To Maryland – but not the one I know…

I arrived in town to find our house exactly as we’d left it, save for the kind note from the realtor who’d hosted our most recent Open House the previous weekend.   That was weird (not the note), the way our house had seemed to stand still, patiently waiting (?), entirely untouched (indifferent even?) by our absence or the threat of a new denizen, alleged felon or no. Instead of feeling like a supportive anchor amidst all the changes we’d been experiencing, ones I was desperately trying to process in my short window of grown up alone time, the house’s nonchalance seemed to make light of my discomfort, which made me feel that much worse. Like I said, weird.

Although I was back in the place we’d made into a home for four years, it was a sterilized version of my recollection. In accordance with all the staging recommendations I’d read, nowhere did we have a family picture still adorning the walls. Most of the items that had designated it as our family’s home had either been brought with us in Davista or packed away in boxes. Yet everywhere I looked I was bombarded by poignant family memories, all of which only faintly matched the current reality. The disconnect was so overwhelming that I retreated outside to escape.

I spent the afternoon harvesting tomatoes and ground cherries from our garden gone wild in our absence. Cape gooseberries (the other name for ground cherries) are cousins to the tomatillo, with a similar dried husk indicating their ripeness but with a tangy sweet flavor. We first sampled them dipped in chocolate on our honeymoon in Venice – see, this theme was forming even before kids came into the mix. I also, for the first time ever, cleaned the pool because 1) it desperately needed it before the next Open House scheduled in two days time and 2) the mindless labor allowed me to postpone being in the house again while I tried to understand what my reaction to being in it again meant.

I think my processing went something along these lines, although maybe not necessarily in this order… Do I miss Maryland? It’s hard to say definitely yes or no with so much capturing my attention daily. Frankly I haven’t really thought much about that. Do I miss our house in Maryland? I think only the space we created in the basement, because, really, who doesn’t love a craft space steps away from the kegerator. What about the way of life we carved out? Since that’s definitely not how I want to live our next chapter, I’d have to say no. Do I skim first and then vacuum? Shoot, or should I let out some water first? I think it’s too full (apparently it’s been raining here while fires rage out West), I should probably text Flight for his recommendations. Is this overwhelming reaction because I am acutely missing my family? Hmm. I guess I really do like them and we have been together 24/7 for the last six weeks. I’m not sure when that’s ever been the case. How much was my feeling their absence compounding my reaction to being back in the house? 94%? I don’t know.

After getting briefed on Flight’s SOP for tending to the pool, I went back to harvesting more goodies from the garden while the siphon hose dumped our excess pool water under the trampoline generating the standard temporary swamp. Unless you want to buy our house, then it’s got perfect drainage…

Although it didn’t come to me until I am now typing this, the disconcerted feeling reminds me of the uncomfortable reintegration process following previous Navy deployments.   While deployed with a VP squadron you spend six months living with the ten other members of your crew. In addition to routinely flying 11-hour missions together (not including the preflight and post flight requirements), you spend much of your time traveling in a pack and there is very little alone time. I became so accustomed to living this way that returning to the quiet that comes with living solo in a small house really threw me for a loop. If memory serves (and it usually doesn’t), it took just over a week to find my stride again. Interesting parallel.

Not wanting to disturb the museum quality of our house and not having an operational refrigerator within (they’ve all been unplugged in our absence), I eagerly jumped on the opportunity to dine out.

All by myself.

That’s become sort of a joke between me and Flight.  About six months ago we went to lunch at Lures in Annapolis. They always have fresh caught goodness served a number of interesting ways and boast a solid on tap menu for beer (and cider) geeks. Happily sated by our lunch, I asked Flight when he’d come here before as he seemed to know the menu. He mentioned he’d been to Lures three times previously. I couldn’t believe this was then only my first outing here and asked him with whom he had dined. “No one. I ate by myself.” “What do you mean by yourself? Who goes to a restaurant to eat alone?” I had always considered dining out an extravagance, something I would only do with company and certainly not while I was surrounded by plenty of food at home. “I do it all the time on the road. You should try it some time.”

So I did.

I went to Paladar and ate all five of my mini tuna tacos all by myself. They were crazy good and the experience was quite liberating. I believe I’ll be doing that again as soon as I can make it work.

The morning came way too early (I was still on Mountain Time) and I powered through my Navy Reserve day, no great hardship I assure you. I was intrigued by the opportunity to once again dine alone. I tried a couple other of my nearest favorites and found them all to have ludicrous wait times (apparently other people go out to eat on Saturday nights too – a lot of them and few are parties of one), so I grabbed some dinner at Whole Foods along with simple brekkie fixings for the next morning. I had the option to go to the Navy football game and/or visit with any number of friends in the area, but I realized I needed some down time of my own and savored my brooding in solitude.

The second best part about my brief stint in Maryland was that I was able to scour our house for several elusive items, most critical of which were Firebolt’s glasses (even though they had become her second back-up pair after a visit to the optometrist in Minnesota) and more long pants for Keeper (who donned them all as highwaters when we were reunited – shoot!). Truly the best part was that I got to dine with our cousins who live 1.1 miles from our house in Maryland. Our whole family has missed their gaggle (WoodSprite and their youngest were in preschool together the last couple of years) and, as they are part of GiGi’s brood, they are some of my favorite people.

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And so I departed Maryland early the next morning still not really understanding how our residence seemed to have made no imprint on the sterilized husk of our house nor how being in it again evoked so much visceral turmoil. I’m just happy to be rejoining the rest of the family on this long strange trip…

Maybe I need to dine out again all by myself to try to sort it all out…

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