Monday, October 21, 2013

visiting sacramento

Last week I flew to California to visit Sasha, one of my dearest and most beloved friends. The trip was planned on a bit of a whim, a combination of good timing and good fortune and Zach encouraging me to do something fun for myself to help somewhat make up for his absence over the summer. And so, he spent 6 days solo parenting while I got to play and chill out.

Getting there was an ordeal, I think it took around 15-17 hours from door to door each way (to start with, the 3hr bus ride from here to the airport really puts a damper on things). However, after going on so many trips with young kids, any kid-free travel now feels practically luxurious. While sitting in the Vegas airport on my flight west last Saturday night, I made the mistake of tallying up how long I'd been traveling (14hrs at the time) and that's when the wave of exhaustion hit and suddenly all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and go to sleep... even then I felt very aware of how much easier it was to deal with that exhaustion when it's just me vs when I also have two kiddoes who hit that same wall hours ago.
Sasha picked me up from the airport that night and I was beyond tired and planned to just go to sleep, and then of course we opened a bottle of wine and stayed up for several more hours just talking and catching up. And it was wonderful. The wine aside, I felt almost drunk off this new freedom-- being able to just sit and talk with a good friend, not be interrupted, not have to worry about being woken up early in the morning by small hands with big demands. It is a rare treat for me, and I'm always surprised by how indescribably amazing it feels.

The next day, Sunday, S had to work so I was left to my own devices and again I marveled at this newfound freedom. I had most of the day to myself, and I could do whatever I wanted-- I could go walking, or use her car to go somewhere, or I could just sit in bed or on the couch all day doing absolutely nothing. Each of these possibilities was very tempting, but I opted first to go for a walk-- I was in my old neighborhood and it was a gorgeous day and I felt up for a stroll down memory lane.

We lived in Sacramento for two years. I was pregnant with Quinn when we moved there, and he was about 1.5 yrs old when we left to come here to New Hampshire. I visited the playgrounds where we spent so much time, walked by the house where we lived (and where Quinn was born), gazed up at the old trees towering over the old victorians and the streets laid out in their perfect grid that made it so easy to find our way around. So many good memories, and it felt so good to be back in that place and walking those same streets and remembering what it was like to live there.

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And it's kind of strange, really, because the time we spent in Sacramento was two really difficult years in our lives. I felt so overwhelmed with that transition to mothering two children and struggled with what I'm still not sure I would label PPD, but sure felt really, really shitty a lot of the time. Zach was stressed out about work and his career, the never-ending and soul-sucking job search, then switching jobs and traveling all the time. Basically, a lot about life really sucked then. So, why do I feel such positive emotions associated with that time? And I think it's because a) we really loved that neighborhood. We took many walks to our favorite coffee shop, restaurants, and parks, as a family or just Zach and I on occasional moments alone, and we just fell in love with the whole place. And, possibly most important, b) we were surrounded by some really, really amazing people who provided incredible support both emotionally and hands-on. And maybe that's why the positive association is so strong-- because at a time that felt in many ways so dark, I also felt some of the deepest connections I had felt in a long time, with people who made that darkness feel ok.

(and as I write this, I can't help but see parallels between our time in Sac and our time here in NH...)

I finished up my walk by getting an incredibly yummy iced latte from Old Soul, then walking back to Sasha's place. I still had a few hours before she'd be home so I curled up on the couch and watched Becoming Jane (I may not be a big Jane Austen fan but I do love Anne Hathaway). Again, it felt pretty amazing to just sit and watch a movie.
Lazying it up on S's couch

That evening S and I hit up Home Depot and I helped her pick out colors for painting her apartment (never got around to helping with the actual painting, sorry about that...). We spent the next three days shopping (Sacramento has real malls! And TARGET! Oh how I've missed Target...), and eating amazing food, and vegging out watching TV together, and meeting up with other local friends for wine and for tea (on separate occasions).  And it continued to be wonderful and amazing, and by the end of my visit I felt both exhausted and fulfilled.
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So with a last few, big hugs she dropped me off at the airport Wednesday night and I headed off for my red-eye flight back home. Sitting at the gate watching the other parents with their young kids I felt those pangs of missing my own little dudes. And then, the following afternoon, I got off the bus and met up with Zach, D, and Q on the green and when Q saw me his face lit up with the biggest smile and a look of such pure joy as he RAN to me with arms wide open, and I barely held it together. You can't ask for a better homecoming than that. D was also happy to see me, but more reserved (at least for the first few hours, sometime after bathtime I think he forgave me for going on my trip and was willing to give me big hugs and even a few kisses). 

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Needless to say, the trip was amazing and wonderful and oh so good for my soul, and it is also so very good to be back home my little family. 

1 comment:

  1. How lovely! Yes, the friends make the place what it is for you in so many ways. I got teary reading this and thinking of how many poignant moments I got to spend there too with you. I so loved the "neighborhood".



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