The Ill-equipped Weekend

We knew, moving to Alabama, that making it work meant embracing novelty.  Not just the obvious, either.  We talked about this, how we should break out of our rut and seize the opportunity to live differently. New circumstances would mean new choices.

So, without the grinding 2-to-3 hour daily commute, Lifelongnewyorker vowed to do more in the evenings.  Take walks, go to the gym, read.

With Mr. NYer home during the week and able to take care of all the household chores, we’d devote weekends to recreation.

Turns out, it’s not that easy to change one’s old ways.  It takes conscious work, and we’re a bit distracted lately by a series of items both minor and not-so-minor.

This weekend, for instance, was forecast to be beautiful.  According to our plan (see above), we should have been off, exploring and having fun. Obstacles of all sorts littered our path.

First, it’s hard to get into the “let’s just set off and have fun” frame-of-mind when you’re anxious about getting the mortgage, buying the house, getting settled.  Not being able to predict how that situation is going to turn out turns out to be unsettling.  Being in Limbo, you might say “What the hey — let’s live it up.  Soon enough we’ll have our hands full with house stuff.”  But we felt more morose than merry.

Then, recall too,  loyal readers, that we are living in furnished rental housing and all our belongings are in storage.  When we put them in storage, we thought we’d be closing on our home by mid-March.  So we’re not exactly equipped for lots of fun.

Having all your stuff in storage presents dilemmas.   There is a tennis court in our complex.  Our tennis rackets are in storage.

Thinking about this weekend, Mr. NYer suggested hiking. My hiking boots?  In storage.

I suggested spending the weekend at the Gulf Coast beaches.  Bathing suits?  In a box somewhere.  Bikes?  In storage.

When I packed months ago, I had the foresight to take a few pairs of shorts and short-sleeved t-shirts, although I didn’t take spring shoes, skirts, dresses or anything else.  Mr. NYer, with only jeans and a single pair of trousers, resorted to a trip to Costco.  In search of a size 30 waist, he didn’t have many options.  The knee-length khakis he found are quite sporty.

Then there’s the problem of coming up with things to do.  During the workday (which, in the absence of a long commute, I have expanded to be about 10 hours long), I am too busy to get online and do research.  Our apartment is not equipped with wifi, so Mr. NYer must go to the local Panera Bread when he needs to go online.  Not conducive to leisurely research on Alabama tourism.

Last week, we drove in the rain, to Wetumpka.  I’d read that it was a charming town, with its very own meteor crater.  The drive brought us past some pretty unlovely scenery — big box stores, then run-down rural houses with five generations of cars in the yards.  Finally we wound up in Wetumpka and were underwhelmed.  Mr. NYer described it as “pretty depressing.”

That has left us leery of just setting out for a drive.

Then, finally, there’s the problem of Lifelongnewyorker’s toe.  A few years ago, arthritis in her right big toe created problems, and pain, with walking.  Over the course of two years she had a series of cortisone shots and finally surgery to restore the joint.  This helped considerably. In fact, that’s the only reason she and Mr. NYer were able to hike in Utah last fall.  The left foot showed signs of following suit, although in a more conventional way:  this toe has the bone spurs plus a bunion.  She went to her NY doctor in the fall and he advised her to wait a little bit for the first cortisone shot.  But he added, “You’ll know when you need it.”

Well, I need it now.  Even if I had my hiking boots, I wouldn’t be able to walk a lot.  In fact, I haven’t been to the gym partly because of the toe.  The kind of flexing that happens with normal walking, climbing stairs, etc. is just not possible these days. Good news is that I’ve found an orthopedist who specializes in feet and ankles and he will see me Wednesday.  I am hoping he doesn’t recommend surgery right away. The cortisone shot isn’t fun, but it’s better than The Boot.

So with all these impediments, we didn’t go hiking this weekend, or to the beach, or very far afield.  We went to Selma instead, along Rte 80,  the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail.  This was the road taken by the voting rights marchers in 1965, and was also the site of the encampments in which many African Americans lived over the next few years after being evicted from their tenant farms (in retaliation for registering to vote).

The road and scenery were more attractive than the road to Wetumpka, with rolling hills, and occasional glimpses of the nearby Alabama River.  We drove through Lowndesboro, a town settled in the 1820s that still has many historic churches and homes.  Our attempt to visit the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, one of several museums devoted to the March, was foiled by water problems.  A sign on the door notified us that, because of a lack of water and restrooms, the Center was closed and would reopen Monday, as soon as the problem was fixed.

We traveled further west, to Holy Ground Battlefield state park,  where we took a short hike on a nature trail that abutted the Alabama river.  Despite the picnic area and boat launch, the park was sad.  Perhaps because it was once the home of many Creeks, and the site of a decisive battle in which they were defeated by superior forces.  Those who were left were later forced west in the Trail of Tears.

In Selma, we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and drove to the National Voting Rights Museum.  Only to discover that it had been moved.  But Selma is a lovely town, with lots of historic buildings and a commitment to preservation.  We walked a bit and took a driving tour and then stopped to stroll around the old cemetery.  As always, I was struck by the stark reality of child mortality in the 19th century, as grave after grave after grave from the same families gave sad witness to the fact.

From Selma, we drove to Cahawba, a “ghost town” that was the site of the state’s first capital.  As far as ghost towns go, we’ve seen better.  Back in the 1830s and 4os, many of the homes were moved 10 miles by  ox cart and relocated in Selma.  Pretty impressive.  Others were taken apart by brick scavengers, so there isn’t much in the way of ruins.  But there was one fascinating factoid:  two of the prominent families who settled the town were the Crocherons and the Perines.

They were from Staten Island.

I wonder how quickly they adjusted.

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3 Responses

  1. ..sorry..but this is just funny. Yes, I know,I know…the frustration is unsettling, the details, inconveniences, the unfinished business, the unknown…but picture it from my end;

    Two phenomenally intelligent, open-minded people with accomplishment, maturity and resources caught in barbs of logistical, meteorological challenges and incidental banana peels…all while eloquently narrating every slide, skid and thump.

    thanks!!

  2. Wonder if that’s the Crocheron family for whom Crocheron Avenue and Crocheron Park in Queens are named? (Guess where I’m from?!)

  3. We take ourselves with us wherever we go!

    You’re doing well to keep exploring possibilities.

    When we moved, after 6 months I started to feel settled, but it usually took a year to think of the new location as home.

    Carol

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