Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Know What I Did This Summer? (It's like last year, only more.)

You're probably thinking I got the title wrong, since there was a famous movie called I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. It was based on the book by Lois Duncan, who I've known since I was about 12 years old. Lois has always been a big influence on me, so I want to give her a shout-out. She's still writing books and movie screenplays, and she's won more awards than I can mention. Check out her website for details.

But I digress. What I did LAST summer was renovate, clear out, pack and move from the house we lived in for almost 20 years in Cincinnati. Marty and I moved to Chicago last fall, where we are enjoying our compact condo overlooking Lake Michigan. The biggest change wasn't our downsizing, though, it was the arrival of our first grandbaby last August. I started babysitting for her when her mom went back to work last October. I can hardly believe she'll celebrate her first birthday in a few weeks!

Traditionally, summer is a time for basking in the sun and relaxing. As I kid, I would plop down in the grass with a book and not come up for air until I'd read the last page. Last summer was anything BUT relaxing. This summer is even crazier. A year ago, if anyone told me all I'd be doing this summer, I would have said they were nuts. It's not really what "I" am doing this time - it's what my kids are doing.

On a Top Ten list of Most Stressful Life Events, moving house is ranked number three. Exams are ranked number five and planning a wedding number six. My son is doing all three of those things this summer. Their condo is a little cramped right now, with two adults, a baby, two teenage boys and a dog all sharing a one bedroom with sitting room. The new place, just a few blocks away, is much bigger. While going through the stress of buying a new place, my soon-to-be daughter-in-law just started a new job and my son just finished exams - he's working toward his Ph.D. On top of that, they're planning their wedding, which will take place in a few short weeks, clear across the country. No stress! 

My daughter is also moving. After almost nine years in Orlando, Florida, she's moving to Chicago to be closer to her gazillion relatives, primarily her almost one-year-old niece. She's moving with three cats, just to make things more interesting. She's moving into my son's current condo, so the timing is going to be tricky. She and the cats will stay at our place until her furniture arrives - hopefully my cranky, elderly cat will coexist with them peacefully for a few days. My daughter is cleaning and clearing out her place, saying good-bye to friends and a job she still likes and worrying about how her cats will adapt to the move. She's also applying for jobs online - since her brother is her new landlord, she wants to find work quickly. No stress there!

Sammy and Mouse, in their younger days

Charlie, chillin'
I'm going down to Orlando to help my daughter pack. The movers are taking care of most of it, but we're packing her books, her clothes and her shoes, purses and collector's dolls. I arrive Thursday afternoon. The movers are coming at 8 a.m. Friday morning. We have to get the packing done before they arrive. No stress!

Oddly enough, I've moved so many times I'm really NOT that stressed about the moves, just the timing. Marty and I have moved more times than I can count, including twice across the ocean (once each direction for me, twice from England to America for him). We've moved from Chicago to New Jersey and back, and from Chicago to Cincinnati and back. 

Living in Cincinnati almost 20 years didn't mean we were exempt from moving during those years. During that time, our daughter moved in and out of three dorms in Athens, Ohio before moving to Orlando. My son moved to one dorm and several apartments (I remember three, but there might have been more) in Chicago while he was an undergrad. 

Looking back, it seems like we've done nothing but pack and unpack for most of our lives. We've been lucky - these moves were by choice. Even the places we weren't crazy about weren't truly awful. 

As crazy as this summer is - and we've only just dipped our toes into Crazy Lake at this point - these are positive moves, positive changes. By, say, mid-October, we'll be settling into our new routine. I hope.

We'll look back on this summer and only remember the highlights - the wedding, the baby's first birthday, the excitement of Auntie Jessica moving into our building. I'm not a fan of winter, but Christmas will be fun this year, with both of my kids living in the same state for the first time in nearly a decade. 

My writing is taking a back seat right now, but I'm not entirely neglecting it. I'm working with a lovely author friend, who is helping me improve one story, and I've hired a freelance editor to help me salvage a story that's been roundly rejected in its present state. I'm excited to be writing again, but I don't regret the time spent with my grandbaby. She won't be little for long, and I don't want to miss a minute!

This post is like my life right now - kind of rambling and all over the place. I can't believe I haven't posted since April. Don't be too surprised if the leaves are falling when my next post appears. I strive to keep up with my blogs, but sometimes life happens. I'm trying to make this my motto - wish me luck!


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