The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. I hold a strong disdain for winter, but, despite the weather, the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day does not fit into that mold for me. Houses are decorated all over the place with lights and wreaths, Christmas trees are visible in windows at night, and we get to spend time with family whom we don't often see throughout the year. We can dote gifts on loved ones, and get to enjoy delicious meals. It really is a wonderful time of year.
It's also busy. The last six weeks for Adrienne and I have been an unbelievable whirlwind of activity and travel. Since mid-November, we have made the trip to Marshall County five times: once for my niece Lydia's birthday, Thanksgiving, my nephew Rylan's birthday, and twice for Christmas. Adrienne came down with the flu in mid-December, and at the same time, I suffered a full tear of my Achilles tendon and had to undergo surgery on December 19th. With all that going on, it has been almost impossible to just sit back and breathe (even though I've done little more than sit back since the injury).
Then, to top it off, New Year's Eve came and went as it tends to do, and here we are in the first week of 2015. It is almost impossible not to spend time reflecting upon the year that was, and, for someone like me, almost impossible not to fall into a bit of a depression. The past year was a good one, for a variety of reasons. But despite that, and the promise of a new year, I always feel sad around this time.
As I've said, I hate winter. That certainly plays a role in my melancholy mood. But it's more than that. With the holidays and all the time spent with family, the last two or three months have always been spent with something to look forward to. And now...The only things to look forward to feel like they are miles away. I like to use markers as a way to navigate the doldrums of January and February...The start of Spring Training, my birthday on February 24th, umpire meetings that let me know spring is right around the corner...But this year? I get a cast cut off my leg on January 28th just to get a boot. My birthday will be my 30th (which is nothing but a scary reminder of how quickly time is passing me by), and because I won't be recovered from my injury until high school baseball season is all but over, umpiring is as good as done for the year.
In addition to that, my nature is one to dwell on the past. Sometimes that is undoubtedly a blessing, but sometimes it is a curse. Adrienne and I spent the majority of New Year's Day talking about happy moments from when we first met. We talked about our wedding day, our honeymoon, and how we truly missed seeing the Avetts on New Year's Eve like we had done the previous two years. While they were happy memories that make us smile, it's sad to know those moments are gone and only exist now in photos and still-frames in our own minds.
Then, as we were driving back today from the last of our trips to my hometown, Adrienne turned to me and asked, "Are you happy in Glasgow?" I was taken aback by the question, because I thought it was rather ridiculous. "Of course I'm happy...Why would you ask me that?" I replied.
"I don't know...Every time we go to your home, you always seem sad to leave, like you'd rather be there."
And, I must admit...To a degree, she's right. I do get sad when the time comes to leave my parents' house. I love being able to go home where everything is familiar, and I know virtually every face I see. But, that doesn't mean I'm unhappy here and want to pack up and move there. That's also not to say that if our lives carried us to a time and place where that was best for us, I wouldn't do it. It just means I'm human and I get homesick from time to time. I miss out on seeing my niece and nephew, who seem to change overnight when I'm not there. I miss being at the house where I grew from a little boy to a young man. I miss my old dog Maggie.
So, how do I know it's just a simple case of homesickness and not something more severe, like a significant sense of unhappiness? Well...Because, when the two and a half hour drive ends, and we walk into our home (the home I love walking into), and we fall back into a sense of normalcy and routine, that feeling of sadness starts to fade. I remember that all the years I spent there led me to this place and this time, and I look around my living room at all the pictures of Adrienne and I. I see the smiles on our faces, specifically hers, and I think about the year we spent in Mt. Sterling and how that beautiful smile of hers was almost absent during that time. I think about how happy I know she is here, and how her happiness is the single most important thing in my life. And I think about the fact that anytime that sinking feeling of homesickness begins to build up in my stomach, when the only thing that will make me feel better is the wagging tail of Maggie, the warm embrace of my mother, or my dad sitting in the recliner next to me, I can hop in the car and make the short drive. Sure, I'll be sad when I leave, but I'm not unhappy.
Adrienne quickly retracted her question and reworded it,
"Satisfied...Maybe that's the better way of putting it. Are you
I thought for a second before I replied. The answer wasn't a simple yes or no. It rarely is.
now? No...At this exact moment I'm not satisfied with every single
aspect of my life. But who is? Who is satisfied every second of every
day with EVERYTHING?"
This isn't meant to be some depressing, woe-is-me narrative about how much better my life was or could be if ______ were to or had happened. I love my life. I love my wife, I love our dogs, I love our home, and I know the grass most certainly wouldn't be greener on the other side. I've been on the other side, and, while there, I always wondered about the color of the grass elsewhere.
I think it is simply a reflection on my nature. For those of you that know me well, you know I am generally a happy person. I am generally satisfied with virtually everything in my life...At least everything that is important. Today? Nah...Not really. But that's life. Forgive me if I speak for all of us, but sometimes we just find ourselves wanting to be somewhere else...In time, or maybe place. But that doesn't mean we're unhappy or dissatisfied. It just means we've lived a life that has been so great and joyful that the few times, like today, when nothing fun or happy seems to be on the horizon, are all the more dreary. But it also means we'll wake up tomorrow, start our lives all over again, and find that joy and happiness in places of which we're not yet even aware. Who wouldn't be satisfied with that?