Life Cycles and Seismic Shifts

Just after the 2020 New Year, my daughter and I opened a time capsule from 2000 we had created with her father. It was eerie how it had seemed like yesterday, yet two decades had elapsed since we had buried that duct tape-wrapped plastic tote on Y2K near a tree next to our A-frame cabin at Lake Nacimiento.

Little did we know when dropped mementos like the circa 2000 Sony phone, my published poems, and letters to ourselves in 20 years how drastically our lives would change six months later. I reflected on our two decade journey and was amazed at how different our lives were. My daughter suggested creating another time capsule for the next 20 years but I declined. Maybe I wasn’t sure I’d live another 20 years, or maybe I feared I would be inviting another seismic shift.

Both 2000 and 2020 involved major moves. Moves we never saw coming at the beginning of those years. Even if we had tried to guess, it would have been a blind shot in the dark. In the Summer of 2000, we moved to Michigan where I’d live for 20 years. In the Fall of 2020, I’d move back to North Dakota, the place of my birth, childhood, and teenage angst.

Each move happened quickly, without much warning or time to consider other options. In 2000 (the dot com gold-rush days), my ex was offered a “once in a lifetime opportunity” with stock options. With dreams of retiring and returning to California, we were all in…then 9/11 happened, our dreams turned to dust, and life was a scramble. This year with the pandemic, the ending of my third marriage, and my daughter’s move to North Dakota, my day job was the only thing keeping me in Michigan. When they gave approval to telework remotely, all systems were go and “Operation Move” was on.

I could never have guessed what was to come for the next 20 years in 2000, just as I couldn’t have guessed what would happen this year, much less the next 20.  The pandemic complicated everything yet without it, I wouldn’t have been approved for remote telework.

Now, after 45 years of living away, I’m home…literally and figuratively.

Land of the Hand

MI PalmUnless you’re from Michigan or know someone who is, it may not occur to you that Michigan is shaped like a mitten. I’d grown up in a boring rectangle state and lived for years in California, the long, misshappen left coast.

When my family moved to Michigan in 2000, we were mystified why people put their hands up to show me where they lived. I know, it seems so obvious now, but never in my 45 years had I seen anyone present a body part to describe geography.

At the time, my daughter was a high school sophomore. Having had enough of the hand, when asked where she lived before, she threw her left arm over her head, bent her elbow, and pointed to a spot about 2-3″ from her armpit on the outside of her arm. I love her quick wit and thought it was brilliant.

I’ve come to love my adopted state, but I’m still not comfortable using my hand for directions. My default is using directions and miles in relation to cities. Next year, I’ll celebrate two decades of being a transplanted Michigander…maybe then I’ll start using my hand.