As I have mentioned, Eric is in Jacksonville now for Teach for America Institute, which is essentially super intensive training (as it would have to be, to teach people to be teachers in just six weeks!). He left just a few days after we returned from our road trip - four weeks ago already. He will be finished two weeks from tomorrow.
His days have been jam-packed the entire time. He wakes up around 5:15 a.m. each morning and doesn't get home until 6:30 p.m. or so, although sometimes required events and activities run later into the evening. When he gets home he has virtually no free time, as he has to lesson plan and do other such "homework," which often takes him until after midnight. Frankly, I don't know how he is surviving on such little sleep and staying sane.
During this time he has basically been student teaching high school geometry at a Duval County high school, and it has been quite an experience. I think it was a bit of an adjustment for him to flip the switch from presenting in true "NYC corporate lawyer" fashion to really relating to the kids and teaching in an engaging way, but he figured that out right away and did a great job of quickly adjusting his approach. I think it is really good for him to be in this situation that is so unlike what he has done before. It brings new challenges for him, ones that he is totally up for but certainly couldn't get in his former profession. Eric really thrives and excels when he's challenged so I'm really excited to see the "new Eric" as a full-time teacher come fall.
Not only has Eric been working hard at learning an entire new career, but he has been spending his weekends searching for a perfect home for us. We were hoping to rent a house, but unfortunately we haven't had much luck in finding a perfect house for our little family. So, it looks like we'll be back in an apartment for the time being, but Eric has found us a great option. The unit is very spacious, with so much closet space I nearly died and went to heaven (a far cry from our cramped, storage-impaired Hoboken apartment), and even a full-sized washer and dryer in-unit. I like the layout, and the complex has a number of pools including one large main resort-style pool with a kiddie pool! There are also playgrounds and a dog park on the property, so it sounds like there will be something for everyone. Plus, it is only a short drive from both the beach and downtown Jacksonville, so the location is great. This weekend Eric will check another couple possible apartments, but assuming none top this one, we've found our new home. Hopefully we'll have a lease signed by the end of the weekend, with a tentative planned move-in date of July 31 - less than three weeks away!
As for where Eric will actually be working in the fall, that is still a little up in the air. Teach for America guarantees everyone will be hired by a school, but it sounds like there has been a lot of upheaval in the Duval County School System and it has taken a bit longer than we expected to get Eric's placement nailed down. But, he has an interview this morning with a high school that is actually within 10-15 minutes from the apartment we're leaning towards. What a great commute that would be! I'm eager to get both our home and Eric's placement figured out so we can really start picturing how this will all look.
As for Ellie and me back at home, things have been challenging. At first, everything was going really well. When I first thought to write this post, it was back in the first few days after Eric left, and I was all prepared to boast about how seamlessly Ellie and I were settling into our Eric-less routine. I missed him like crazy, that's for sure, and I certainly MUCH prefer life with Eric around than not, but Ellie and I were sort of in our own groove, just doing our thing and keeping our eye on the prize, and we were okay.
But then, right after Eric came home for a visit after two weeks away, it's like we flipped a switch. Ellie seems to be going through some sort of regression right now - her sleep is all messed up (refusing to nap in ways she hasn't done in over six months, waking up at night again, waking up earlier in the morning, etc.) and eating has become a battle, too (in addition to refusing to try new foods, she's starting to refuse some of the staples I know she likes). It has been incredibly frustrating. I don't know if it's that she's still working on getting her molars, or she's missing Eric, or some other option that I haven't even thought of, or some combination of any or all of the above. But whatever it is, it's really leaving me discouraged.
Poor, disgruntled Ellie airing her grievances to her daddy via FaceTime
Also, Achilles seems to also have regressed and his behavior has been atrocious for a while now. He seems to have abandoned much of the good behavior we taught him back in New York, and is acting out on top of that. It's nothing towards the baby, thank goodness, but I spend much of my time yelling at him and wondering what he's going to do next. I know he's not getting molars, so I'm left to entertain a whole new set of possible causes for this behavioral shift. Again, whatever the reason, it's adding a whole other level of stress that I'd rather not be dealing with at all, but especially not in Eric's absence.
A happy moment with the crazy kids
So it has been hard. The kids are leaving me stressed, tired and frustrated, plus I miss Eric like crazy. I was far more shaken up when he went back to Jacksonville after his weekend visit home than I was when he left the first time, I think because now I know what it really means for him to be gone and it sucks. Not only are we physically separated, but he has been so busy that we have had much less time to even talk than I would like. I miss having him around just to talk to. And not only do I miss Eric, but I am so anxious to get to Jacksonville and get this next chapter started already. I'm ready to have our own place, furnished with our own things, in our own new city that is just begging to be explored. I'm ready to develop our new routines, figure out our new life and really make Jacksonville our new home. Basically, I'm extremely antsy and just want to get this show on the road.
I still get asked quite frequently if I miss New York. The answer is painfully so. There are times when I miss New York so much that thinking about it literally makes me nauseous. I have moved a fair bit in my life, and I have missed my former homes before, but never to the point of actually feeling physically ill at the thought of it. So mostly I just try not to think of it. Still. Six months later. Healthy coping skills, I've got 'em!
But in talking to Eric a few days ago, I realized that what I miss about New York isn't even so much New York itself. Obviously New York is a fantastic place, one unlike any other, a city that I love with all my heart and soul. I just fell in love with it during our time there and that city gave me so many unbelievable experiences and memories to cherish. But the other thing about New York is that it was the first place that Eric and I really made our home. We loved living in D.C. together, but we were still in school then, and planning our wedding/first-year newlyweds, and still very much in transition. In New York, however, we let ourselves get settled. We developed favorite spots and were always on the go, enjoying the city and each other. We made our apartments our homes, we hosted lots of guests, we showed off our city to friends and family. We developed our own traditions and ways of life. We started to figure out our identity as a married couple and eventually even added our first child to the mix. In short, we became a family. And New York was an enormous part of that growth into the family we are today. To be separated from it feels like something is missing. It's hard to have left our home.
But I know that home was only our first, and Jacksonville will be our home now. I don't have any doubt that New York will always hold a very tender spot in my heart, and I will probably always feel a little tug on the heartstrings when I see or hear something having to do with "my" city. However, we are a family now, and I'm incredibly excited to see how our family identity adapts to life in Jacksonville and how we make this new city our own. I can't wait to get there and start building family memories in this new place. I think it's going to be wonderful.
So that's the State of the W. Household, essentially. I'll update more as we get details (apartment, job, etc.) nailed down. In the meantime, Eric will keep working hard and Ellie and I will keep on keeping busy to pass the time. We're so close to the real start of our next adventure, I can almost taste it!