TRANSITION: Seven Weeks in Washington
TRANSITION: Seven Weeks in Washington
And we are finally wrapping up. I have been back in Georgia for four weeks, and now the work has stopped. Grandma is all settled in now that I have assembled the last piece of furniture from IKEA. What an adventure this has been.
In case you were not following via social media, I just returned from spending seven weeks in Washington state. Twas the city of Tacoma to be exact. Boy did I learn a lot. It all started 13 years ago. In 2003, my wife and her immediate family moved to Georgia. Grandma and Grandpa stayed in Washington. Last Fall, Grandpa passed away. With no family left in Washington, Grandma decided to move to the other corner – Georgia. It was not an easy decision. I am so proud of her. Moving 2,650 miles across the country is not your typical move. All transition is tough, but I learned that it is even more tough the older you are. Imagine living almost 60 years in one house, in one city. Now imagine moving to a completely different environment in your 80s. If that’s not culture shock, I don’t know what is. What a wild ride I was on. Nothing about this experience was typical for me. Like I said, I learned a lot. Here are a few of my observations from this seven-week adventure:
The Pacific Northwest Is Different From The Southeast.
Obviously, any place is different from the next. But Tacoma is quite different to me. The weather alone takes getting used to. The air is crisp and clean. I felt the need to take deep breaths to freshen my lungs. The sky is cloudy most days. It rains quite a bit, but its usually a light drizzle. Here is Georgia, when it rains, it pours. In Washington, rain is so constant that natives are accustomed to walking around without the use of umbrellas. I have been told that you can tell a tourist by the use of an umbrella. Most people wear some type of top with a hood attached. When the sun comes out, everyone comes out. The parks are filled, traffic takes over the streets, and you would think it was Spring Break.
I don’t know what it is, but there is a gloominess that permeates the city. I think its the weather, but I am not sure. The first few times I travelled there in the Summer and did not notice the glum. The past two times I visited in the Fall and Winter and I definitely noticed it. My mother-in-law also noticed. She said she did not realize it before. But since she has lived in Georgia for more than ten years, she says she notices a major difference. We actually had two people tell us that we stood out because of our southern hospitality.
Due to the move, we had meetings with different moving companies and estate sale agents. When they arrived, we greeted them at the door asking them how they were. One said they were taken aback because no native had ever asked that question. The other said my mother-in-law was the sweetest person she had met in a while. We conversed even more about it before they left the house. They were just enamored by our positive attitude and genuine care for their wellbeing. Eventually, we did encounter some joyful souls. Not everyone was down and out. I really enjoyed encountering a jovial young man at Safeway. My mother-in-law and I talked about how refreshing it was to meet him.
Another difference is the local lifestyle. Most people live, work and play within a 15 minute radius. Traveling 20-30 minutes away is considered a road trip. When I first met my wife, she told me that if someone was going to Seattle you would ask them to bring you something back. Here in Georgia, it is common to commute at least 30 minutes to work and play.
Given these differences, I like the Northwest. It became home after a while.
Separation Anxiety Became Real To Me
I knew I was going to be away from my wife and five-year-old daughter for at least four weeks, but I underestimated how hard it would be. I am already a big family man, but now I am even more so. Four weeks became seven and the distance was tortuous at times. After the third week is when it really hit me. I began to think, “I don’t know how military families do it. There must be a special dynamic there.” Shout out to military families who can deal with the distance. I have heard that some like it because it makes for an even greater reunion. Hey, good on you mate. That life is not for me. My wife, daughter and I each began to feel a little sad to be apart from each other. FaceTime and phone calls helped, but nothing compared to being together physically. Our reunion was pretty emotional. We hugged longer than ever before. There is a new appreciation for each other now.
Everyone Needs Help
Obviously, I was there to help Grandma get to Georgia with as little stress on her as possible. What I did not realize was how helpful I would be to others. The neighbors continually affirmed me for being such a great grandson that would help his grandmother. They come from a family that is not as close, so it gave them hope. I was also able to teach my mother-in-law quite a lot. She constantly had questions about technology. Most of all she commented on how impressed she was by my temperament, patience, decision making and optimistic approach to situations that may seem chaotic to others. I am realizing more and more that being yourself teaches more than trying to teach otherwise.
Atlanta Is Culture Shock To Most Pacific North-westerners
Everyone I talked to either associated Atlanta with humidity or the Dirty South. This was hilarious to me because my wife thought the same thing. When she lived in Tacoma, what she knew of Atlanta was the song Welcome to Atlanta and the group Outkast. I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone said “Hotlanta.” Most black people referred to the strong black neighborhoods in Georgia that do not exist in Tacoma. All in all, everyone loves to visit Atlanta.
Worship is a Must
Every Sunday, I either travelled to a church or streamed online. It gave me the extra push to make it through all of the intricacies of the trip. Three times, I visited the Kirkland campus of The City Church. The others, I streamed live services from Elevation Church. I have learned that there is nothing like being in the presence of fellow believers and worshiping God together. Whether for my benefit or someone else’s, it has been vital for me to get regular inspiration from the local church. When I would feel sad because of being away from my family, Sundays brought the smile back to my face. My faith was also strengthened while hearing God’s Word spoken over me. I encourage you to make it a priority to meet with God when you travel.
The Earth is a Beautiful Place
As an adventurer, I enjoy exploring new things, ideas and places. With so much time on my hands, due to waiting for the estate sale, I decided to check out some Washington hotspots. Most I had already visited, but never alone. I was able to sit, think and admire nature. Though Georgia has beautiful landscapes, you have to find them. One does not have to travel far to find an admirable view in Washington state. Below you can see images I captured. Simply click the image to enlarge it.