Driving along the South Shore of Nova Scotia yesterday near Lunenberg, I stared out at the cars filling the highway at rush hour and my oldest blurted out that she loved our life.
“We have a great adventure every day mom. Nova Scotia is the best place ever.”
It seemed like the appropriate moment for that revelation. We’d just spent a fun couple of days tooling up and down the South Shore from the Acadian villages of Pubnico to wool mills, beaches, UFO Museums and lots of ice cream with friends from Vancouver who are spending a summer out here. Returning to Halifax all sandy, exhausted and hopped up on mosquito repellant meant lots of smiles and some seriously fun summer memories.
More than one or two summers zoomed by without much acknowledgement in our oldest daughter’s life. She has worked booths. Taken farm tours. Spent a whole lot of time with me on the job site. But, I have hardly been present for her until this summer. While I know I should be in the office – really should be in the office – her face, the absolute joy and love of having her parents fully engaged with her exploring this new world together is irreplaceable. Whenever someone asks us to adventure with them, we simply go.
For her, it’s the thrill of looking behind her on the path and seeing mom and dad right there. For me, it is the only way to curb the abject loneliness.
I’m used to being the person in the know, connecting folks who are new and finding their legs, showing tiny legs the path and finding familiar faces with warm smiles at every turn. One of the most intense and emotionally nuts parts of moving a zillion miles from familiarity – even to a place as charming and friendly as Halifax – is that first year when play dates and friends, a sense of self and place and comfort constantly stands about 100 paces away from anyplace you find yourself. It teases you – like it wants to wrap you up and give you some love, but not right now.
My preference in life is to be in full go mode anyway. But, lately, lonely newcomer syndrome rules my world. No adventure to be overlooked for the sheer sake of not sitting around in the quiet of our unfamiliar house in our unfamiliar neighborhood lamenting being alone.
Really, though, I want to think that no one would blame me.
It’s summer. The kids are out of school. Day care is a distant dream. The time for friend-making and settling in will come as soon as the vibrant September sun brings school days, schedules and sweater weather. I think about baking bread for the neighbors. Setting up a craft space in the back yard. We make daily walks to score local meat from a farmer who sells at Alderney Landing, hit the library, say hello at the folks who pop up on our regular route.
But, the wall of strangers taking in the sights on the Halifax Wharf or walking around open-mouthed at Peggy’s Cove seems so much simpler to process than the work of discovering and cultivating new friendships right now.
I mean, I have friends.
Yes, the ones I would call for a beer are generally 6,500 K from our wee bungalow. But, I linger in that strange ether with them – lonely and wishing making a new life for ourselves was easier.
Meanwhile, our oldest daughter is busting tail to bloom where she is planted. This lack of companion thing is SOOOOO not going to work for her and she’ll stop to talk with anyone who looks even close to her age and willing to goof off with her for an hour or two. The wee one seems to be in the same mode.
I so admire that about them as I would love to feel even remotely capable of slowing down long enough to complete a conversation with a potential new friend. I want to tell Mhari when she is so missing her friends in Comox that it’s OK to live in her head for a while. But, if she’d find me there – writing books, chatting with my pals, trying to remove myself from the angst of not knowing how to navigate much of anything right now – she’d find me feeling so very blue.
That’s why that inner world gets a straight arm from me holding it at bay. We’re busy figuring out how to literally navigate the outer world. Every trip in the car, every new inch of highway, city road or sidewalk covered means another space to check off my list – it’s a list that has no purpose right now other than that eventually it will not exist because I won’t feel like I NEED to physically walk or drive or ride along a path in order to know my way.
I’m determined to make friends with the loneliness and change it into loveliness along the way – one classic summer event filled with strangers and strange places after another.