Friday, October 25, 2013

The End of Year...In October

Normally people reflect on the year just past in the months of November, December, or January. This October, though, we rapidly approach our family's first year away from Albuquerque, the city in which we truly became a family, not just a couple, but by undergoing the metamorphosis that transformed us into people within a web of community. Part of that, of course, involved the birth and rearing of two children. Another piece included six years of professional development as a pediatrician and physician for me, and also personal development as a homesteader. Sunny underwent graduate school, wrote a lot of grants and did research, and also became a father. We made countless friends. By investing heavily in time spent in our community, we became familiar and friendly enough that local businesses, fellow farmers' markets attendees, and local geeks all knew part of our family by name and chatted with us convivially.

Then we moved away.

I still feel all the missing and broken connections. My older child still asks when we are going to move home. He misses when we had friends over at least three times weekly, by accident. Albuquerque farmers' markets are in parks; you can shop and then stay while the kids roam, making and forging alliances for the day, to be remade next week. Without that, we've spent a lot more time indoors. Mom and Dad are commuting; we spend more than twice the time in the car than we used to. We've lost our garden.

Minh with Pumpkin at Trader Joe's
I used to read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle every spring in preparation for starting my garden, but without a garden or dirt I could plant in, I dispiritedly let that personal tradition go. I tried vermicomposting, but was so frustrated with what little the worms could handle that I gave up on it and left it to the kids. In the summer, I stopped a local CSA subscription, irritated with a whiny newsletter and prices that were much higher than local organic produce at the farmers' market, and found myself buying everything, even a pumpkin for carving, at Trader Joe's. We started a small laying flock this summer; I've regarded them as a smelly nuisance even though it was my idea. When our station wagon died, we even replaced it with an SUV.

I decided a few weeks ago to take back the conversations I was developing for my children and my family. Art, sustainable family lifestyle, local food and business relationships, and time together as a family without cars or media devices. Even though San Diego has made it harder, those projects are still worth doing; for my personal happiness, for the children's interest and education, and for sustainability in the larger world.