Friday, October 24, 2008

New mama on board

When people ask me where I�m from, I usually tell them that my husband Dan and I moved here from D.C. about three years ago.  Before that, we lived in Baltimore, where we went to college, met, and married.  But I grew up in Oregon, in a town nestled between three mountain ranges, Pacific saltwater in my veins.  It�s been almost ten years since I left the northwest, and a part of me will always think of it as home.

As for the Triangle - let�s just say we�re a work in progress.

Before our move to Durham, we were living in a sprawling apartment complex in one of the suburbs of D.C.  Dan had an hour-long commute to work; mine - on transportation ranging from the commuter rail to the subway, from metro bus to foot - was an hour and a half.  Days were long and stressful; we felt as though we never had time to relax or pursue other interests.  We spent many sleepless nights trying to ignore the shouts and yells coming from the Motel 6 parking lot behind our building.  I guess by comparison, the life of a graduate student and spouse in Durham, North Carolina sounded kind of nice.  Peaceful (if impoverished).  So when Dan was accepted to a PhD program at Duke, and the nonprofit organization for which I worked told me I could keep my job and telecommute from North Carolina, I said, Okay, sure, let�s go.

But alas, Durham and I never enjoyed a blissful honeymoon period.  I hesitate to point fingers, but it was really all my husband�s fault for insisting that we keep our second vehicle, a sketchy old Ford Tempo given to me by a friend for a dollar in 2003 (that�s about $500 now, for those of you who used to have investments).  I thought the Tempo probably wasn�t up for the drive to North Carolina in the high heat of summer, so we rented a trailer to tow it behind our Budget moving truck.  The trailer blew a tire on the Beltway, barely an hour into our journey, and we waited for five hours in hundred-degree heat for someone to come fix the tire, only to find that he�d brought the wrong size tire.  So much pain and suffering, for a car I hadn�t even wanted to keep.  As it was, we did finally manage to get all our vehicles and possessions to North Carolina, but the trailer never made it, Budget refused to refund us any money, and the moving caravan took an astonishing twelve hours from start to finish. 

We pulled into Durham sometime after midnight on Moving Day (properly, the day after Moving Day), and I thought, ugh, welcome �home.� A mere day later, during a late summer storm - it wasn�t even a big storm - a tree in our front yard fell on the Tempo, smashing in the roof. 

As any sane person would, I took this as an omen.  A sign from God that we never, ever should have moved here.

Things have improved a bit since then, thankfully.  Earlier this year Dan and I welcomed our beautiful daughter Abigail - our first and only child so far - who was born at the birth center in Chapel Hill.  She just turned eight months old, and is a busy, happy, extremely particular little drama queen who terrorizes our cats and makes life far more interesting than it used to be.

But the truth is, while I love my new life as Abby�s mama, I am still getting used to life in the Triangle.  I still find myself brought up short by things I ought to be used to by now - the heat and humidity, the nonexistent winter, the coffee shops that close too early, the sheer size of the towns here and how far apart they are, Durham�s bizarre freeway system.  I still feel as though I don�t know enough people, I�m not plugged in to all the cool local things to do, I�m missing some magical key that could unlock all the hidden mysteries in the Triangle and fill me with that feeling, that sense of homecoming.  I want to learn more about the area, and introduce my daughter - now eight months old - to its many opportunities.  I�m just not quite sure where to look first.

That�s why I�m so thrilled that Marty asked me to be a contributor here at Triangle Mamas.  Since we can�t hire a baby-sitter every night, I need to trade in some of my favorite late-night activities - shows, concerts, late movies - for family-friendly daytime ones. I�m highly motivated to seek out new friends and new experiences in this community, to make it more real, to make it my home.

Sure, I�ve been here for three years already.  But having a baby really does change everything; it gives you a new lease on life, a new excuse to explore your community, new eyes with which to view your world.  My eyes, like my daughter Abigail�s, are wide open.  I�m looking forward to getting to know all of you, benefiting from your wisdom, sharing my own mama stories, and making new memories in this, my new home.

An original Triangle Mamas post. Nikki is mother to the amazing Abigail and a free-lance writer who also blogs at A Small Song.

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