There is a rhythm and ease to our homeschooling and our Auburn life that was not here in the Fall. We are more at home here now, know more people and things to do, we more accustomed to the pace and nature of rural life. We are more used to the nature of homeschooling, farther removed from our previous lifestyle. Plus, we have been around more lately--we were gone much of November and December.
This settling-in is in contrast with the fact that our experience will be ending in a few months. For example, today I began the process of registering the kids back into the San Rafael City Schools. There was no trepidation in this process; the kids have loved school in San Rafael and have done well. But it is worth noting that as we are just getting used to this life in Auburn, it is time to turn a corner and begin preparing for our return to San Rafael.
And more important than going from one city/house to another, with our geographical return, we will be going from one life to another. I will return to work, the kids to school. We will leave animals, days of choice, and the quiet of space. How will that be? What lasting impact will this year have on our "regular" lives? How much will this year become part of our "regular" lives--after all, we will still be regular visitors to Auburn in the future?
Lately, I've been metaphorically comparing this year with the first "weekend" in a two-week-long life. God willing, I've lived, learned, and worked for about half of my life now. I've followed a more or less typical path through schooling, family and career--the "first week" of my life, in this metaphor. This year, I've taken a "weekend". Like any Saturday and Sunday, there is still lots to do and lots to learn. But it is a break from the routine. Now, like looking forward to Monday on a Sunday afternoon, there is some ambivalence about the return to the regular day-to-day--even if so happens that normalcy is worthwhile and full of meaning.
I am also recognizing and appreciating the rejuvenation and perspective I have received from my "weekend". For one, I feel fortunate to have found a way to create a two-week metaphor instead of a one-week one! Often people only have one "weekend": retirement. Maybe the next step is to find ways to have multiple-week metaphors... or week-long vacations. Hmmm. To be considered, but I also understand that that a life full of weekends would probably lack the appropriate level of meaning for me. In fact, what makes a weekend so special is its contrast with the rest of the week. Using the viewpoint the metaphor engenders, I am excited and interested to see how this year will grow in significance from the vantage-point of my return to "regular" life. How will it change me? What will I appreciate differently about my two lifestyles from the perspective of the "weekend" being over? Will I find ways to meld these lifestyles or will they be able to exist side-by-side? How will Juliana and the kids respond to these same changes and alterations of perspective?
It is interesting to get some preview of how our two lifestyles interrelate when we have visitors. This weekend the Pletcher Hessels visited; they arrived late Friday night after a busy week and we skied, gamed, ate and talked. They live a "San Rafael life" similar to ours and besides the transition
from one place to another, their entry into our "Auburn lifestyle" appeared fairly seamless. That transition period is an issue though. In many ways, it took us a number of months in the Fall. Now that we are more acquainted with it, perhaps it will be quicker and easier to return to our "Auburn" mentality. Or maybe it will just become a part of us.
As a young person, I did a lot of traveling in Latin America. When I returned home, I always wanted to hold on to some of what I experienced there: the kindness of the people, the pace of life, the realness of interactions, the richness of another language and culture. I think at first, there was a tendency to belittle America as something less real or pure. But what I came to realize is that both places were (and are) incredibly special (and of course full of faults). Furthermore, America is my home with my people and a part of who I am. But I gained so much from some understanding and connection to another place and people. That is what I hope can happen with this transition.
I suppose there will be some sadness in leaving this place when the time comes. But that won't be the overwhelming emotion. Mostly I will feel gratitude for the opportunity and joy in the memories. I hope to take new perspectives with me that will make me a better teacher, husband, father, son, brother, friend. I am excited to return to work and our home and community in San Rafael and I look forward to visiting Auburn often.
I am fortunate in my one life to know two lives that I love. It will be an adventure to continue living them together.