Finding A Place by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

I didn’t realize, really, that finding “a place” in locale could take so long. We, my husband, daughter and I, moved to Prescott five years ago. Just recently, as fall unfolded, I finally feel settled.

Since we got here I have felt like Sisyphus, pushing a boulder uphill. Crabbiness has been my general demeanor. I have felt like I wanted to quit teaching. I was constantly looking on the internet late at night for jobs, housing and schools in other locations. Generally, I was unhappy and incredibly frustrated. And I have definitely been taking all this out on my husband.

So what’s different? First, I recently got hired at a third college institution here locally and they love me. Maybe I am not tired of teaching after all. There is a happy attitude wherever I go on this new campus. Staff and students say hi and generally, folks are relaxed. Maybe the college environment of my other main employer has been rubbing off on me. With budget cuts and departments closing due to outsourcing, a general malaise pervades the halls and most everyone is edgy.

Second, my daughter’s school moved into a permanent home. The new school is spacious and I am helping to make improvements. In that process, I am connecting with moms with whom I have a lot in common as we all work hard to really make this new school beautiful. The old school rental site was small and cramped and no matter how much energy went into fixing the place up, it just felt run down.

Third, my home feels homey. Except for needing a new master bed frame, my office is really comfortable, my daughter’s room is organized and pretty, the living room with a TV is inviting. My kitchen and dining area are just the way I want them, with shelves and personal things finally out of storage. And last week we put a craft work table out so that I could do sewing projects. My first project this week was to make a long costume skirt for a play my daughter was in on Friday. Now, I can actually do craft and sewing projects and not have a mess on my work desk or the kitchen table. Quite a luxury I must admit.

All of the above contributes to my sense of feeling like we are settled—that my home is my own. That my life is not chaos. Sometimes it can be hard to see what is contributing to one’s unhappiness. I have always had a sense that I need my home to be clean, organized and comfortable. But now I am seeing how much outside environment can impact how I feel as well.

Even though other major life changes are happening—as I deal with family issues about my father’s impending death and all that means—somehow my day to day environment has equalized. That feels pretty great. A sense of place has settled over me and I feel more peaceful for it.