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The last desert dance...

Monday, July 30, 2018

Please pardon my dust while I catch back up with myself! The last week has been a complete whirlwind with my move out of the desert.  I’ve literally spent the entire summer arguing with both my new apartment complex and the HR department for my new school district and very nearly threw in the towel and just moved back home with my mum.  After much soul searching, I ended up in the Denver burbs, as initially planned, and have moved into an unaffordable apartment and set up my classroom, though I have STILL not been officially hired (and work starts on Monday). 

sofingers crossed that all of that nonsense gets unraveled sooner rather than later

What I really want to do today is reflect upon my time in the desert.  These photos are the last that I was able to take out in my favourite local mountain range and the skies opened up a bit just after I’d finished snapping these pictures, which made me feel a bit like the desert didn’t really want me to leave. 

I ended up in Vegas because of Soldier Boy.  Not sure how long any of y’all have been reading here, but he and I “dated” in first grade, then went 16 years without seeing one another face-to-face because he moved out of the school district.  We chatted a bit on AOL and when Facebook became a thing, we connected that way.  He was finishing up at the Air Force Academy while I was interning at a fashion firm in NYC and that’s when we really re-connected.  I moved home and ended up in another relationship and he went off to intel school in Texas.  My roommate from my study abroad program in Paris lived in San Antonio, so when I went to visit her, SB would wander out to spend some time with me (though I was in another relationship).  SB later ended up in Korea and when my other relationship fell apart and I couldn’t sleep, the time difference was perfect so that he was awake and chatty and really helped me through a tough time. 

He was able to come home and bought some extra time between international assignments to stick around for my 25thbirthday before moving to Germany.  We were able to celebrate New Year’s that year in London together and I visited Germany for spring break that same year.  I was all set to move out there as soon as I finished grad school, but then SB deployed to Afghanistan and we got stuck on different continents for another handful of months.  

I finally made my move to Germany in July of 2013 just a day before he was slated to return from deployment.  We spent years traveling Europe together and went through quite a lot. His orders kept getting messed up and I needed surgery that I couldn’t get over there, since we weren’t married, so I ended up moving home to the Chicago area in February of 2016.  SB got super short notice orders to Vegas that summer and by the time he’d arrived back in-country, I’d found my own job out there and made my move.  Love and life had changed us a bit, so we ended up living in apartments in buildings that were next-door to one another with the plan to take some time to re-organize our lives and then buy a home. 
Suffice it to say that none of that happened.  Love and life continued to change us.  This was the first time that I’d been on my own and had to pay all of my own bills (yes, I’m a bit of a late bloomer and I hate to be alone, so I’ve always lived at home, had a roommate, or lived with someone with whom I was in a relationship).  It was also my first time as a lead classroom teacher and not just as an instructional assistant.  I was piloting a program in a Blue Ribbon school (actually, pretty prestigious), so the expectations were incredibly high, though there was no precedent.  I found myself making things up as I went along. 

Every time I thought I had things under control, something else would go out of whack, and as I’ve written briefly recently, my struggle with depression and anxiety really hit a head this year.  Work was awful.  I won’t go into detail, but I will say that for various reasons, I came to bodily harm on a near daily basis.  As soon as I’d managed to get that under control, SB got orders to South Carolina, packed up, and left.  I was totally alone in a place where I didn’t truly feel safe.  

It was in the desert that I truly felt alone for the first time in my life.  It was a place that I never thought I’d visit, much less live.  It was a place where I had to step into quite a lot of responsibility, single-handed, and with little to no support.  It was a place that was a 6-hour drive from one branch of family and a $500 plane ticket from the other and yet, I took more trips to one home or the other in one year in Vegas than I did in all of my years of college + following internship combined.  It was a place where I had almost no access to healthcare through work, yet, I spent more time in hospitals and doctor’s offices in one year than I did in the last 8 years combined (and that includes pre and post surgical appointments).  

The desert is a harsh place.  It’s hard to put down roots in the desert.  You need to have the ability to withstand conditions that will seriously test your ability to survive.  On the flip side, in the right conditions, the desert is beautiful.  I will always treasure the explorations I made into the wilderness.  I climbed a 600-foot tall sand dune and laughed the whole way back down the other side. I will never forget the first spring I spent in the desert and got to see all the different cacti in super bloom (yes, this is where my cactus obsession comes from).  I learned how to car camp during my time in the desert.  I can’t count the number of times that SB and I went out to have picnics on the mountainsides or just to practice bouldering. I re-learned to trust my bad knee on these adventures.   I got to spend some serious quality time with the Milky Way in the desert and also got to enjoy countless meteors.  I learned about Joshua trees and yucca plants.  SB and I drove out to the desert at 3 AM the morning he left for South Carolina to watch the blood moon eclipse together.  

I guess what this novel of a blog post is trying to say is that even though the desert is harsh and I wasn’t able to root there, it is also beautiful in it’s own way.  I learned a lot about life and love in the desert and while I’ve now traded the desert for the mountains, these lessons will make the journey with me

What's sustainable about this outfit? 

: the tee was thrifted
: the trousers are handmade and fair trade
: the earrings are handmade and fair trade
: the bracelets are handmade from up-cycled materials
: the sandals are made from recycled yoga mat foam

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