Did I blog about this already? I can't remember. I might have mentioned it in passing, but I don't think I said everything I wanted or felt like I needed to say. So I shall do that. Now.
I can't stress the amount of anxiety that had built up in me prior to this trip. It was like a lump of tar had taken over my insides. I was picturing awkward reunions and coming face to face with old demons. I actually had resigned myself to being found on the front porch of our old house on Pemberton lane in a heap of tears, being escorted out by the police. Driving to the Orlando airport, I was less than thrilled.
Upon arrival, and checking in, the great ( I'm saying that with much sarcasm) employees of Spirit airways informed us of a 4 hour delay. MCO (Orlando Intl. Airport) is an awesome airport. And if there's an airport to have a lengthy delay in, I guess I'd pick that one. There are two Disney stores, tons of nice, sit down restaurants (we went to Macaroni Grill) two Universal Studios stores, a Sea World store, and of course your standard bookstores and coffee shops. We were able to kill a few hours pretty easily and without much of a fuss.
Initially our flight was supposed to leave at 4:30 I believe, and our new departure was now 8:30. Around 8:00, we made our way to the gate. Our gate was packed with anxious travelers and I took note that the actual gate itself was missing something very important... a plane. Another thirty minutes passed before it was confirmed that (duhhhh) our plane wasn't there and therefore, our departure time would be pushed back to 9:45.
Inappropriate thoughts flashed through my head and all I can say is thank God I couldn't make my way to a Spirit employee (they were being mobbed by the other angry 200 Detroit bound passengers). I probably would have been banned from the flight all together, had I said what I wanted to say. I'm glad others took care of that for me ;)
I was sure all of this delay and craziness was God's way of saying "TURN BACK. DO NOT GET ON THAT PLANE. GO DIRECTLY BACK TO SAINT AUGUSTINE."
My husband thought differently. And I bitterly found myself buckled in, wedged in between two of my super tired kids, praying for peace.
Once our flight took off, it was relatively good. As good as a flight can be with 3 kids, I guess. Landing in Detroit, felt surprisingly good. I had been thinking a panic attack would overtake me the second the wheels touched Michigan soil. I guess I was too tired and desperate to be done with planes and airports to care.
It was 2 AM by the time we were in our hotel room with a pack and play, ready to finally sleep.
The next morning came easy, and I was excited to eat breakfast and get out of the hotel. Ryan's parents came to pick us up and treated us to a super yummy meal.
And then the drive to Jackson began. It was Ryan, the kids and I in one car, and the McKenney's leading the way in another car. I recognized all the familiar bumps and turns. I thought back to all the nights we had spent in Ann Arbor, barely crawling our way back to our home in Jackson. I shook those memories out as we neared the Jackson exits.
I have no idea what I was expecting. I really don't. Was I planning on this town that I felt has owned me for twenty some years to kick me out for abandoning it? Was I still a local even though I have a Florida drivers license? I have no idea why these thoughts consumed me, but they did.
I actually had my first session that afternoon at Ella Sharp and as I packed up the car with my gear, Ryan jokingly asked, "Still know your way around?"
I had left about an hour early for my session. I needed to get set up and run by CVS, so I allowed myself a lot of extra time. And I'm so glad I did.
I took the back roads from Parma into town. Every street brought different memories. High school, late nights driving home from Ryan's; that one time we went to the self serve car wash on a hot July night at midnight just to spray each other. I smiled as I allowed the good times wash over me. It wasn't until I got to the intersection of Robinson and Michigan Ave that the tears hit. But they hit, and they hit hard. All of me wanted to go straight, continue on to Ella Sharp. But the tormented side of me wanted to turn right. Pretend like I was driving home. And because I like to torture myself I did turn right. And I did drive the familiar path home. And in a very creeper like manor I did the slow neighborhood crawl, taking note of all that had changed- and all that hadn't. I waved to neighbors who had no clue who I was and my heart raced as I turned the corner. There it was. The house we built. The house we poured everything into. The house I brought 2 of my babies home to. The house that we jokingly referred to as the mobile home of the neighborhood, as it was by far, the smallest. The house that was ours. The house that was taken from underneath our feet like the material asset it was, instead of the safe haven and home we had made it.
Surprisingly, there was no part of me that wanted to get out, throw myself on the lawn and cause a disturbing scene straight out of a "Cops" episode. Instead, I drove by, wiped my tears and continued on the neighborhood loop until I was back where I started, making the decision to turn right or left onto Robinson road. And that was that.
It was bitter. It was sweet. And it was so needed. I had to prove to myself that I didn't need to be there. That the stormy blue sided house, wasn't our home and didn't need me. And I didn't need it. The year went on with out us inhabiting it and there it still stood. And I guess it was at that moment that I FINALLY, finally realized, all this time it was simply a shell. Wood beams and boards, framed together, covered in plaster and paint to provide shelter. Full of family, warmth and love a short year ago, but now just an empty shell. A shell that will soon be turned into someone else's home. And that warmth, family and love? That's here. It's not in that shell. It's here in Florida, in the scribbled drawings covering our fridge. It's in the finger printed sliding glass door. Its multiplied by 3, with my supervising, guitar playing husband in the bathtub where laughter is finding its way down the hallway and to my ears. It's where I sit on our over-used bed set, windows open and shells lining the dresser, typing my heart out.
Yes, that house in Michigan still stands. Yes, it holds memories, and it always will. But everything that made it into the sweet thing it was to us, is here. And I'm not sure why it took a year and a strange neighborhood creep crawl to figure that out.
Along with facing our house, there were quite a few bridges that had been burned and/or in flames. Spiritually, in Michigan I was lacking. I was stuck in a vortex of negative thinking, bad moods and a debilitating depression, all of which are my own demons that have nothing to do with the state of Michigan itself. I continue to battle them to a certain extent. To say that I'm "together" now would be a monumental lie- I'm certainly not. But I've stepped it up a bit, reaching to the ONE who can and has changed my heart. I began to take accountability for things I've said and done. This meant reaching out to a few people, swallowing my fear and pride, apologizing and moving on. And I cannot tell you the good that has come out of this. Not only do I feel like a 50,000 ton weight has been lifted off, but real, substantial relationships and conversations have been made. Bridges that were once ashes have new framing, ready to be built upon.
It's amazing what God can do when you hand over your hardened heart to be shaped and molded by Him.
To sum this post up, the trip to Michigan has left me feeling like my life up there has been officially cleaned and closed. I am able to peacefully tuck away the chapters of Michigan. I'm ready to move on. Throwing out the "shoulda, coulda, would'ves" and replacing them with a little bit of "livin' and learnin'" wisdom.
Don't read me wrong, I'm not wiser than anyone for moving. I don't have any great insights or answers that others lack. I would probably stink at giving advice to someone else. I just feel like the storm that's been swirling within me is something I can finally begin to reckon with.
And it feels really good.
Thank you to everyone who made the time to see my family and I in Michigan. We are sincerely looking forward to our trip next summer.
And my fave. photo of June for The Paper Mama's photo challenge:
It's super simple. But lovely... to me :) Maeve (my 4 year old) was plucking petals, one by one, chanting the familiar "he loves me, he loves me not" rhyme. She heard it from "The Little Mermaid" and ever since, each flower she picks is doomed to be plucked petal-less. Very cute though. :)