Saturday, March 23, 2013

One Year Later

In books and movies, often times the story will fast forward to a new time frame, with my title captioned over the screen. Usually this is notifying the viewer that there wasn't anything of enough significance to show or talk about in detail. That's kind of how I see our lives right now. 

Exactly 13 months ago today, Rebs and I flew into Denver. I feel like someone hit the pause button on our lives once we arrived, because the transition stage of relocating has been moving v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. After a short stint in Colorado, we settled ourselves into a cabin on the Illinois River. Why there? Two reasons: 1) it was close to my school, where I did a 6-month EMT program in Tahlequah. 2) rent was cheap (owned by my parents). But along with the romantic ideas of living in a cabin with some land and river access, there also comes the not-so-often-talked-about differences from city life.

1. Isolation - Our nearest neighbors live a half mile away from us. And though they are a very sweet, older couple, there is only so much we seem to have in common. Most people out there enjoy their privacy, and take pleasure in not seeing another soul other than family members in a day. Personally, I have always enjoyed a more communal lifestyle, where families live near each other, sharing what they have. In my mind, it can make life much easier for everyone. (See Acts 42)

2. Distance - The second cousin of isolation, this means that everything you want to do is far away. In Korea, we lived in a neighborhood, where there was a laundromat, bakery, ATM, grocery store, running trail, church, park, daycare, and several restaurants within a 5 minute walk from our house. At the cabin, if we need to buy milk or eggs, we have to drive about 8 miles for a price-gouging gas station, or 15 minutes for regularly priced groceries.  Usually, we'll plan our week around going into Siloam Springs for groceries, on the same day we go into town for other things. This means, whenever we go anywhere, our vehicles are packed full of trash, recycling, grocery bags, climbing gear, dog, running clothes, and the list goes on. Basically, whenever we leave, we make it count. It just means that days in town are busy.

3. Entertainment - (or the lack thereof) We chose not to afford television when we moved home. The cables to the cabin had been stripped when it was left vacant for several years, and the mess of rewiring everything wasn't something I was willing to take on. You might think we could just watch shows on the internet, but our satellite internet provider (satellite is the only option out here) regulates your usage, restricting us down to 10 gigabytes per month, unless you want to pay double for another 5 Gig. If that doesn't seem too bad, consider that anytime you stream music or watch a video on youtube or Netflix, you're usage is adding up quickly. A 2 hour HD movie is typically about 2 gig by itself. So that limits us.
     So we had to get creative. One thing we have plenty of is land, and fertile land at that. So I started a garden last year, for the first time since I was a child. It was fun, but in a mellow, meditative sort of way. It was also hard, because in trying not to use pesticides or fertilizers, many of my plants got devoured by animals and bugs who seem to love organic vegetables as much as we do. I continue to pick the brain of my mother-in-law who is a Master Gardener, and enjoys the garden as much, if not more than I do.
    We also built a climbing wall in the barn on the property. If you know me at all, you know that climbing is, and will likely always be, a lifetime passion. So not having any gym, and the closest climbable rock being 45 minutes away, we decided to build our own gym. Thanks to the knowledge and experience of my brother-in-law Cass, we were able to get the wall completed in just about 4 days worth of work over a few weeks. I have slowly been collecting climbing holds since then, putting up a new route about once every couple weeks. 

Somehow, I seem to have gotten off the main subject, telling you all about minor details, but avoiding the big picture. So let me zoom out and refocus. We moved back from South Korea because we wanted to start careers and a family. I went back to school to get an EMT license so I could be a firefighter. Rebs started pursuing her counseling license and working for an agency. After 6 months of no work, she got a great job and is taking her licensure exam in June. I got my EMT license last December, and will start as a fire fighter for Siloam Springs on April 8th. One of the stipulations of employment is that we live within the city limits, so we will be house shopping around Siloam Springs in the next few months. If anyone has any good leads, send them our way :).

It's been hard starting over, back in school, feeling like the old guy. I'll be starting as a 31-year-old fireman, whereas most guys get started ten years earlier. But I am so thankful for the time Rebs and I had to learn and grow on our own in Korea, away from what was comfortable and familiar. I would never take away that experience. I am so thankful for this life, and for the opportunity to start this new chapter.