Thursday, January 17, 2008

I think I'm officially a transplant now

So exactly one year ago today, I woke up in my mother-in-law's house. In Oregon. I had spent the day before saying goodbye to my own mother, who is one of my absolute best friends, wrangling airport security with two kids and three pets, and being hugely, emotionally, pregnant.

It goes without saying that Oregon is significantly different from Illinois. I mean aside from the fact that it's not flat. And there's no corn fields. And you can ski here. I'm a Chicago girl at heart, despite never living in the city itself - when you've spent your entire life within an hour of downtown, it gets into you anyway. I'm a Cubs-loving, Chicago hot dog eating, deep dish pizza loving kind of girl. (And let me just say, the pizza here kind of sucks, but that's a whole 'nother blog.) To me that skyline says HOME and to some extent, it always will. It's where I was born and raised, where a huge portion of my extended family lives, where I went to school, met my husband, fell in love, and forged some of my best frienships. It really *is* "sweet home Chicago" in every sense.

And somehow, I woke up one day and found myself in Oregon. On January 17 of last year, to be exact. Surrounded by hills and mountains and people who thought it was funny when I said "pasta." My husband was five hours away in some little town in the Columbia Gorge, slaving away for Google in between Wii bowling in the rec room and after work, he was trying to get our rental house secured. We weren't sure of too many things - if this had been a wise choice, if our kids were weathering all of the changes okay, or even if *I* was weathering all of the changes okay. It was the middle of winter. Under lead-gray skies, even the mountains failed to raise my spirits much. I was pregnant, scared, and quite literally, a stranger in a strange land. Little did I know then how wonderful it would all turn out to be.

So much has happened in the past year. Our son was born - one of the bright lights of my life. He has changed who I am as a mother, and after some of our past pregnancy issues (I had a very scary ectopic rupture following a miscarriage in between Kbear and Chunk) he is one of the most precious gifts I've ever recieved. I wouldn't be the same without him.

My girls started school. Banana is rockin' the house in Kindergarten and Kbear is absolutely flourishing in preschool. We've gotten involved in dance, soccer, and PTA. We have settled into small-town life. We have wonderful neighbors and fantastic friends. Skippy has a terrific job, working for what is pretty much one of the coolest companies ever. Although I miss our Chicago loved ones terribly, I'm too busy to be lonely. Airplanes are a lovely thing. And I've learned that a little distance can't change true friendships. It makes us treasure our time on the phone and during visits that much more.

A year ago I sat in the car outside our rental house and shivered in the cold. Then I called my best girlfriend Jax and cried and told her that I was pretty sure I was in hillbilly mountain hell, and I didn't know what on earth we had done.

Now, I have so many wonderful friends. I can pop in on Charlotte or Nicole and say hi, or grab dinner with the Google gals, or catch a movie with AmyM. I'm involved in the school and with the community. I can't go ANYWHERE without running into someone I know - which is pleasant as long as I have a bra on and I've brushed my hair. Our mailman knows our name. So does our bank teller. And at the gas station they always have biscuits for Bailey.

My children never get tired of exploring all of the new sights. We road trip regularly and get in some awesome family time doing new things. And in a lot of ways, my husband and I are closer than ever. I understand why we were best friends before we were together - and I realize that he is still without a doubt, my very best friend.

And I'm happy. Truely, genuinely happy.

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