane.

P.P.S. Can you tell I'm going through my own phases of greiving?

(I really think anywhere in Washington is great. I'd move there if I could!)

camilla said...

JUST TODAY John and I were talking about how great it would be to ditch our kids and go on a vacation to Washington to see you guys someday. Like when Maya is older, and I'm not knocked up again. So just so you know, a trip is already in the works...

Lara said...

Having just made a huge move, I have learned how amazing it is. It's hard, no doubt, but the way I have grown is worth it. And Heavenly Father will always take care of us.

It will be wonderful for you! But I don't really have to tell you that. You know it already. :)

From My Eyes said...

Ha, that is what you get for running that darn early in the morning. US sane people (okay, lazy too) like to do a little thing called SLEEPING.

Qait said...

Well, a lot of those questions have obvious answers to me because I'm so confident in your awesomeness.
But for the questions with harder or unavailable answers, I'm also confident in your strength. You're a woman of incredible love and willpower, so even though you might feel like you're pulling up the comfortable roots you've settled in St. George, your family has its roots in you, in each other, in the gospel. So you'll be happy even if things are hard--against any predictions I'd make for the welcome you'll receive upon arrival in Spokane.

Qait said...

And that's REALLY funny that you were scared by a puny balloon!!! HAH!

Christy said...

I have got to stop reading your posts in Google Reader...I always think I've commented when in fact it was all in my mind...

Anyway, that is SO funny and truly profound. It takes a great mind to find such truth in such a simple thing. A great mind...and a humble heart. I love you. You will love Washington and they will love you!