I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. Well, longer than lately; it’s been nearly three years, if I’m being honest—ever since the fire. A funk that waxes and wanes, but even during my best times, always seems to be there, lingering. It’s hard to articulate the full effects this experience has had on me—on our family—but the truth is, we’re still dealing with the repercussions almost daily. Our life was flipped upside down that night, and three years later I have yet to find my footing. I am constantly overwhelmed by life, having not yet redeveloped appropriate systems for organization, I struggle with paranoia, and my heart aches when my children do as well—Hutton, in particular, has had a rough time lately, and it has become evident that he is in need of some counseling. The resulting feelings of depression, anxiety, and constant exhaustion have changed me. I wouldn’t say my pre-fire self was carefree, but I would say that I used to be able to make people laugh, I used to know how to have a good time, I used to be a bit crazy. I feel like that side of me has been a buried for the last several years. This is kind of a sick metaphor, but I feel a bit burnt out by life.
The summer after the fire, when my struggles were at their worst, my friend Tanya suggested we plan a little day trip to the Amish community just an hour or so south of here. She told me I’d love it; she promised it would lift my spirits. Two years ago this fall three of us girls—Tanya, Amanda, and myself—took the first of our (now seasonal) ventures into the quaint little countryside whose beauty is depicted by rolling hills that are specked with beautiful, yet simple, farm houses. Bakeries are tucked in the basements of houses, and rug shops are found in little white buildings off the side of the road. The bulk food grocery store—the place that probably draws the most city-folk—sits just down the road from the woodworking shop; it’s close but just far enough away that hopping in your car still makes sense.
The three of us girls ventured back down there a couple of weekends ago; it’s impossible to visit this part of the state and not slow down, not breath deeply, not let the beauty of it sink into your being; with each exhale I felt my body expelling the pent up stress. These trips always seem to come at a much needed time for me and this one was no different.
Our day started with our traditional cinnamon roll breakfast, but these are no ordinary cinnamon rolls, these are just-out-of-the-oven gigantic rolls dripping with homemade frosting. These cinnamon rolls are, quite seriously, a little slice of heaven. There is nowhere to daintily eat these, so we sit in our car and do our best not to get frosting down the front of our shirts. We chit chat, but mostly you’ll hear a lot of mmmmm’s and OMG, these are so good!
Our original plan for this trip was to make it an over-night, but that had to be scrapped at the last minute (due to what I believe is probably post traumatic stress that we’ve been dealing with with Hutton.) Even if we couldn’t stay until Sunday, we still had the whole day to spend; there were no time limits this time, no Mama commitments that we had to tend to in the evening. Having a whole day to ourselves, sans clock-watching, made the whole trip that much more enjoyable.
After our cinnamon rolls we checked out a neighboring farm that was for sale (I couldn’t help it!) and then headed to the woodworking shop and the grocery store. I stocked up on kluski noodles for all of our chicken noodle soups needs for the winter, replenished my supply of ground flax seed, and found the boys (and Collin too) some new work gloves (they were, after all, busy making wood while I was out shopping.) We ended our evening with a nice dinner out – the type of dinner that mama’s of small kids rarely get.
The day was full of a lot of laughs from all of our silliness, and I’m not talking about polite little giggles, I’m talking about the gasping-for-air belly laughs that have you nearly peeing in your pants—those laughs. The three of us had an entire day to spend with no obligations—there was no one asking for a snack or needing their diaper changed, there was no laundry to be folded or dishes to be put away. It was just us and the open road.
The morning after our trip I woke up eager to tell Collin all the funny stories and show the boys all I had brought home. As I pulled each item out of my bag I realized just how thankful I was: thankful for fresh donuts before church on Sunday morning, thankful for the re-supply of honey in my pantry, and thankful for the loads of squash and potatoes to be stored for winter, to name a few. But the things I was most thankful for weren’t found in the bag, they were found in my heart: quality time spent with good friends and a reminder that I’m still me.