Change and Phantom Limbs

I was listening to a story on NPR about a veteran who was injured in Iraq. He no longer has feet and was talking about the pain.

"I still have phantom feeling in my feet and every feeling feels like they're being crushed all over again."

Does the healing process included all sorts of feelings, not just crushing ones, but others like feeling sand and grass and heating up cold toes and fuzzy socks? I wanted him to answer these questions but NPR just changed the subject to the fiscal cliff.

But it stuck with me. And like everything that sticks, I apply it to my stickiness. Can phantom feeling happen everywhere? Like in your brain when you miss something? Is that why my stomach hurt real bad when I told my dad I was leaving?

In the past week, my life has changed drastically. I thought I knew what was going to happen, well, loosely, for the next year. We will find a house in the summer, I will move up to resource room teacher next year, filling a retirement spot, and Paul will find a conservation job with his brand new degree. We would cook together, grocery shop, ride our bikes around Toledo, youknow, just be married and awesome.

And while most of that will actually happen, it's not going to happen in Toledo.

We're moving to Tahoe in June.

I know. Say whaaaat?

It was a strange Sunday night last week filled with some heavy talk. It started with a casual conversation over a leisurely house search on our iPad that ended with a different zip code search. And like every big decision that I've ever truly, finally made, it felt absolutely right. We don't have a mortgage. We don't have children. We have amazing friends out there that have volunteered to help us find a place. There are jobs. There are mountains. There is a lake and a library and people are nice to others on bikes. I made a list in my head and came up with nothing but reasons why instead of instantly thinking about what will go wrong.

Well, sort of.

It's only been a week and I've filled up 7 pages in my journal with questions, to-do lists, things to sell, California and Nevada teaching license check lists, services to find (I will need guinea pig pellets!). I'm looking at apartments that I know won't be available when we get there, Google mapping out the ETA between cities, estimating 40 different routes and their accompanying gas mileage, averages of gas prices, and whenever I put something away, a dish, an article of clothing, I think, "Should I take this or get rid of it?"

I know what I'm doing. I am avoiding all the hard stuff.

When I told my dad, he looked shocked. Then he got really quiet. I just kept saying, "I don't want you to be sad. I don't want to make you sad." And he just replied, "Of course I'm sad." We had dinner with Paul's family for his birthday and when we told his younger niece, 5 1/2, she didn't say anything. Just stared at us with her mouth opened. Her 8 year old sister had to explain to her where California was, and then just filled the empty air with a lot of facts, like the size in comparison to other states, the climate. It was hard. This is why people don't leave. It's hard to leave those faces.

I have been notoriously bad at any sort of change. Even the weather affects me too much. Good change, bad change: it doesn't matter. It's annoying. It feels like wearing wet socks for weeks.

I had a really great therapy session about it. My therapist said, "You're sucking all the fun out of it with all your planning" which, to be fair, was right after I told her about my almost-made travel binder. She told me to not miss this opportunity to say goodbye.

I know. But goodbye sucks. It has always sucked. I have always dreaded the word, the meaning, the whole process with which to say goodbye. You say goodbye to things that may never come back or that you'll never see. There is so much unknown after goodbye. You release your control over that and the rest is unsettled. It's terrible.

But what's the alternative? Not going? Not an option anymore. I feel like I've already moved and we're just visiting Toledo for a few months. We are on assignment to love the crap out of this city and its people before we go. And I'm trying really hard to think that way instead of thinking about how I want it to be June tomorrow.

So. Let us make a list of pizzas and hotdogs and activities and coffee dates and lunches and shopping in a final Toledo crawl; otherwise, I'm going to kick myself for not. And like what I think phantom feeling may be when applied to my brain, it is probably going to be sad when I really want a Rudy's hotdog on a sunday night or matzoh ball soup from Barry's when i'm not feeling good. I'm going to want to go to dinner with my dad when I had a really bad day at work or go to Bretz when I need to dig out the feeling of blue. But maybe instead I can think about how happy I was when I got to do those things and find something new.  And there will be so much Paul. Full time. I can't wait to get sick of him again.

No goodbyes, just support, congratulations, questions, happy things. I can't handle goodbyes. Let's just say I will smile when I feel you in my phantom memories. All the good things. And then come visit and we can go dancing in the mountains.