And of course, for whatever reason they come up with, no one ever wants to come to us or get together with other people as well and it's ridiculously frustrating and the main reason that despite having two weeks off between jobs I did not go home during that time. Thinking about it raised my blood pressure a few points and gave me anxiety. That's not healthy or OK. As is probably evident in that massive run on sentence! Phew.
This time though, things were different. I made it very clear that I was not going to be guilted in to spending 5 days driving all over the tri-state area after making the monster drive North of the Mason Dixon line. If people wanted to come to me, they could, but that people we have not seen since we moved 3 years ago, as well as time with our families and a solid day or two to just chill out (like an actual vacation!) took priority. Some people were offended; there were some text messages meant to make me feel badly about my decision, a few people even called me selfish for wanting a day to lay on the beach and I responded with the road runs South as well before presenting them with their very own Jersey State Bird.
You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take the Jersey out of the girl.
And despite some consternation and passive aggressive bullshit, I'm pleased to say this was hands down, the best trip we've ever made home. The lesson learned here? Boundaries! Set them. Stick to them. Don't take guilt. I'm going to get that tattooed on my forearm so I remember to do the same in my day to day life, but that's another story.
We left for the North on the Wednesday afternoon before the Solstice, driving North on a long, boring stretch of highway. Things were uneventful; Joe and Luna were curled up together snoozing in the passenger seat as I drove through Virginia, Killjoys playing on the stereo. I was lost in thought, which here really means worry, about a plethora of things: the trip itself, seeing friends I've not spoken to in years, how Luna would do with all the fuss and strangers, truckers driving too close to me, shitty friends in the South, myself. I was in deep, and I remember fingering the Mercury dime I carry with me while I travel thinking, "Hermes, I just need to know it'll all be OK. I know that's a cheesy request, one I haven't made of you since I was a girl, but I feel so wound up and fretful I can barely stand it anymore."
And then the heavens opened up and it poured so hard that I could barely see 15 feet in front of me as my tiny car slowly climbed the mountains. I was all dour and grumpy, turned the radio up some more, griped at Luna for whining and drove onward. And just as quickly as it started, the rain stopped and there was this:
The first rainbow I've seen in over a year, breaking through the dark clouds right in front of me. Some people aren't quick to see or believe in signs, but I'm not those people. For me, that rainbow, and the three others I saw after each burst of heavy rain, were the warm 'hug' that I needed from the Divine. A pat on the shoulder and a nice cup of tea that told me not to worry, because it will all be ok. There was so much Magic in the Virginia mountains on this trip for me and I never had to leave my car to experience it. I merely basked in the glow of the sunlight as it slanted in that odd way that is has right before a large storm and drove onward, singing. Head cleared.
A few hours, more rain showers and some dark roads later we landed at my mother's house to sleep. In the morning we were awoken by my niece, Khloe (who is now 2 years and a few months old - where did all that time go?!?) saying 'Hello' and playing with Luna. It never ceases to amaze me how gentle Luna is with kids, despite her extremely energetic personality.
We spent the day with my sister and niece before going to visit Joe's parents and sisters at his childhood home. Driving the short 20 minutes between the houses made us both so homesick for the landscape as we passed several lakes bordering winding hilly roads that are shaded by large oaks and maple trees. There's something so magical and comforting about the thickness of the tree canopy there that's missing here in South Carolina.
That, and driving anywhere makes me want to claw my eyes out as all the roads are flat and straight and bordered with red clay and scrubby pines. But, I digress. The fact that New Jersey is so beautiful (a well kept secret from those who don't live there, honestly) makes every place else seem sort of 'blah' to me.
Lake by Joe's parents' house.
While we visited with them, his dad and I went over some of my Geneology because he loves to do that sort of thing and I've always been completely clueless about my heritage on my mother's side of the family. Dad's half Irish and half Ukrainian (explains a bit about me, doesn't it?) but whenever I've asked my mother or my grandmother about their ancestry I've always been met with 'who cares' or 'I don't know'. Well, we were able to dig as far back as the mid 1700's fairly easily before the trail went cold and there's something very, very interesting to note:
Between the mid 1700's to present, my family has lived in Northern New Jersey. From what we could find I am one of, if not the first, in my mother's direct family line to leave the state in over 300 years. I jokingly told Joe that from now on when I discuss heritage I'm going to say 1/4 Irish, 1/4 Ukrainian and 1/2 Jersey. I also, not as jokingly - honest-, told him that should we ever have kids I'm going to have to travel back to the 'Homeland' to give birth because I'm somehow sure if I do it elsewhere I'm going to bring some sort of curse (like chicken feet) on to my bloodline. It was interesting to rifle through all the old documents and get as far as we did and made this girl even more fiercely proud to be from New Jersey. (He did, in the last few weeks track back further and found that at least part of my mother's family hails from Germany with a couple of years spent in Canada sprinkled in between Europe and The U.S. for extra interest.)
For Solstice, I spent the evening with a friend while Joe went to meet his brothers for dinner. She and I went to one of my most dearly held spots in North Jersey Sunrise Mountain, to watch the sun set on the Longest Day. The energy on the mountain top was incredible, it moved my heart in a much needed way and allowed me to know that despite my lack of ritual, workings or other trappings that I'm in the right place on my path right now. I smiled at mighty Sun as the wind whipped my hair then turned to watch his sister, Moon rise up behind us swollen nearly to full. It was hazy, but still a breathtaking view as the two did their eternal dance.
We walked back down the craggy path to our car in the twilight, careful not to fall or lose our footings. A simple, yet deeply meaningful way to acknowledge the Solstice. Yet more magic in the mountains for this Witch, but this time, in the Mountains of my heart.