Monday, June 13, 2011

Every day is a new adventure

Let me just say that my life does NOT lack adventure. I am more grateful for this than I know how to express in words. Each moment in this context makes me less afraid to dive into the next. A valuable thing, for certain.

We left Nashville one morning after two-ish weeks of being there, and high-tailed it to Indiana, where Chip's family lives. We are in Northwest Indiana, which is about 50 miles outside of Chicago, though we've yet to make it to the city.

After an 8 hour drive, we arrived in the early evening with the intent to show up at a big family party that was happening and surprise everyone. The boys were going to park their trailer in the yard and then we'd head over to the restaurant. Chip's friends had mentioned that it had been raining really hard recently, so Chip decided to drive the car into the yard first to make sure the mud wasn't too bad for the trailer. Only his hand signal for them to stop when he turned onto the grass wasn't clear enough, and so just as the front wheels of the trailer got onto the grass, the whole rig immediately got stuck in the mud. And wouldn't budge. And kept digging the holes deeper and deeper. At this point we had 20 minutes until the party was over. Well suddenly Chip's friends all show up. Not even five minutes had passed since our arrival. It was insane!! One after the other, they pulled into the drive. (So happy to have Chip back in town that word spread like wildfire). And then the grabbing of boards and ropes ensued. The plan of attack was drawn up, and five men stood behind the trailer and pushed while one drove. Just as they successfully parked the trailer in the driveway, all 22(ish) of his family members pulled into the drive, car by car. The greetings were warm and loud and long. Everyone was so thrilled for our arrival. Exhausted as we were, I immediately took to jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Things have pretty much been non-stop from that moment.

Chip boasts a big family, with 5 siblings and 16 nieces and nephews and one great-niece. We are staying on his sister's property, so her house is home to her, her four children, her room-mate, and her two children. His mom's house is just beside theirs. And we are staying in the apartment that's above the barn on the other side of the house.

Chip and our youngest nephew

So, as you can imagine, life here is vibrant and chaotic. I am definitely in my element with all the kids around. I really adore these kids. We've gone hiking and fishing and shopping. They come over all the time to help me make dinner, eat with me, have movie nights, etc.

The first night we arrived, all the nieces got together and asked me if I would teach them how to bellydance. Well! I couldn't imagine what I'd want to do more than just that very thing. So, in those first few days I ordered all 6 of them coinbelts, and planned a class at the karate school owned by Chip's other sister. They were so incredible. I honestly can't believe how quickly they took to it during their very first lesson. I'll have my very own performance troupe in no time!! These girls are so fun.

Other than my spending time with the nieces and nephews, we've been working a whole lot. (I say "we" but mostly it's been Chip.) This place we are staying had so many things wrong with it, and Chip can pretty much do anything, so everyone has really long to-do lists for him when he comes home. So, between re-plumbing this apartment, putting up a new door, wiring the oven, doing the stuff at his mom's and sister's houses, doing stuff in the yard, fixing the mower, etc., it's been pretty busy. Luckily part of that includes paid work at his brother's place. I've been helping out with that too, and thus have learned a little bit about electrical work, amongst other things. Interestingly enough there was a moment when I was downstairs cutting and stripping wires and the thought crossed my mind, "What if these wires were live?" I just had this feeling that there was electricity flowing through. And about two minutes later, Chip yells down the stairs "Hang on Les, one of those circuits might be live!" So he came down and checked, and sure enough it was. So, that was certainly exhilarating.

Sealing cracks in the cement

Other than family time, we've also had a whole lot of friend time in this visit. The first week we were here, my best friend since I was 6 just happened to be crossing through here from Boston on her way to California. She just finished grad school there and is moving to Cali, except she's currently overseas for a couple months teaching in China. So it was wonderful having such a dear dear friend here, and for us to both be at such crossroads in life. We had some much need conversation while walking on the beach (Lake Michigan feels just like the ocean, by the way). And then we had an all out dance party that night.

Chip's friends have also been around a lot. A couple of them I've been able to spend time with previously, and I've had the opportunity to get to know some of the others. They are pretty wonderful indeed. The other night we built a big bonfire in the backyard, and I busted out the glow poi, and someone else had glowsticks, and I proceeded to embrace my inner child (ok, when do I not do that?).

Dance Party!!!!

And just yesterday, the kids moved all the living room furniture into the front yard, and then we spent all day outside dancing on the porch and in the yard. I even gave bellydance lessons in the front yard. It was an amazing and much needed day. Did I mention how these kids just blow me away?

Our niece in her bellydance attire, in the open air living room

So tomorrow our traveling companions part ways with us. They are heading on toward Massachusetts and we will stay here until the work gets done. Which may mean another week entirely.

The plan after that (as much as there is a plan) is to stay in Mass for one entire month. We are looking for a room to rent for that time, so that we can explore the wonders of New England in the summer (the best time, in my opinion). Who knows what that will have in store for us. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The rest of our time here will be filled with bellydance classes for the girls, dinners with the kids, and hopefully a day trip to Chicago via the train (I really dig that city).

Hope this finds you all well. I send my love.

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