My daughter reminded me on Facebook that four years ago now I blogged about my husband and I spending Labor Day at Navy Pier in Chicago. She wondered what I would be writing about this Labor Day from our new home in Sioux Falls.
Well, it’s this. My life has changed. It’s not been my own since we moved here. As I recently told an old friend, my life is not all about me anymore. As a retiree living in downtown Chicago, with a husband who grocery shopped and cooked, my days were my own to walk, shop, read, take classes, hang out at coffee shops, or flop on my couch whenever I pleased.
Since my arrival two months ago, I’ve been getting settled, which means unpacking, organizing, buying stuff needed to make our new home ours. Marv has been busy making things we need for the house. And making dinners. Our kids are remodeling and have been without a kitchen for the last few months, so dinner is often here.
Imagine that change alone. In Chicago, we ate dinner sitting in our recliners watching Scott Pelley. Now we eat at the table with our daughter and her husband and our two grandchildren. There is no quiet. There is the crescendo of excited chatter over who gets to sit by grandma or grandpa or who gets to put on the napkins, or who gets to pour milk.
When I tell folks where we moved from, every single time I get an expression such as, “Oh my.” I acknowledge their surprise and say, “I don’t even try to compare. Life here is too different.”
But, of course, I do compare. And in doing so, the image of my granddaughter doing cartwheels in my living room continues to haunt me. It was during the Olympics, when our grandkids stayed overnight for the first time; my granddaughter, who has taken gymnastics, competed with Simone Biles. For the springboard to her floor routine, she used our long hallway to approach my living room at high speed.
My aging heart was not prepared. As a nurse, I imagined injury upon injury, from abrasions to sprains to fractures. What would I do if there was an emergency? Did 9-1-1 work in South Dakota?
I survived. Even after her younger brother joined her by sandwiching his somersaults between her cartwheels.
But I haven’t been able to get rid of the cartwheel image; a 7-year-old spinning vertically, left leg over right, over and over, in my direct line of sight, whirling like shiny spokes in a bicycle wheel.
Then, timed perfectly, I read an essay by Mary Nilsen on the Collegeville Institute’s website. Titled The Transformative Power of Metaphor, I learned that an image that sticks in your mind may metaphorically represent something in your life. That’s it, I thought. My new-to-me life feels like I’m spinning end over end like a cartwheel, and I’m on a springboard toward nailing the perfect landing in Sioux Falls.