I've been retrenching, in Jane Austen fashion: cutting my losses, vacating my apartment (a process which took far, far longer than I had planned, as there was far more stuff to move than I had estimated), putting the belongings I wanted to keep in storage, taking others to estate sales, and working through the whole emotional and financial mess that my herniated disks precipitated has kept me from writing for a full sixty days. I told someone who remarked that I was bearing up well under the tumultuous conditions that I was comforted by the fact that Austen heroines meet Mr. Right after having to endure such reverses.
There have been several changes in the intervening months, besides my relocation from Arlington to Alexandria, from my 900-square foot apartment to the small guest room in Susan and Steven's basement. My Navy brother Bob is now ex-Navy, my other brother, Nate, is gaining an ex-wife. I am not going to Ukraine as I was told I would, but Dex--with whom I did go to Ukraine those years ago--has reappeared in my life (as a valuable member of my moving team--I would not have made it without him, or Rachel, who came over twice to help me stuff things into boxes, or Susan and Steven and little Theo, who arrived the last rainy night to cheer me through the final hours of packing, or Lad and Tara and five other people from Sunday School who sacrificed an entire Saturday to the task of getting all my furniture down the stairs, into vehicles and set neatly in storage). And then there are Anita and Mary, who respectively are giving space to my jewelry and sewing components. Could I but put all these dear friends into a suitcase and carry them with me, I would be happy anywhere on earth!
Speaking of nigh-impossible schlepping, I reflected one night as I was carrying one of countless personal boxes to the minivan I'd borrowed from my dear boss, after a full day of moving things around an estate sale venue, that as the lepers of old used to call out "Unclean, unclean!" we schleppers of today must call out "We clean! We clean!" as we haul away objects to tidy up space for events. It's a good thing my surgery was effective, and that I have regained most of the strength in my right arm, because I've been using every muscle to move my own stuff and others'.
As a break from heavy lifting, I did face-painting at the annual Armenian Festival in Old Town Alexandria one Saturday; I was paid for the gig, but the best reward was watching little children admire the ladybugs and other cute creatures I drew on their tiny hands (most opted for hand-painting rather than face-painting because they could easily see what I drew). Thanks to Anita, who was manning out joint booth next door, I also sold more jewelry than I had since the Christmas Georgetown show--one necklace was bought by the former ambassador to Armenia for his wife. My creations are adorning some neat people!
That evening, I stayed at Anita's, and my niece Rita called me to cheer me up. She'd overheard her parents discussing the fact that I was depressed about my impecunious old-maidenhood, and she wanted to assure me that she and Brad loved me, that they "are my children", which I thought was really sweet. She'd just gotten her two front teeth fixed--she'd broken both of them in a fall, and had at first been seriously angry at the Almighty that He'd let such a thing happen. I had written her a letter telling her that I believed that God allows us to experience some bad things like this because He wants us to know how to show compassion and sympathy for others who are experiencing similar situations. I certainly have a greater understanding for those who find themselves in stressful financial conditions, and how wonderful demonstrated, practical love can be (my friends helping me move, my church Deacon's Fund covering one of my monster medical bills in full) now that I've been here myself. I don't know how much of my letter affected her, but am glad that Rita has concern for others--she didn't seem to be harboring any evidence of spiritual crisis when we spoke.
I'm tired. There are many details yet to be sorted. I drove down to GA today (I have a doctor's appointment on Monday, and though Mums and John flew to MI this morning for a week's fishing vacation, she left me a list of things to do) and visited briefly with my friend Susanna while my brother Bob meticulously stenciled a Hello Kitty emblem onto his motorcycle gas tank. He's already taken the guest bed back to his new pad in Charleston, and is occupying the master bedroom here this weekend, so I'm sleeping on the couch tonight.
I would like to continue, to rant extensively about the evils of the financial burdens associated with the American medical system, particularly the pigheaded bureaucracy at the so-called "non-profit" Virginia Hospital Center, which refuses to believe that I am unable to pay their exorbitantly costly fee for my Valentine's Day MRIs, and to comment on the dreadful assortment of Father's Day cards available to the filial shopper this year, but I am exhausted from the nine-hour drive and from the residual effects of changing residences.