Late Winter, 1979
Honey, I’m getting the feeling we need to move away from here. I’m not sure where to, calmly stated my husband Dave.
Okay, what’s up? I asked, as if he’d said, I’m not sleeping well lately.
Sean’s school isn’t right for him… I’m not sure Lexington will keep being a fit for us… I dunno, just a strong feeling.
Okay, I sure get the part about Sean, let’s ask for signs. (Smiling) Where to go would be useful too.
In Sean’s Rockbridge County School kindergarten and first grade classrooms, the teachers had discouraged questions from this inquisitive child, scolded because he didn’t say “Mam” or “Sir” with every sentence. (I was from California and Dave from New Jersey, so Yes Mam, No Sir, weren’t in our home-teaching of good manners.) The children teased or maligned him for not believing in the Devil, which Sean must have denounced when the subject arose. No one wanted to answer his probing questions: When people are buried after they die, how do they eat? Why do I need to figure out the math problem that way on paper, when I do it faster this way in my head?
We didn’t believe that a child should be seen and not heard, should never question the teacher and definitely didn’t find it annoying or rebellious that he had knowledge and curiosity that was not part of the curriculum for his grade level. Understandingly, the teachers felt threatened by this extraverted, inquisitive child, but his self-esteem was sinking fast.
Dave and I have always trusted each other’s intuition, no matter how whacky it might seem. So, we started listening for clues, asking for Guidance, and meanwhile saying nothing to anyone. I mean, what do you say to “normal” people?
Uhhhh…We’re thinking of moving to somewhere, no idea where, and get school jobs or maybe something different, no idea what. Oh, we have three small children, you say. Well true – six and under.
Obviously, we listened without getting friends’ or family’s input. We were already the weirdos on the block. As Joanie, the lacrosse trainer’s wife asked, When I knocked on the door today, your daughter said you were meditating, please come later. Is that just what you tell them when you disappear in the bedroom, or do you really do that?
There were a few people of like-mind in our weekly meditation group. The eight of us had shared the Seth Books by Jane Roberts, meditated of course, and were now trying to make meaningful sense of A Course in Miracles. Other than that, Dave taught fifth grade in the public school in town, and I worked as part-time speech therapist, stayed home much of the time with the children and taught Adult Basic Education two nights a week. We had wonderful friends and delightful neighbors (with whom we didn’t discuss our philosophical and spiritual perspectives on life.)
Synchronicities, signs about moving, began to appear. At a three-family dinner one evening, for example, two people randomly mentioned Chapel Hill. (We had to ask what state it was in.) A week or two later, our friends John and Sue Payne in Virginia Beach called to say that they intended to visit Chapel Hill to see whether to put their children in the Friend’s School there. We decided to explore the place too. After a couple of phone conversations, we made plans to meet. Their children and ours were already good buddies, so we forecast it be a good weekend, no matter whether it answered our questions about the destination of our move or not.
As soon as the sign “Entering Chapel Hill” appeared, I blurted out, This is it! I just know it! This really is!
Dave, ever the calm one, a Taurus after all, said softly, What do you say we look around first, then decide?
We both burst out laughing.
Yes, we checked out Carolina Friends School and Friends Meeting and went by the Wholistic Health Center to read the bulletin board, did the same in a tiny health-food store and found other ways to clandestinely research the alternative communities and groups in the area! Success! There were lots of our kind of people in Chapel Hill and its neighboring town of Carrboro.
On the way home that Sunday, Dave, smiling slightly, said, I feel it too. This is our new home!
A week or two later…
Dave developed a bulging disc in his back and was bedridden for a couple of weeks. Our bodies are such barometers to hidden feelings. A back injury appearing suddenly without any apparent cause gave him lots of time to allow emotions and insights to arise. He had time to contemplate what the move was about for him.
We lived three miles out of town, which put us in the county school district. We could have moved into Lexington proper for a very different approach to Sean’s individuality, but Dave’s intuition was definitely not a local move. Neither was mine.
Dave also concluded that he wanted to make this his last year of teaching public school. Tired of the politics, the need for tough-guy discipline and the restrictions on creativity to favor curriculum, he wanted to create or find a totally different occupation.
Since I’d spent four years with the children, working tiny part-time jobs in teaching Basic Adult Education and having only two speech clients, I was happy to go back in to my profession full-time. I applied to the Chapel Hill/Carrboro School System. Every speech therapy job I had ever applied for had been mine for the asking. Somewhere during the spring, I went south for my interview, only to find out that the bureaucratic ruling required I have ASHA certification, which I had not needed with my Master’s Degree in all thirteen years of the work, in hospitals and convalescent hospitals or in schools in two countries and two states. To get that piece of paper now would be at least a year of hard study, including anatomy and other subjects I’d never use. Since the requirement was a state mandate, clearly, I was not going to work as a speech therapist.
The challenge increased in intensity. We had three young children to support, a move in the near future, and unknown careers for supporting the family. Intuitively, we both still felt compelled to make this move. We started telling neighbors and friends, who immediately pronounced us crazy. Dave put in his resignation papers for June when school concluded. His fifth graders, some of whom were my current or past speech students, went into mourning, as did their parents. In the midst of this cacophony of our emotions, we put our house on the market. Stay tuned for the intensity of that saga.