After packing Conner, our dog off to San Diego to stay with my sister, Reed and I hiked in Clifton Gorge, a state nature preserve where dogs are not allowed. I try to follow rules, most of the time! The gorge made me pause to think about how short and precious my time is on this planet. The exposed rock dates back 430 million years when Ohio was covered by a warm and shallow sea (like the Bahamas, the pamphlet says) and holds many fossils. Jump ahead millions of years to the glacier period, a mere 18,000 years ago, which was followed by the period of warming. The run off from the melt cut a narrow channel through the rock. That runoff is now called the Little Miami River. Due to the chilly temperatures, it was dressed up with frozen waterfalls and along the river’s edge, plates of ice fringed by icicles, quite spectacular in the early morning sunshine. The millenniums of interplay of hard and softer rock (Dolomite and sandstone) caused large chunks of the harder variety to break off. One of the more famous is Steamboat, named by locals a mere 100 years ago. Those locals worked at a paper mill. Now, the only evidence of the mill are the bricks of the smoke stack and the remains of an access road which became a hiking trail. The Shawnee, or may be even Daniel Boone, if you believe the legends, and all the four-leggeds and two-leggeds who wandered through have left little evidence.
This brings me around to the point of this piece my precious short time on this planet–a wink of time. That awareness has helped me make decisions about how to spend what I have left. Reed and I are moving.
The loft I have rented for the past four years in Dayton is growing empty as I sort through my stuff. What evidence to keep, what to pass on, what to shed. Reed joined me about a year ago after leaving and sorting through his own belongings in a 4000 square foot house. As we chose his or mine to take to the next stop, I am shedding. It feels good to travel light.
I am not a pack rat, and I am still amazed at what can accumulate over the years. I’ve discarded grade school report cards. Looked lovingly at high school art projects, then put them in the paper recycling bin. Read a few college papers with interest–that is what I was thinking about back then. I sent a nephew his Baptismal invitation and script as well as a first grade photo with his carefully printed name. The Victorian couch that my grandfather bought from a furniture store on the Montgomery County Fairgrounds property for my grandmother when my mother was born, found a home at a photography studio. The fair is no longer at the Fairgrounds which was recently bought by the local hospital system and the University of Dayton. I also discarded ribbons from that fair entries: art and baked goods, along with recalled dizzying memories of fair smells, food, and masses of people.
Jacob and Sarah, my niece and nephew selected family treasures that I have been caring for: my great-grandmother’s spinning wheel and my grandfather’s old thread box used to store socks or ties. They are building their homes, I am paring down.
I will travel with less than 50 pounds to the Middle East, and store a pared down version of our joint belongings for three months. Part of what I carry is stored on the cloud: my working draft of the novel, Mission Palestine, curriculums and documents that might be helpful to faculty in the Department of Family Medicine at An-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine. How differently we travel these days.
Why Palestine you ask? It is a rather crazy place these days. We just re-watched the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia (or Aurance of Arabia, “L” is not a common sound in Arabic) and were reminded of the challenges back then.
My answer: Life is short, I better be doing what I want. 2017 was my year to figure that out. At this stage of life, what really matters? After deciding to resign at Wright State, then hiking the Camino de Santiago, I reviewed and interviewed for a variety of job opportunities. At this juncture, I decided to work part-time to pursue my writing and follow my international heart. In Nablus I will be a volunteer visiting professor under the auspices of the UK group: Foundation for the International Development of Family Medicine in Palestine. There mission is:
- Providing international support for the development and implementation of family medicine in Palestine
- Improving the morale and self-esteem of Palestinian family medicine health care professionals through provision of solidarity, relief of isolation and involvement in the wider international family medicine community.
Travel and lodging are supported by Medical Aid for Palestinians. Without children and now a partner who is willing to adventure with me, I see this as an opportunity to come up alongside and give back, to make a little difference in a tough place. Sure there is lots to do in the US, in Ohio and in Dayton, but I have the flexibility to go. When I return, I will take a part-time job at Brown University. Rhode Island gives Reed better geography than the Midwest, can provide ocean and mountains, and easy access to flights/trains and New York, Boston, etc.
New beginnings, the next chapter in our lives, it will be an adventure and I hope you choose to check the box below to follow this blog where I will be posting about what we see, hear, taste and experience. We are leaving Dayton but take with us cherished memories and the love and care of so many of you. Thank you!