Tuesday 28 August 2018

Feeling more alive

I sit outside, back against a tree, eyes closed, face lifted up towards the sun. I breathe in deeply the wonderful smell of warm pine needles, late summer, and the first hint of fall in the air. 
The smoke is gone. After weeks of obscured skies, hazy horizons, the sun tinged red, and the constant smell of fire in the air, it feels like a miracle to breathe fresh air again. 
Having this half hour of solace and peace is like a warm blanket wrapped around my shoulders on a cold day. I'm feeling smaller and more vulnerable than usual, and the sun is not only warming my skin, but also my soul.   

I'm smack in the middle of my 9(!) days away from home, having said goodbye to Rich and the dogs only hours earlier, and as I'm learning, this is the worst day of the week for me. After having braved the first half of my time away quite well, seeing him and the dogs for a way too short time before they leave again just reminds me of how much I miss them. It's true what they say: absence makes the heart grow fonder, and my heart is a big, mushy pile of fondness and longing.
We're establishing a routine where Rich arrives Sunday afternoon with Lily and sometimes Nina, we have an early dinner, walk the dogs, and then we check into a hotel for the night, watching movies and cuddling. We never really got to date, moving in together right away since I moved to Canada to be with him, and now, 16 years later, it feels like we are dating for the first time in our relationship.  
It's an interesting experience. 

Rich always looks good, freshly shaved and dressed sharply in his best hat and cowboy boots, scented with my favourite cologne of his and with that sparkle in his blue eyes I love so much.  
I, on the other hand, still haven't quite figured out whether to dress nicely and just get changed in case the hospital calls me in, or dressing in scrubs all day, and I realize that choosing scrubs was the wrong choice; I feel woefully underdressed. 
I also miss having wine with dinner, but with being on call I have no other option; water it is. 
But it's glorious to sit across from the man I love, talking and laughing together and filling each other in on what's been happening since we last saw each other. 
I miss him. I miss our home. I miss the dogs and the kittens and the foals, the neighbourhood pub, our friends, my sweet little cabin. 
But I really like my new job, and my new co-workers, and how nice everybody is. I appreciate much more what I have now, seeing my life in a new light, inadvertently comparing it to the lives I'm surrounded with here. The feeling of sweet freedom I get at the end of my block when I hand over the on-call phone (lovingly called the "ball-and-chain") is quite indescribable.

In a way I don't quite understand yet I feel more alive again. I think I have gotten complacent over the last few months, lulled into a predicable routine, not being fully present. It's hard to explain. 
My emotions are definitely heightened now: the sharpness of missing home, the warm feeling I get about starting to fit in at my new work place, gratitude for my other work place, the excitement I feel every Sunday about Rich's visit, and an overall deep appreciation for my life. Driving home after a week (or more) away from home is such a high, I feel giddy with joy!

I notice that I appreciate little things much more than I did before: every smile, every friendly word, the warm sun on my skin, the smell of pine trees in the air, talking to Rich on the phone. I love having lunch at my favourite coffee shop, or going for a walk with a new friend, or reading outside with my back against a tree.
I fill my little note book with observations about the people I meet, the loneliness I sometimes feel, and about all the lives I get a glimpse of. 
It's a life that's a bit more uncomfortable than it has been in a while - but it's good. More intense, somehow, but good. Necessary, I believe.
I'm trying hard to make this year where I'm working away count, to make it worthwhile, to learn something. And I believe I am learning to be more awake, to be more present, and to appreciate it all: even the slow evenings where I do nothing but watch Netflix; even the moments when I miss my husband; even the sharp pinch when I see him leave on Monday morning.
Because it reminds me of how much I love and are being loved, how much I have, and that life doesn't have to be easy to be wonderful.

It reminds me that I am alive.    


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