It’s 4:00 a.m., do you know where your anxiety is?  I do. Right here in bed with me.

This morning I was abruptly awake at 4 in the morning. As I walked toward the bathroom, the fatal you’re never going to go back to sleep now thought screamed through my head: “In about sixteen days, I’ll take the last walk to this bathroom for three to five years and maybe never again.”   That pretty much guarantees laying awake and staring at the ceiling till dawn. Thanks lizard brain.

I know that I have chosen to pick up and move. I know that I am very lucky to be able to pick up and move and sort and store and toss.  I know that in truth, life is actually very exciting right now. So why am I writing this blog entry about anxiety?

Because I am trying to keep a record of what it means to do something like this. A year ago, I read several ex-pat blogs so I might see what this vague concept might look like in reality. It was helpful to read other travelers’ experiences. In gratitude for their writings, I frame some of the entries here in the hope this blog might be useful to other future ex-pat wannabes. I want to write about all the emotions including the trivial ones.  I also hope that this blog might be useful to someone who is facing a different kind of journey in their life. I don’t know who reads this or when they read it or why they read it.

Yesterday was a day when the grand curtain of denial about the impending immediatcy of The Big Move was ripped off the rod in several pieces.  1) A great big For Rent sign appeared in the front lawn.  2) The property manager called, the first prospective renters want to see the house today at 4:00 p.m.  3)Yet another mover came by to inspect the stuff and spoke of starting to pack on Friday, October 19th. Which is now two weeks from today. Fourteen days.

We are so not ready. There’s the garden to put to bed, a cat to find a new home for (we have a strong possibility for him) a car to dispose of, papers to find, medicines to replace, blood pressure meds to order up, utilities to shut down…..and oh yes, an Ordination to plan and a Bible Study deadline coming right up.

Outside of the logistics, I am ready to go. I think we need to do this. I think it will be an amazing experience. Still, the reality is that in order to say Hello to this new thing we have to say Good-bye to the thing we have known. Normally, in my experience, when somebody moves they usually know where they are moving to. We don’t have an apartment and we won’t for a month or two or three after we arrive. So, all the stuff goes away in some truck. Part of it will disappear into a warehouse out by the Oakland Airport and part of it will enjoy a lovely ocean cruise along the coast of Mexico, through the Panama Canal, slide between Cuba and Puerto Rico and then set out across the Atlantic ocean to the north coast of Germany. I hope hurricane season is over. I hope we find an apartment before the ship comes in.

As we all know, four in the morning is a great time for anxiety about change to gather up all its energy and leap upon our brains. This morning’s anxiety was like a little dragon sitting on top of my forehead and slapping my face, “What are you Thinking?” It shouts at me in its tiny fierce voice that is so compelling. “You’re not ready!” it hisses. “How can you leave everything you know!? Do you understand? You’ll never sleep in this room again!”

“Silly dragon,” I thought as I snuggled back under my blankets. “Go away, you’re really not helpful and I want to go back to sleep.” I did my best to ignore the dragon like I ignore my cat when he thinks I’m awake enough to go feed him or get water and it worked. Somewhere around 4:30 or 4:45 a.m., I was back asleep dreaming about being doused with yellow paint in a shower in a shopping mall. Anxiety is so much more fun when its random odd dream symbols. At least I’m asleep.


One thought on “4:00 am

  1. Good blog. Loved the yellow paint dream.

    I’ve been asked to help put together and deliver the brief narrations interspersed in our Wintersong Concert (Portland Symphonic Choir). I came across a Winter Solstice poem I like and hope to use, and while your transition takes place well before the Winter Solstice, its allusion to leaving something behind and moving into something new echoes your thoughts. Plus, I think you’ll like the writing:


    As days shrink

    to the size of a small doorway,

    darkness dominates

    like a protective dome

    in the star arched sky.

    We frenzied town dwellers

    seek security

    in hyperactivity:

    buy bigger presents,

    indulge in more parties.

    Beyond the entrance we call Winter

    lies a quiet space, empty

    but for a single candle

    whose light increases

    as dreams and hopes

    fuel its incandescence.

    Step softly within

    where the calm communion

    of sitting with silence,

    shining with light

    brings long sought oneness.

    Kaaren Whitney

    Winter Solstice 2006


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