And for once I was SuperMom

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Few Minor Changes

I'm going to take a breather from my Kosovo saga to tell you about what is going on in our life presently. Of course it has taken me forever to write this story about our trip overseas, I've been preparing paintings (read: finishing) for two upcoming shows, I have a toddler, we have just made a major life decision, and I have a toddler. Did I mention that I have a toddler?
Did you catch the major life decision comment? What's that? What did we decide?
On Tuesday my husband got a job offer for a position in the greater Boston area. We took it. We have to move from rural Colorado to the east coast in nine days. A completely, out of left field, really?, move.
Other than the distinct feeling that someone has placed me in the bowl of a catapault I am doing fine. Just fine.
Did I mention that I still have to hang an art show on Wednesday, the day before we head out?
Admittedly I'm a bit stressed out.
Our apartment has vomited on itself. All the closets, drawers, and cupboards have been turned inside out, the material contents displayed on floors and counters. Things I haven't seen or used suddenly become something I can't live without. I make the sacrifice and throw it away and then six months later I suddenly want it. Sometimes I hate stuff.
It'a strange to see te detritus of your life scattered about. Is this what makes me? Unused travel bottles, random pictures of people whose name's you've forgotten, half eaten bags of trail mix, etc.
We have startes saying goodbye to friends here in BV. Most friends we will see again, the boomerang force of family will bring us back here again. I said goodbye to one friend who will be leavng BV in a few months, she turned to me and said,
"I feel like I am never going to see you again, ever," she may be right. I cried as she drove away. Every move I make in this world we meet new amazing people and make great friends, and every move I leave these people behind. Some I will see again, and many I won't.
This move is the first move that I have made that didn't seem to have an end date. When I moved to Chicago it was for grad school, a year and a half and I was done, I could go where I want. When we moved to Colorado we knew it was a temporary time before moving to Kenya. When we moved to Kenya we knew we would only be there a few years, just enough time to work ourselves out of a job. When we moved back to Colorado we knew it was temporary again, until Scott found a job. This one is different, the job that Scott took is one that could expand. There might be opportunities for me. We will be right next to the ocean. These are all things that could turn into permanent.
I am excited by this, and saddened by this. I'm excited to move to a more populated area, to move closer to the ocean, to move to a place with more seasons and less winter. I am saddened that we are moving farther away from family, and saddened that this could be it, a death to my wander lust.
As our walls empty and boxes fill up I wonder if I will love it in Boston. I wonder what I am heading into. Will we make friends? Will my daughter grew up an east coaster? Will we move in a few years? Nothing to do but pack and go and find out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hiking Day II

Our first day on the trail was fairly quick and painless. The group did well, even though most of the trail was buried in several inches of snow. We had two people lead and break the trail with snow shoes. I hung out in front for the first part of the day, and felt quite stressed by continuing to have to lightly suggest that we make sure we stay together as a group and feeling unable to say, 'there is no heroism in charging ahead,' in Albanian.
Our goal was a tarn that cozied up to the border of Montenegro. When we reached our goal boys ran out across snowy hills to discover our campsite. A flat area, beneath trees, on top of a knoll. As we set out to build a campsite, digging out layers of snow to pitch tents and make a fire pit. I volunteered to go with the group to fill up water bottles in the nearby spring. When I came back with full water receptacles (there had been much discussion and attempts to open and fill a participants Camelback) people were hard at work gathering firewood, shoveling snow, pitching tents, and building a quinzy (a snow shelter) I had a hard time finding anything to do.
Impressed and pleased, my mood slowely began to go south as it started to snow. I started to shiver and feared the upcoming night. On my first backpacking trip in a surprise spring snow shower I got hypothermia, because of a poorly built shelter my sleeping bag got slowly soaked throughout the night. I was awake all night and in the morning exited my tent pulling on wet pants and announcing to my leaders that I coudn't get warm. I fear the cold. Deeply.
As Scott and I took a moment to discuss the various temporary structures that were going up for our night's stay I noticed that some of the balls of hail-like snow were actually snowflakes. As I lifted my gloved hands up under my nose I noticed that they truly did look like those paper cut-outs I had made in elementary school in San Diego. A quick moment of beauty during my inner panic about the oncoming cold night.
Dinner was cooked quickly, with much deliberation on how to balance a pot on some rocks. I was non-directive and allowed participants to figure it out. Or I was tired and clueless. Read my decision however you want. We devoured a dinner of pasta, smoked sausage, and green beans and dived into our tents. I was sharing our two man tent with the only female participant, a teenage girl named Yvonne. I had brought a sleeping pad with me, a rare treat in my backpacking experience. I almost gave it away but a the last moment decided that I carried the damn thing up, it was mine. All night long Yvonne wiggled, like a fish out of water. I was hesitant to say anything because I wasn't sure if she was awake or not, was it some strange sleep tick or what? I actually slept well, I was not cold at all, if not for the wriggling of my tent mate I believe I would have slept all night long.
In the morning I asked Yvonne how she had slept,
"Horrible, I was freezing, I kept putting clothes in my sleeping bag between me and the ground." I felt a pang of guilt, but then thought, 'I've served enough freezing sleepless nights in my life.' Selfish, maybe? Redemptive, yes.
As I unzipped my tent into the frozen world I was greeted by more falling flakes. I crouched in knee deep snow to pee and thought, 'We're going home today.' We had one more night planned. Most of us were frozen and had not slept a wink. Those in the snow shelter had fled half way through the night and made one tent overcrowded. Scott reported that he had slept with his arms squeezed together and on the diagonal (this seems to happen to him a lot, I don't know why).
We checked around and found most people with wet boots and socks. We made it official, back to camp. Scott looked at the mountain that bordered Montenegro and gritted his fists in mock frustration that we weren't going to make that border crossing. I was fairly grateful to head for the relative warmth of camp.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


So on Friday one of the families that we working with came up to camp, they brought with them bread that I ordered for our lunches. After eating doner and seeing the cross between a pita and a tortilla that was available I thought this would be a perfect local option for backpacking lunches. As they unloaded four full boxes 45 pie plate sized loaves of bread that looked like something out of biblical times I said to the father of the family,
"You know I was picturing pita bread."
"So were we," he then went on to tell me about the conversations with the bakery where he told them to make it flatter and they, well, didn't. I sighed, reattached my jaw, and thought, 'I am not wholly responsible for this,' and decided that every participant would just carry what they felt they needed. There, solvable problems.
As the day wore on and participants called in to confirm or show up, we started the snowy morning thinking we might have to cancel the trip, but as the sun appeared and stayed we swelled to 17 participants. Fifteen boys and men, me and a teenage girl. Soon it became apparent that our training trip was turning into a Father Son Backpacking trip. Scott and I internally shrugged and decided that we would just try to pinpoint leaders and then deciminate knowledge to them. Or just roll with it and have fun. Maybe a bit of both.
Saturday morning we packed up, I magically saw gear and food disapear into packs. I love backpacking with men, you just hold up something impossibly large or heavy and say, 'Who wants to carry this?' and five sets of hands appear in an offer and desire to prove their strength.
Packs on, adjusted and weighted, we gathered in a circle, I gave the age old 'how to poop in the woods' talk, whle holding a roll of toilet paper. I told them they were lucky to be getting paper, that usually leaves were the method used, or snow. I would be using snow, as the group shivered and shook heads I heard one participant mumble, 'hey if she can do it we can do it.' Indeed. It's brisk, but clean. We prayed and then hiked up into the Mountains of the Damned.