I know they say you can’t go home again             
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine

I was just a few months old when my parents moved to Germany.  I remember a brief visit back to the States when I was 3?  4?  Fleeting images of staying on the second house on my grandparent's farm.  Chasing my cousin Kara through the hay fields of my other grandparents' farm.  Eating strawberries from the garden.  I don't think we went back to the States until I was 9.  I'm a military kid.  We moved.  All of us moved.  Every peer I had moved.  Every friend I had moved and I moved away from every friend.  We switched houses.  Jobs.  Neighborhoods.  Schools.  Day care centers.  Sledding hills.  Bike riding paths.  It all changed.  Every two years, it was a new set of everything.

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

England once.  Texas once.  The Philippines once.  Germany twice.  The only friend I kept in touch  with from my childhood is because of Facebook, of all things.  I'd look for my other childhood friends, but I don't remember their last names.  I barely remember their faces.  I remember some things about each place we lived, but I don't know what it's like to know the place where you live.  Every nook, every cranny, your neighborhood ... I don't get it.  So I continue to move.  Graduate undergrad school and get married?  Move to the Vineyard town.  No big deal.  I missed the former friends, but I had lived in one place for an astonishing 8 years.   Past time to move on.  Bad divorce, time for graduate school?  Move to Portland.  The healing came from somewhere else than home.

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

I don't know where my father lives.  Nevada, I hear, but anything after that's a mystery.  My mom and step-dad live in Central Oregon, in a town I think is charming, but also a town I visit rarely and have no real ties to.  When it gets bad, I don't go home.  What's home?  Sometimes I wonder, sure, what it would be like to be from somewhere.  But I'm not from somewhere.  When people ask me where I'm from, I name the last place I live.  Right now?  I moved from the Vineyard town two years ago.  What built me?  The process of moving built me.  The absence of home built me.  I'm doing ok, by the way.  Built a little differently, maybe.

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
Nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

But Shoes is from somewhere.  Shoes was born in a town nearby to where his parents lived in rural Eastern Washington because the town they lived in didn't have a hospital at the time.  He's known his oldest friends since the 1st grade.  They grew up together.  Went to high school together.  Went to college together in that same town ... and were roommates while attending college.  I don't think they know it yet, but Shoes will be asking them to be groomsmen in the wedding.  We drive around and Shoes says, "This is where we ...."  and "Chris and I rafted down this drainage ditch in January" and "I went to elementary school here and it's where I got burned by the firecracker" and "Alex's parents owned this McDonalds" and "before there were those 5 subdivisions behind my parents house, it was just wheat fields rolling out into forever."  It's like a foreign language.  It is the mighty Palouse, and the might Palouse is having a love affair with Shoes.  I have a feeling we'll move there ... one day ... at some point.  I hope I'm ready at that point, but there's a piece of me that doesn't know if I can do it.  You just stay in one place?  What if you don't like it?  What if you feel stifled?  What if the PTA hates you?  What if I can't find a big enough client base to build my counseling practice?  What if I get snowed in for a month?

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

But then again, maybe it's time to create a place to return back to time after time.  Maybe it's time to create an epicenter pin on my map.  Maybe, at 33, it's time for me to be open to creating space that's for settling down, digging deep and growing some roots.  Maybe there's a fulfillment there I'm missing.  Maybe there's a part of me I don't know yet exists.

Maybe I won't know until it happens.

Maybe Shoes is worth all of those questions.

Maybe that's definitely true.  Like I said before, I take the chance because I trust the person.

(Miranda Lambert, The House That Built Me, 2010).
of school tomorrow ... at least for this go round.  i haven't necessarily ruled out a Ph.D., but that, dear hearts, is a journey in and of itself.  i haven't started this school year yet, and i know, because i often rule my personal life with clarity, that i love it already.

and i will love being done.

next june will be the culmination of three years of some of my best social work work so far.  i can say with confidence i've put my whole heart and entire being into this masters degree.  but  it is just the best social work so far.  i can't even imagine the amazing things to come once i step back into the field.  i can't wait to add to my ten years of bachelor's level experience.

my school bag is ready.
my alarm clock is set.
i have my first training at my internship tomorrow (while last year was a journey into geriatric psychotherapy, this year marks a journey back into the world and hearts of children and their families).
my first class (social work with children, adolescents and families) tomorrow evening.
i may not sleep tonight.  (i get that worked up.)

it was a good, long last weekend of summer.  shoes and i successfully booked our first choice of a wedding venue -- one that we are entirely thrilled about (even shoes, even though he tries not to be).  we have a date.  the moms and i will be looking for a dress at the end of october.  the attendant list has almost been fully confirmed ... just a few more people to talk to.  my dear friend molly offered the use of her own wedding arch, and molly and i are both so, so stoked that we will both have been married under it.  much to do in the upcoming year.

it does my soul well to know shoes and i are getting married in his hometown.  maybe because i do not have a hometown.   we'll make that the topic of the next post.  hometown.  roots.  where we come from and where we're going.  for now, here's (yet another blurry one due to my amazingly slow shutter release) a picture of me in shoes' hometown.  the gorgeous wheat?  very much a part of the scenery of the venue.

makes me excited all over again.

and why not tonight?  we're all adults.  all ready for this.

seven years ago today, (September 18th, 2004) i got married.  married.  i don't even know how many people we invited, but it was a ton.  all of our family.  both of my work offices.  his education cohort at the university.  our entire church. my friends from undergraduate school. i had a stunning white gown; he looked dashing in his very formal, traditional tuxedo.  we were jubilant and ready and in love and we laughed and loved and our church came together to put it all together.  we had the happiest of ceremonies - performed with abandon and enthusiasm.

people would tell me later they had never been to a wedding that was so ... happy.

as young marrieds, we were in charge of 1st through 6th grade children's ministries.  we lead a church mission to Mexico.  we moved to the vineyard town so he could take his first job teaching english as a second language to elementary school children.

he was young and vibrant and impulsively impish.  the life of the party -- the one you could count on to be just a little bit naughty.  or a lot naughty.  you just never knew what that crazy boy was going to do next.

maybe that is why three years after we married, we were divorced.  that quick impulsiveness never went away, but morphed into something terribly and horribly heart breaking.  no thinking about consequences.  living for the here and now.  wrecked a marriage.  maybe two, but i couldn't keep track of the other marriage for too long for fear that doing so would stir up a sense of revenge within me.  it wrecked my faith in jesus for a long time.  (i remember clearly the moment when i felt i could start walking back to jesus.  it was when my counselor asked me what i thought god thought about my divorce and i blurted out, without thinking, immediately, "god HATES divorce!  and i did it anyway!" and promptly started sobbing. [nevermind that i had a biblical out.  nevermind i had consulted two pastors and my closest, most reliable friends.]  my counselor handed me the tissue box and said quietly, "god doesn't hate divorce in the context that you did something bad and you will now be punished.  god hates the effects of divorce on his children; he hates to see you hurt like this.  you didn't do anything wrong.  you're not being punished." oh, how i wish i could tell that to all of the darling daughters who are in that same spot. something really very ugly broke off of me at that point, and i was able to start standing up to people who looked down on me and said, "love hurts.  you have to love through the hurt.")

seven years later, on september 18th, i am planning a new wedding.  a new marriage.  a new life.

it's more than a bit scary.

i know now, really know, really, really know, what marriage is like.  i know how hard it is.   i know the exact, unmistakable, ear splitting sound of a heart breaking when marriage doesn't work out.  (such the understated euphemism "doesn't work out" is).  it is a risk.  it didn't feel like a risk seven years ago.  it feels like a risk right now.

and i know how amazing it is when it really works out.  when you have a partner you adore.  when you have a partner who is your true ... partner.  at its best, marriage is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts in the world.

i tell shoes all the time that i do not think i would be doing this again if it wasn't him i was marrying.  i don't want just another marriage.  married just for the sake of being married?  no thank you.  i certainly don't want just another wedding.

it's shoes.  i want shoes in my daily life.  i want to come home and talk about work with him and walk the dog with him and adopt children with him.  i want him to forever poke gentle fun at the way i worry incessantly.  i want to forever turn around and see him standing there calmly.  i want to forever hear him chuckling the chuckle he has when he thinks he's being a little bit evil.

and so, ironically, i think i have something to thank my first husband for after all ... seven years after the wedding date and four years after the divorce. if he and i hadn't shared at least some genuine love, at some point, i think i would write marriage as an institution off ... forever.  but i remember some good times.  i remember that the experience of marriage can be amazing.  and that, in conjunction with same amazing healing from a good god, and the man that shoes is, has lead to some serious hope and possibility.

shoes know this.  he knows this because i've told him.  save nothing else, it's what i want him to know in the midst of all the wedding crazy.  i'm in it because he's in it.  and i'm all in. despite the risk.

it feels right to finally be able to say that.  funny, the places you find yourself getting to seven years later.
complete with hugs and catching up with all of the old social welfare / criminal justice crowd ... a judge officiant who showed up exactly 30 minutes late and ate a little bit of humble pie ... he always threatens to fine those who are late to his courtroom ... and none of us have ever been late to his courtroom ... 

and they are a lovely couple.  all of us were juvenile detention officers at one point.  it's where they met.  it's where Shoes and i met.  who would have known?

blurry picture ... (very slow shutter release on the camera) ... but here we are.  i do hate being the tallest girl because it truly does make me look bigger in every sense of the word (the PROOF is in the PICTURES) :-)... i left detention to run the guardian ad litem program ... the bride left detention to work at the local domestic violence victim's shelter ... and tiff (my roommate from the Vineyard Town) is still holding it down in detention...

and the baby tiff had while we were living together?  no longer a baby, but a boisterous, mischievous, live wire  2 and a half year old.

... who ate about a pound and a half of wedding favor m&m's, but we love her anyway.

happy wedding, happy weekend.
I am on my way out the door to the Vineyard town for the most lovely backyard wedding of the best kind.  For the next day or two, I will think only about snuggling in next to Shoes, drinking red wine, staying cool in the Eastern Washington heat and laughing with old friends.

I will not think about the fact that I have two days left at Research Administration in which I have to put together a meeting for Research's heaviest of heavy hitters (30 emails later and we're into late October / early November).

I will not think about the fact that a new Psychiatry mandatory bi monthly meeting has been added to my schedule that I have to work in.  Somehow.

I will not think about the fact that the university's classified employees have a very high likelihood of striking the first week of classes ... and that going to class will be considered crossing the picket line ... and that some have suggested that going to field placement will also be crossing the picket line ... I will not think about the implications this has for graduation / financial aid / me and Shoe's ultimate plan and I will try not to think about how, at the same time, they have the absolute right to strike for their rights.

I will not think about the fact that Shoes and I are struggling (but not arguing) to get our wedding guest list down to 150.  Some brutal, brutal cuts are being made.  Shoes has asked me not to think about the wedding until after I am at least done with Research Administration (next Thursday) and only have one job (Psychiatry) to worry about.  But we meet with the wedding venue on the 23rd, so time is tight ... but again, I'm not worrying about it this weekend.

Right now I'm choosing to be grateful.  That I have a Shoes to go to.  That I have a wedding of the most epic proportions to celebrate.  That my problem is I have two jobs.  That I'm almost done with graduate school (oh please, oh please, oh please let my grad. date stay intact ...).

Pictures of the K. Wedding to come ... this is the best, most fun group ... you never know what's going to happen when the social workers, police, prosecuting attorneys, probation officers get together ... outside of multi-disciplinary meetings ... (but some of you know all too well) ...
Or something.

I don't mean to be melodramatic, but this man is back, this time riding the bus late, late at night after I get off my late shift in Psychiatry up at the hospital.  What's he doing there so late?  Riding the Line 8 around in the middle of the night, nowhere to go, nobody to visit with (except the folks in the ER and the friendly Vet Guards at the V.A.).  Seeing him makes me cranky, but only in the sense that I know things aren't getting any better for him

Only in the sense that I want more than anything for things to be better for him.

It's not the first time time we've been re-introduced, and he has no idea who I am any time we meet (which doesn't deter him from sitting next to me every time [not that I mind]).  His eyes are fully jaundiced (is that the correct medical way to describe that?), he smells fully pickled, sometimes he makes sense and sometimes it's word salad.

It's getting worse, whatever he has ... the alcoholism, depression, I don't know.  I'm not his doctor; not his counselor.  He brightens when we talk and I guess that's enough.  I think he's slowly dying, in the way that untreated, getting older alcoholics always feel like they're dying.  This is not the light-hearted bus humor I usually like to share.

It's just the other thing that happens to me, with regularity, on Public Transit.   I hope he still has his apartment, hope he still has his case manager and I still hope (against hope) that something Super Big happens and he makes it.

Really makes it.

And I hope I continue to ask about his well-being with sincerity, void condescending paternalism.  But in all honesty, I feel like I'm nearing that line ... that there's a little too much sympathy and too much clucking in my voice ... that I'm losing the ability to be genuinely concerned and gaining the ability to front with him.

As if I'm the one who has it bad.

I hope the road turns for you, Randy.  Even just a little bit.  Even just slightly.  Ever so slightly.

Either way, I'll see you on the 8.

I hope you have some new jokes for me next time.

You usually do.
I had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte today (because Starbucks is how I mark my seasons) and waited at the Car Dealership Service Center for no less than 5 hours for them to replace a sensor.

Good thing I had that latte.

And also, Shoes and I went to Mt. Hood last weekend.  O, it was a funny weekend.  I wanted to ride the zip line, not realizing it was all of 500 feet and more suitable for 9 year olds.  I wanted to ride the alpine slides, before we knew that Oregon State Police was holding a fundraiser there.

So we skipped all of that, went on a gorgeous hike and lunched at Timberline Lodge instead.

Shoes' ice cream cone has a naturally occurring hole at the base of the ice cream.  Double sadness.  Holy ice cream and no zip line.

We do love this place a lot.

So close, Shoes is telling you.

I'm trying to think of the last summer things we have on our list to do, but truly, I think this is it. Cougars have their season opener tomorrow,  one Labor Day lunch with Elizabeth and family on Labor Day, we have one amazing wedding of a Stacey and Adam to attend to in the Vineyard town, and then it's full steam ahead into Fall.

Summer, you just started.  Why do you have to be such a punk and leave now?