J had his "Blue and Gold" cubscout banquet on Friday night. The entertainment was a local magician. While the boys sat in front of the stage anticipating the next trick, the parents sat at the tables conversing with each other, texting, etc. In my mind, there's only so much you can do with colored handkerchiefs to hold my attention.
I sat across from one lady, chatting about everything under the sun. And then she asked, "Where are you from?" I said, "New Or.leans", rather matter-of-factly. So, the next question for me has ALWAYS been, "Did you come here b/c of the storm?" This situation was no different. I don't mind answering that question or even the other ones that follow with regard to the status of my home after Ka.trina. The question that usually makes me think is...
What made you come to Vir.gini.a?
The short answer is that I have a cousin here, who offered to take in my son and I.
When I think back to my living situation at the time of the evacuation, sharing a small space with 8 people wasn't bad. However, being in that close of a proximity to my dad was a strain, especially since the last time that I HAD to live with him was when I was 11. In addition, we were in the midst of a feud over financial matters when the storm hit. He did something so underhanded to me that made me such an emotional wreck that my boss had to pull me aside for coming into work with puffy eyes everyday for over a week. I guess you can say that I was already in a storm before Ka.trina even hit.
On top of that, I was dating "ole dude". To look back on how low my self-esteem had to have been to stay in that situation for a year is embarrassing. It makes me teary-eyed to even think about how little he respected me. I don't know why that still bothers me, damn-near 5 years later, but I've grown leaps and bounds since then.
I was working a job that only offered 5 days of PTO a year...I believe that I got 3 sick days and 2 vacay days. Perhaps I was getting paid competitively (not really sure about it, considering how I was still living check to check), but working at a small firm puts a lot of responsibility on your back. And I found myself spending more nights in the office than I was at home.
J was also spending more time with PawPaw than he was with me. And I can't honestly say that I thought that was a bad thing at the time.
Simply put, my life was a mess.
So when the storm hit and my cuz extended her offer, initially, I dismissed it. At first, I thought that I'd just wait it out. After all, we were all without jobs...we were all without homes...we were all on food stamps...we were all waiting. I don't really know...maybe there was some comfort in knowing that we were all struggling together.
Then one day, I just got tired of struggling. I could "wait" for some sense of normality, but "normal" for me was STILL dysfunctional. I can't count how many times I have been in situations so bad; yet, I couldn't see the "pay-off" in letting go. A lot of times, I have made everything out to be too complex in my mind, but sometimes, in order for things to change, all it takes is a decision on my part.
I just need to decide that I want things to be better and act on it.
I had never been to VA. My cuz and I had never lived in the same state all of our lives. I really didn't know what to expect.
I got up the courage to inform the rest of the gang that J and I were leaving, in search of "better". Needless to say, this didn't go over well. They REALLY laid it on thick. I was told that I didn't know what I was doing, that I shouldn't subject J to that kind of move, and that my decision just didn't make any sense. It certainly would've been easier to remain in my comfort zone...and wait. I would've made EVERYONE ELSE happy, I suppose.
The day that J and I left, my stepmother cried and my dad could hardly look at me. J had gotten used to living with his cousins and having constant playmates, so he was sad as well. He'd just turned 5 and I felt guilty about putting him through more changes when he was still adjusting to our new reality. Of course, I doubted myself but something kept me driving...even through the severe rainstorm (that my dad used as an argument for me not to travel).
It's kind've interesting to look back on that time...especially while doing and enjoying everything that my family said that I couldn't. To see that we've acquired all the material things that we lost and then some is great, but to witness the level of maturity that both J and I have reached has been amazing.
There were some nights when I didn't think that J's nightmares would end. And there were some fears I worried that he wasn't able to fully express, but still lurked around in his mind. But now, he's so well-rounded, active, smart...and hopefully I'm instilling enough confidence in him as well.
I don't think that I realized it then, but I stepped out on faith and God surely guided and protected us along the way.
So, I may say things about VA...about being tired of living here...about needing to get away...but, truth be told, VA has been really good to me. VA has brought "better" to us on a silver platter.
I remember this whenever I start thinking that I can't make it through some "crisis" or "period of discomfort". I recalled this when I didn't have a job to rush off too, less than a year ago.
Change starts with a desire and a decision...and I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me.