It's been more than six months since my last post. It hasn't been an easy six months. Some of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make, and the consequential headspace that has followed, still haunt me.
Yet, through hardship comes the possibility of strength and wisdom, even as the heart and mind feel their weakest.
Over the past months I've thought of writing, but couldn't find the words to express the moments of happiness I'd enjoyed. So I've waited. Now it's time.
The previous post detailed my last trip back to Mexico for the remainder of my belongings. I'd never intended to live in the USA again. But life likes throwing curveballs, especially my life!!
It's been challenging, to say the least, moving back to this country. But there have been some happy moments!
One of my favorites is Juice Land. It's the best smoothie chain in the world. Trust me on this one. I went out of my way to make sure I got a Juice Land smoothie on my way up through Austin, TX headed north.
I didn't have time to stay in Austin, but my plans worked well enough that I was able to snag an hour+ of contra dancing on my way through. Contra dancing is my absolute favorite and even though I had no dance shoes (mine had literally broken in two and I had to pitch them in Mexico and hadn't replaced them yet), I still danced my heart out and left with bruised and battered and filthy feet to prove it!
My car is still going, amazingly! Mexico was not kind to her in many ways.
I had taken her to a mechanic that used to live and work in Chicago (and thus knew of my car, whereas most Mexicans had never seen an Alero) and was supposedly very good.
My car regularly overheated and I needed a new thermostat. Turns out they stole my thermostat innards and never replaced it. Of course I didn't know this at the time. I saw my car running consistently hotter and asked multiple times about it and was always reassured that everything was fine and they'd put in a used sensor from a corresponding car that read different on my gauge, but it had been tested and was good.
I took my car to multiple other mechanics for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opinions, which resulted in more of the same. Ultimately, I had no choice but to believe them and keep going.
After returning to the USA, I went back to investigating the overheating issue. Turns out, Mexico didn't replace my thermostat. They stole it.
What you see on the floor is all that was in my thermostat housing. The picture on the box is what was supposed to have been there. I'm amazed my car did as well as she did for as long as she did!
Speaking of how amazing my car is...she crossed the big 300,000 mile marker! Yes, I pulled off the road to take a selfie with her lol :)
When I got back to the USA, I went straight into gigging in the Midwest area....in the middle of winter.
One fine day I woke up to such icy conditions my gig was cancelled. Since I'd been planning to leave the following day, I just headed out an afternoon early. What I didn't know, was that my blower motor had decided to go caput that very day. (It might seem odd that I was unaware, but since my car is older, it takes some time to get the heat or cool really pumping into my car).
So, as I headed out onto the slippery highway, I couldn't feel any heat whatsoever, coming from my car. The heater was clearly working because if I put my hand on the vents, I could feel the faint heat, but none of it was entering my car.
It also meant I had no defroster. It was so cold outside that my windshield was constantly freezing over and I had to stop several times at car shops along the highway to buy more de-icer to be able to see out my windshield!
I was terribly, miserably cold. With my scarf laid across my lap, two hats on my head, my coat zipped all the way up, and one hand gloved, I was shivering. My poor instruments. There was nothing I could really do, especially not for my cello. I wrapped my violin case in my yoga mat, but it was the best I could do. There was no warmth to be had anywhere.
The silver lining of being so frigid, is that I never once got the slightest bit sleepy. It was a good thing too, because the drive that was supposed to take about 10 hours ended up taking significantly longer. The wind was brutal, blowing my car into the proximate lane on occasion. Multiple semi-trucks had literally been blown over. They hadn't veered off the road. They were on their sides on the shoulder, or just off it.
It was very icy though, as witnessed by the number of cars and trucks that had slid into ditches. Driving was slow and most traffic had vacated the roads.
As the day progressed into evening, the roads became icier, if that was possible. And as evening turned to night, the driving snow and ice from the tormentous wind became blinding.
I was dreading the hours I'd have to finish the drive off the interstate. Driving on the 4 lane divided highway with more salt trucks than vehicles was bad enough. Once I turned onto the state 2-lane highway, all semblance of visible roads would vanish.
And indeed, that was so.
No snow plows or salt trucks had been down them and the wind had wiped away any evidence of previous traffic. Occasionally a street light gleamed in a hazy fog of swirling snow, but my main source of light was my car headlights, beaming low so I could scan the roadsides anxiously for mailboxes and signs of ditches.
I had one last town to pass through before I reached my destination. As I drove slowly through the abandoned streets at 3 a.m., not giving a care in the world if I was in any lane whatsoever, I noticed a cop at the top of a hill, parked in the middle of the road.
I eased my car up the hill and the cop got out of his car to walk over to mine. I rolled down my window and asked if I could continue down the road. He replied that I could not. So I asked how to get around since there were no detour signs and my gps would just try to get me to turn around and stay on the main road.
He pointed out a route through the neighborhood streets on my map app and off I went. These were back country, windy and hilly road, neighborhoods, barely wide enough for two cars to meet.
I slid and fishtailed and crept along until I could see another police car perched on top of the hill I had to climb to reach the main street again. I climbed it and ignored the stop sign as I tried to keep my car climbing the hill through the turn onto the main road.
I'm not quite sure how I successfully made it home that night. Between the blinding snow, the ice, the gales of wind, and the lack of salt and snow plows, I'm amazed. But I did. And I was wide awake the entire time!
Oh, and I replaced the blower motor immediately :)
Of course, winter gave way to spring and I found beautiful blooms as I trapsed through farmland. I enjoy walking through the fields and pastureland, staring up at the fluffy white clouds in the sky while keeping an eye out for a cow pie underfoot! Time can get lost there. Lost in such a way that you don't wish to recover it.
Driving down the gravel roads as the sun fades away, the open prairie stretched out before you; there are sunsets that invite you pull to the side, stop, and just take it in. And occasionally take an unfiltered photo :)
Farm work can be fun, but it's not easy. My hands below were washed after working on my car. Granted, they were just "washed" with the hand sanitizer in my car, but still!
The trencher I'm standing on in the photo, is no longer in one piece. Decades ago, as it dug a trench for a gas line, it hit a gas line (ironic as that is...) and blew up. Left inoperable where it stood by the gas company, it's now found a new home as many pieces of iron, sold in parts. It was one incredible machine to behold, though!
All the fun around the farm has happened between lots of gigs around various states. It's been nice reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
One of the new friends in town hires me for opera gigs. I've played many many many pit gigs, but this pit is the first I've had to climb so far UP to! And then duck to get into of course LOL!
I tried to have a pic taken that captures the height of the stairs into the pit and I stooped in the doorway to showcase the hobbit sized door, but I don't think the photo was entirely successful.
Still, the stairs are a solid two stories to climb and a shrunken 2/3 sized door to enter without cracking your head open on the concrete floor joists above you!
All in all, a great time!
At the end of the symphony season this past summer, I drove up to Indiana. It was a tough trip in many ways, but one consoling part of the journey was a quick stop at Lake Michigan. It's not the ocean, but sitting on the sandy beach, closing my eyes and listening to the seagulls, feeling the wind in my hair, and hearing the waves lap onto the shore, brought me a comfort I can not describe.
I truly long for the ocean.
Life has not taken me on the journey I've anticipated nor planned for, in most ways. Learning to adapt and continue on are tough lessons along the way. Deviation from your desired course is hard. It's devastating even.
Finding the balance to pursue your dreams and still let life lead you on its chosen course is a lifelong lesson to learn.
For now, I'm currently back in the USA, performing the orchestra circuit, and working for a future I hope to achieve before it's too late; or to be granted the grace and wisdom to be able to change as life changes me.