Sitting on a thrift store couch

I’ve run this route out our front door down Spanish Valley Road¬†about six times.

I’ve been waking with the day, around 5:45, to pull on my shorts and my shoes and head out. I sleepily slide the iPod on and earbuds in and step out onto the peeling wooden porch. This morning, I tried listening to something different, something old, something I used to love. But Ben Kweller sounded like nothing but noise today, an irritation more than a distraction. I turned it off and went back to the playlist I’ve listened to on every solo morning run since I’ve been here.

There’s something to be said for familiarity.

We are here in this desert, and it’s beautiful. The sunshine is brighter, the air is crisper and more than anything else the landscape is spectacular. I run toward the Manti La Sals to the south. I have this idea that if I could just keep going, I’d reach them. Someday, of course, I would, but I’m training for a half, not a full, and today isn’t the day.

To the west is what I think is called the Moab Rim, which reminds me of the Bookcliffs back in Grand Junction, those searing, ridged rocks that dare you to tackle their steep rise. I climbed them once, one foot in front of the other up that steep, narrow spine. I was 23 and had no idea who I was or what I wanted. My son, my grown-up, sensitive little boy, wants to climb Moab’s version. I looked at them as we drove past, on our way to school, and had no idea where we’d even begin, if there was a trail or if we’d have to make our own or if we’d be foolish to even try that hike.

“Sure, we can, babe,” I said.

And somehow, because he wants to, we’ll figure out how to try.

To the east along the road I run is a Navajo sandstone wall, bubbly with texture. I pass horses and cows and a hodgepodge of modular homes and “ranchettes” with pickup trucks and dogs tied up in front yards.

And those La Sals loom in the background.

One of my favorite things here is the time of day when the light changes, the way the light illuminates only the tops of all these geographic wonders, in the early morning as the sun rises and in the evening, as the sun sets.

We sure don’t have views like this back home.

As I ran today, I thought about that word. Both my husband and I have referred to Omaha as home. I wonder how long we’ll say that.

I’ve been wondering when home starts to feel like where you are, instead of where you were.

How does that transition happen and can we speed it along?

What is the trick to adjusting to a new space with people you don’t know, streets you don’t recognize, routines you don’t have?

I like Moab – for the unparalleled beauty, for the desert heat, for the dry air, for the blonde horse at the house next door, for how much my husband feels connected to this land.

But it doesn’t, yet, feel like home. In the quiet space of my mind, where my truth teller sings, I miss so much about “home.” Not so much the place but the people and the routine.

My son’s former teacher e-mailed a few days ago. Many of the kids have been saying how much they miss Rye, she wrote. I had to turn my attention to something else – to stop from crying right there at my desk in my big, lonely office.

Yet, when I dropped him off at school two days ago, his new school, I smiled as I drove away because he was walking in with a friend. They were talking, and my little boy was smiling.

Change has never been easy. I can be the bravest woman in the world, game face permanently on, and still not be comfortable with everything that’s new. Even if I’m comfortable, I can still be skeptical.

Even if I’m happy (I am), even if I finally have the love I’ve always wanted (I do), even if my beautiful family is always there at the end of every day (they are), I still have that space in my heart that misses home. I miss my friends and my family.

And I long for the day – hopefully not too far off – when I feel peace here. When I feel like I’m home, not just the sense of home I already feel with my husband, but the bigger sense of the word – the all-encompassing, this-is-where-you-belong peace.

Have a great weekend, friends. Check out Ben Gibbard:

“You Remind Me of Home”¬†

Where the happily ever after begins

So sometimes that dark cloud just disappears.

You know the one? That low-lying thunder cloud that for so long just seemed to hang around, out there on your horizon, dirtying up the view?

That one that even when it gave way to the sun every now and then always came back. Same spot. Just sort of there, in the way of all that sun, all those rainbows, all that everything else.

Well. It’s gone.

Maybe I just had to wait long enough. Maybe I had to try hard enough. Maybe I simply had to let my life unfold as it should.

Either way.

That cloud’s been replaced.

I got a job.

A really exciting job in a really amazing place doing what I want to be doing: Writing, editing, managing. I start in two weeks.

Much more important than that, though: I’m getting married. This weekend. To the most wonderful man I’ve ever met.

To my best friend, my best time, my true love, my rock, my world.

I am so happy. As my sister said online today, life is good.

Finally!

With the rainbow at the end

I dreamed about my wedding last night.

It wasn’t anything like what we have planned.

We stood holding hands, waiting for the ceremony to begin, on the steps of a church, our backs to the entrance. It was chilly outside and I stood as close as I could to the man I was about to marry. There were people all around us and we were waiting for when we were to walk ahead to whatever outdoor space we’d picked.

Despite all those people – many of whom I didn’t seem to know – I remember feeling completely focused on Kyle, and he on me. We were happy, smiling. We kissed while we waited.

Out of the crowd, my ex-mother-in-law emerged. She was dressed up and holding an umbrella. She offered a quick congratulations, handed me a gift and then disappeared. The gift was unlike anything I’ve ever seen: a beige handkerchief tied to a twig. It resembled a tiny flag. I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

That’s when I noticed my clothes.

“I’m not wearing my dress!” I said and laughed. Kyle smiled and said he didn’t care.

Still, we went inside, up the church steps and into a hotel room (I didn’t say this dream made logical sense). There, I tried on a pink chiffon dress I can still picture. It wasn’t unlike the dress Rachel McAdams wears in “The Vow.” It was beautiful, but I didn’t like it.

There were other people in this room with us, too, including my high school boyfriend. It seemed everyone was focused on us, but all I could see was Kyle. It was as if we were in the center of a kaleidoscope, all the pieces around us moving, spinning, but we were still, completely grounded, in the middle of it all.

I remembered finally that I had a dress for the wedding – the one I actually do have – and I put that on.

And we kissed again and we were married.

Just like that. Happily ever after, without any worries at all.

It was such a good dream.

Today is Feb. 28. Our wedding date is April 7 (though if I get this far-away job I’m still waiting to hear about, we’ll get married sooner). Either way, five weeks from this Saturday, we’ll be on our way to the next chapter.

I can’t wait.

There was a time during and following my divorce when I couldn’t understand why anyone would get married. My parents are divorced, and so many people I knew then didn’t seem happy with their lives.

But then something changed.

I met this man.

And when I did, it was like the clouds just cleared. The path was straight ahead. I could instantly see what marriage could be, what true love meant, what a family could be like, the value in taking care of someone because you want to, because you love him so much.

This is the path with the rainbow at the end, the trail with the hope just around the bend.

This road is the one I get to travel with him, hand in hand.

Forever never felt this happy, this full of hope.

***

One night, early on, Kyle asked if I liked Ryan Adams.

I hadn’t ever really listened to him, I admitted.

“What?” he said. “Oh, babe, you’re gonna love him.”

And I did. I do.

This song is one of the first we listened to, on my computer, thanks to YouTube. It will always remind me of the simple beauty of those early days, and of the promise of everything ahead.

“In My Time of Need” – Ryan Adams

Giving it all a go

My back is burning and I’m eating graham crackers, the snack that always makes me feel like a kid.

The rockstar is asleep on the couch, fighting a cold or a fever or allergies or exhaustion or some combination of all of the above.

The little boy is playing Legos and the little girl is out and about.

I’m sitting here, by the fire, cat purring by my leg, trying to think of something to say.

Wondering if I want to have anything to say.

I do, of course, have things to say and like it that way. But what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few weeks is whether I want to continue to share everything. Here or on Facebook or in any other virtual space.

I’ve been feeling like maybe not being quite so … open. Maybe not being quite so quick to write about the bad stuff that happens to good people, or the good stuff that happens to good people.

Or any of it.

I’ve been realizing maybe it’s not anyone else’s business.

But I don’t want to give this up (though I’ve considered it). I have such appreciation for those of you who support me and my family and my choices and check in every now and then at this little blog.

I love writing, the power of words and stories and the difference sharing our lives can make.

It’s incredible. Really.

I don’t want to lose the connection I have with so many of you.

But I don’t want to feel judged. I don’t want to be judged. I just wanted to do this little thing and live and laugh and learn and grow and let this just be what it was: a blog.

So the past couple weeks I’ve been up in my head, exploring my heart. Just trying to figure this all out.

(Yes, I know, universe, that will be a constant in this life.)

I’m writing now, my back to the fire, the cat purring, the rest of the house quiet. I’m giving it a go. I’m seeing where this post takes me.

I’m thinking once we move out of here, if I’m fortunate enough to get a job some place nice, I’ll keep our new locale to myself. I’ll set about making a home for my family, making sure my husband is happy, my kids are healthy, that my home feels like home.

Our home.

The thought alone makes me smile.

There, we’ll finally start the next chapter, with love.

This love story

The first time I fell in love I was 4 years old and obsessed.

The object of my affection had curly red hair, a voice that could win over even a stodgy bald rich guy and the awesomest, spunkiest, don’t-ever-give-up attitude ever.

She had the sweetest friend, Molly, a locket I coveted and a story that tugged at my little-girl heartstrings.

Her name was Annie and she taught us all, way back then, that even on the worst days, the sun comes out tomorrow.

My love affairs moved on, over the years, to include such characters as the Scarecrow from the “Wizard of Oz,” Charles Ingalls from “Little House on the Prairie” and Kevin Arnold from “The Wonder Years.”

And then there was that boy band in the late 80s/early 90s. I might have had a little thing for them.

Real-life love stories are a lot different than celebrity crushes, of course. We all learn this (the hard way?) growing up. Middle-school, anyone?

My real-life love story, has several chapters.

Though my book is far from finished, I’m on the last chapter. It’s going to be a long one, so settle in.

Being with the man I know I was always supposed to find is the perfect ending to my love story that’s just beginning.

Our love story that’s just beginning. (!!!)

So the final time I fell in love I was 30-something years old and head over heels.

There is a sense of peace about our lives now that I’m not sure I ever remember feeling.

I like it.

And I’m grateful. So thankful.

How lucky we are.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my love, my babies and everyone else. Here’s to new beginnings and final chapters!

Hope and beauty and the rest of our lives

I woke up with the little girl earlier than I ever want to be awake.

It was still dark and she had to go potty. So we stumbled into the hallway and to the bathroom where I helped her slip her arms out of her feet jammies. My eyes were half open.

She finished, we pulled her jammies back on and headed back into the hallway.

I opened my eyes.

The sun was rising, see, and it was the prettiest orange glow of day beginning I’ve seen in a very long time.

Out the big windows in the family room, the sky shone an intense, rich hue of orange, out on the horizon. The forest-like backyard and the bluffs further back were dark against the bright color, silhouettes waking up in the shadow of the day to come.

It was beautiful.

And I thought to myself: I almost missed this.

And I wondered: How many other moments of beauty do we miss all the time? Because we’re asleep, or because we’re rushing to meet the demands of the day (kids fed, dressed, cleaned and to school on time, our own selves ready for work or other commitments, our houses cleaned, our yards cared for, our pets played with, our friends and family paid attention to, dinner made, dishes done, laundry folded … new blog posts written …). Or because we just don’t pay attention.

The fiance and I were running yesterday and we saw deer – a whole family of deer, running, galloping across a small field of snow. The way they bounded, so graceful, right there in basically the middle of town, well, I felt lucky to see it. Even though they were just deer and even though they were doing nothing but running, to me, at least on that day, it was beautiful.

And right now, the little girl is eating oranges and dancing. I call it dancing, though sometimes it’s more like jumping, sometimes it’s more galloping, her long blonde hair flying up behind her, her eyes big and smiling.

She is so carefree. So precocious. So beautiful.

***

I’m reluctant to write about job prospects here because it seems when I do, I somehow jinx myself. That said, I have a second interview today for a job I really want.

It’s far away.

But we want it to happen.

If it happens, we’d pack up our stuff and go, next month. We’d get in our cars and drive and we’d start a new life, the first chapter of the rest of our lives together, as a family.

The thought of this sort of new beginning almost makes me cry.

All that opportunity, all that potential, all that power to make this life whatever we want it to be … whew. It’s wonderful and scary and plain old real and exciting all at the same time.

Here’s hoping.

***

Finally, this came out a couple weeks ago, and I realized today I haven’t posted it here yet.

The fiance in a hot air balloon, singing a new song he wrote (video thanks to Love Drunk):

“When to Let Go” – Kyle Harvey

It’s true

Being homeless isn’t so bad.

We’re not really homeless, of course. We’re living with family. We have our own space. We have really nice people surrounding us.

It sort of feels like home.

It’s been a week since we moved out of the pretty yellow house in Dundee. Leaving was hard. I haven’t cried as hard as I did pulling out of the driveway for the last time in quite a while.

But you know what? Now? I don’t really miss it.

Life is funny like that.

It feels good being done with that chapter actually. It feels good not having to worry about the monthly mortgage payment or the utilities or how to make the grass look green again come summer or what to do if the furnace goes out or shoveling that long driveway or changing the battery in the fire alarm so it will shut up or … any of those things that come with being a homeowner.

I do hope we have a home again someday, though. One we pick out together. One where maybe we can stay a while, maybe a long time. I like that idea.

One of the last things I packed up was a small framed picture that hung in my bathroom. It’s an abstract drawing of two people in bright colors. Beneath them, it says: “They came to sit and dangle their feet off the edge of the world. And after awhile, they forgot everything but the good and true things they would do someday.”

I’ve loved this for a long time.

To me, this message is hope of a better tomorrow, of the power of dreams, of the beauty of being together. It’s a message of simplicity. It reminds me to slow down and remember what’s important, what’s possible. What’s true.

It’s in our new, borrowed bathroom now. And it fits just fine here, too. In our new, borrowed home.

***

On Christmas Eve, right after he proposed, my fiance gave me a couple records (“There’s more?!” I said). One was Ray LaMontagne. If you haven’t heard him, go and listen.

Start with this song:

“Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne