Vacation Days Seven and Eight: Nostell Priory and Junction 32

Remember how I said I thought my family was the only one on earth that went to outlet malls and other malls while on vacation? Today Simon and his sister Sarah and her boyfriend Gareth did just that. Sarah and Gareth live at Nostell Priory (Gareth works there) which is a gorgeous National Trust site. We headed up there yesterday after a soaking wet morning in Skipton getting me some Wensleydale Cheese to take home from the market. The four of us visited a lovely pub that was in walking distance of the Priory, then went back for a fantastic dinner of chili con carne and all the trimmings. Much love to the two of them for that dinner…I think we all inhaled it without speaking, it was so good.

This morning we got up and set off to visit Simon’s other sister, Louise, and her husband Rob and their daughter Phillipa. We had a great time just doing nothing but visiting. After awhile the sun came out and Lou headed off to take Phillipa on an outing to take advantage of the lovely weather so the four of us headed to Junction 32, something like an outlet mall in the states. I almost bought some COM-FEE clogs but seriously, how often can one wear periwinkle blue suede shoes? I did make off with a gorgeous orange handbag for only £12. Can’t beat that for leather…at least it smells like leather.

Now we’re back in Keighley…Simon’s napping and I’m about to start downloading three days worth of pictures off my camera to add to flickr. My holiday is going just as I needed…slow with lots of time for doing NOTHING.

It’s been…one week…

Not really, it’s actually only been three days since I last posted, but I somehow have that BNL song in my head this morning. Perhaps it’s because in one week I will be living out of boxes and ready to move down the street.

I don’t like chaos. I don’t like flux. I don’t even like spontaneity, truth be told. I know why…I moved a lot when I was growing up and I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. Once you started to sprout and sink roots they were yanked up and moved to the next patch of soil. Some people compensate for that by learning to love adventure. Me? I learned to yearn for the “after the move” time.

Like now. I can’t wait until this time next year in some respects. This time next year I will wake up every morning and see Simon in person, not in 2-D on my laptop screen. This time next year I will be married and moved and hopefully planning visits from my American friends. We will have a house that I won’t have to leave in 6-9 months. I will be settled.

But you know, you can’t ever really say that, can you? What is settled, but saving up energy for the next change in your life? The one thing I can say for sure is that this time next year I will be spending a lot of time in front of the laptop screen again…but this time I will be talking to my new niece or nephew…because I can finally say here at the Lettuce that my sister is pregnant! And I, for one, can’t wait to meet the newest Allen Grady.

Got my wedding dress on Monday so that’s one thing ticked off the list. Oh, two things actually, because the electricity will be transfered to the new house next Friday. Now to take care of the water, gas, and mail delivery…notify my bank…notify all my two credit cards…and hope I haven’t forgotten anything.

Leap…and the net will appear. I just hope it doesn’t have a hole in it.

On Families and Over-reacting

I’ve been thinking a lot in the past few days about what the word family means. I’ve spent a lot of time with my family and have come to several realizations.

You may not be in the same geographical area with your family, but you are still a part of it. My cousin Carol made that point quite well when she spoke at my aunt’s funeral. One thing my aunt loved were children, and since she didn’t have any of her own she more or less “adopted” me and my sister and our seven cousins. We weren’t always right there with her, but she never forgot a birthday or an anniversary. She made arrangements to attend plays, musical recitals, and other important events. I would imagine that it means even more now to my sister that she was at Susan’s ordination as a minister.

I’m not sure which stage of grief I’m in at the moment, really. I think it’s anger. I have some very clear opinions about the series of events leading to my aunt’s death, and while I won’t stoop to the level of some and point fingers I will say that I think had one particular thing not happened my aunt would still be with us. Am I delusional with grief? Possibly, but I don’t think so. Am I looking for a scapegoat? Possibly, but I don’t have to look very far.

I have to hold to my belief that what goes around comes around, and that the deeds that may have hastened my aunt’s death if not caused it outright will be rewarded in kind. It’s funny, my sister and I differ on this…while she is able to hold her composure in check and never stoop to their level, I’m staring people down at the funeral and just waiting for my chance to express how I’m feeling. (ex: I told my mother that if a certain person said boo to me, “it’s on.”)

What has become apparent is that I have neglected my family. One of my father’s sisters actually said to me that she thought I was a stranger to them. While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it holds some truth. I’ve been told in the past few days that I over-react to things that happen to me and maybe that’s true, but I react to things following how I feel. While that particular person can’t possibly know how much my aunt meant to me and how tough this past week has been, he has let me know how I come across to others, and that’s what I need to keep in check.

Man. What a week.

I know a woman

I know a woman who was as tall as a tree, or at least seemed that way to me when I was a little girl.

I know a woman who knew everything there was to know in all the books in the world, because she worked with CURRICULUM, or at least that’s how it seemed when I was a little girl.

I know a woman who loved children, even children who did bad things like take the batteries out of her clocks or not eat all their green beans or talk during the church services at camp meeting, not that I ever did any of that when I was a little girl.

I know a woman who was devoted to her family, especially her little brother, and who was an example to all those that knew her of what faith was and meant.

I know a woman who was a breast cancer survivor.

She was the same woman that let me walk behind her while she picked beans out of the garden, feeding me one or two raw because I wanted to know what they tasted like without cooking. She was the same woman that made me purple cows to drink (Welch’s grape juice and milk with a dash of vanilla ice cream, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!), and always remembered that I was the one that liked apple pie while my sister was the one that liked pumpkin pie.

I know a woman who had strong hands that would gently hold my tiny little girl’s fingers in hers. I remember tracing the outline of the logo on her signet ring, and thinking when I got my own Maryville College ring that it made my hands look a lot like hers…only not so strong.

I know a woman that was stubborn, independent, and is now free. She’s free of a body that wasn’t working as it should. She’s free of worry. She’s free of pain.

I knew a woman, and she was my father’s sister, my grandmother’s daughter, my mother’s sister-in-law, and my aunt. I love you, Aunt Inez and while my heart is breaking for losing you it is also singing that I got the chance to know you, learn from you, and be loved by you.

It’s just turned dark here in San Francisco, so I’ll look for your new star in the night sky.

Finally…

So much has happened since I last had a moment to post…

I am now able to say out loud that I am leaving Alabama next month and moving back to South Carolina. The main reason is so that I can be closer to my family, but I don’t think anyone that works with me here will disagree that this just isn’t the best fit for me job wise…or life wise, really. It’s so trite but I didn’t realise what deep friendships I had in SC until I left them.

Last weekend I headed up to NC by way of my vet’s office in SC for a Hunky check up. I was terrified that the lump on his gum was going to cause the vet to start screaming things like they do on television medical dramas when someone has to go directly into surgery and is at risk to die if they don’t have a good enough agent to become a regular character. Nothing of the sort. When H and J go for dental work in July he will take a bit of it and test it for any kind of nasties but doesn’t expect to find any. I am thankful that my Handsome Fella will be with me a bit longer at least.

As I rounded the “corner” on I-85 near the highway 25/White Horse Road exit in Greenville, my eyes filled with tears. I hadn’t been there since October and the feeling that I was coming back home was overwhelming. I stopped by and saw Tressy, dear friend and former/soon to be coworker, and it was like I’d never left.

Best part? A trip to see my parents will take just under 2 hours, rather than the 4.5-5 hours that it currently takes.

I leave for the UK on the 26th of this month and I’m just plain nervous. I’ll be meeting Simon’s family and spending two weeks there without the dogs to distract me or keep me busy…I just hope that he is still speaking to me afterward!

My divorce will be final on 6 June and once I get back from the UK the first thing I’ll do is get my name back. Nancy E. Allen, resident of Greenville, SC, is on the horizon and I’m so happy!

I bet I get hit by a truck.