May has always been one of my favorite months of the year. The weather (usually) begins to warm to the point where you can really tell that summer is just around the corner. Baseball season is in full swing, it marks the end of the school year, and the beginning of boating season. Memorial Day is my second-favorite holiday, and is always a great way to kick off a summer full of cookouts and sunburns. With blooming flowers dotting the landscape, and the deepening green of grass and trees, everything feels brand new. Perhaps that is why my affinity for May is so strong: it is about new beginnings. And in any situation where one thing ends and another begins (whether it's a season, the school year, or anything else), it is impossible not to look back and reflect on the events that just passed.
This time of year has always been a time for me to reflect on the year that was, and to look ahead toward the months to come. When I was a student, I always looked forward to the summer ahead, that fun that would be had, and the trouble in which my friends and I would invariably find ourselves. But, I'd also look back on the hundreds of memories we made in the school year we were leaving behind. And, with each passing year, the time only added more memories and more responsibility, which made the longing for those "easier times" all the more intense.
Despite the fact I'm all grown up now, I still find myself doing the same thing I did in those days. Perhaps it's the fact I'm a teacher now, so the month still marks the end of a school year. Or maybe it's the fact that old habits die hard, and I just can't seem to shake that part of me, no matter how far removed I find myself from it. In any event, I sit here now, looking back on the last 10 or 11 months, and am completely blown away at how markedly different things are now than they were last summer.
The elephant in the room, obviously, was my marrying Adrienne. If there were ever a life-changing event, that's it, and I look back on that day with so much joy that, even seven months later, I can still feel my heart pounding with excitement. It didn't take long to figure out I was going to marry Adrienne, but it was still an enormous change for the both of us. An incredible and amazing change, but change nonetheless. Regardless of how prepared for it you think you may be, the moment you say "I do," the life you had even earlier that morning is no longer the life you have afterward. But, it is the best feeling in the world.
My best friend DJ and his wife Amanda gave birth to a beautiful baby boy just a few weeks ago. Although the reality of it likely won't sink in until I finally meet the little guy, it's still really heavy to think about. Not long after Adrienne and I moved into our place in Mt. Sterling, DJ and Amanda came to visit. The last thing on any of our minds was a baby, in either case, and we spent the night playing cards and staying up entirely too late. Just a couple of weeks later, at my bachelor party, DJ and I were lying in bed trying to get some semblance of rest before a long day on the lake, when he dropped this bomb on me.
"You still awake?" He said.
"Yeah...What's up?" I asked, expecting a funny story from earlier in the night that I might have missed, or, perhaps, a recent change at his job of which I had been unaware.
"Amanda's pregnant," he said, rather matter-of-factly, given the circumstances.
I sat there for a moment, completely stunned, and unsure of what to say next. "Are you serious?" I said, as if he had just told me Santa's sleigh had been spotted over Chicago.
"Yeah...Just found out yesterday."
So, we sat there for a while, talking about what the future might hold for the two of them. He was obviously scared to death, but in an excited kind of way. It was the absolute last thing on the planet I had expected to hear at my bachelor party, and a part of me was admittedly saddened. Not at all for them...I was, and am, genuinely excited for them to the point I could burst. But, upon the initial news, I could feel a bit of my past slipping away. DJ and I have been best friends since we were 8 years old, and when something like that happens, you instantly realize that things are different forever. It was sad, and scary, and exciting, and incredible all in one moment. And now...Carter is here. It's just crazy to think how quickly it all happened.
Adrienne and I moved three hours from any family. I wrote a post about moving shortly after we arrived, and the excitement and hesitancy that all carried...I wrote about how it feels like an opportunity to start over, and how I looked forward to what the future held for us. Now, though, I feel more guilt than anything. It is no secret that Adrienne didn't really want to come here, and I can't say, with all honesty, that I really wanted to either. But, we were a young couple about to get married, we both got teaching jobs here (something that couldn't be said about anywhere else), and it just made logical sense to make the move. But, seeing her struggle through the first several months was incredibly difficult to bear, for both of us, and made me feel awful for seemingly dragging her along. She would never even begin to blame me, and I love her for that, but it doesn't really change how I felt for a long time. As the year progressed, it was obvious she began to grow more comfortable and accustomed to all the change, and that offered some comfort. But, I also know, her heart has never really been here, and I can say the same thing. We just never really felt at home here.
That being said, deep down I feel like it has been a good experience for us, at least in the long run. We've been forced to deal with overwhelming change with no one to lean on but one another, and I know that will pay big dividends for us and our relationship as we progress through life. I feel like the difficulties we faced in the first several months we were here have helped prepare us for any number of unfortunate scenarios we may face later. At the very least, we'll be close to family, which would make anything easier to handle.
Looking back on the last several months, that is the biggest change for me. Before this year, I had spent 8 more living 4 hours from my family, and had grown accustomed to it. I still got homesick from time to time, but those times grew fewer and far between as more time passed. But then Lensey gave birth to Lydia in November 2011. I grew extremely close with Adrienne's family and came to love them just like my own. I never really said so to Adrienne, but I began to miss home more than I ever have in my life. I guess part of it was because I was trying so hard to make things work here. I wanted us to set out on our own, and create our own life together. I wanted to make the transition as easy on her as possible, and felt if I expressed the same emotion, I'd just make it more difficult and easier to say "to hell with it," and just leave. So, I put up a tough facade and bottled it away, just trying to buy time. But now, I can honestly say that I absolutely can't wait to get out of here and close to our families. My family may still be a couple of hours away, but after being here, that is nothing. Adrienne and I talk about it often...If we wake up on a Sunday morning and want to go to my parents' house just to visit for a few hours, we'll be able to. Now, we have to plan a trip weeks in advance, and hope something doesn't come up that would prevent us from going.
So, now, this time of year marks yet another new beginning for Adrienne and I. Things are still a bit up in the air, but we both know, at the very least, we want to be with family. Having that support system will help ease any difficulties we'll face, and we'll both be happy. Which, we've both come to realize, is more important than just about anything else. The last year has brought a boatload of change, and it's surreal to think about it now. But, as is always the case with May, a new beginning is upon us and I know we couldn't be more excited to see how different things are this time next year.