I’m at war with myself over this page right now. I honestly thought about not posting it and just cutting right to the next page, but I think I’m actually going to leave it. I might do a sketch or two with some alternate views later today since I’ve had time to mull this page over the past week or so.

See, this chapter was planned with the five days a week update schedule in mind, so I was packing a lot of action into two weeks of updates at the beginning of the chapter, and this was supposed to be a mid-week “we’re safe, take a breath” page. A pause in all the action. A moment to reflect. I feel like, with the slower pace of pages though that I’ve had to take because of writing the Manga Studio book, this just falls flat and needs more. But it’s a pause that’s needed between the last page and the next, so I’m going to keep it in. I’m probably going to do some editing on it today though because looking at it with fresh eyes, I am really not happy with it. :/

Personal stuff under the cut, just thoughts on last week’s “vacation” to Tennessee.

I am glad to be back home after last week’s excursion to Tennessee. It was back-breaking work, trying to clean the stuff out of a house that about five generations have lived in for almost a century. But not only was it hard work physically, it was really hard mentally and emotionally too. There were fun parts to it, like joking around with my husband’s family, playing cards, and discovering some treasures. Nightly trips “in to town” to get wi-fi at one of only two places that offer it (the McDonald’s and the Krystal), the running joke that Tennessee didn’t want me to have anything to drink at restaurants because everywhere we went the hot chocolate or milkshake machines were all broken. There were quiet moments too that were happy: discovering that two fields over there were five horses that I could see from the fence or from the ramp of the U-haul that we rented (consequently making me volunteer to run out to the dumpster a lot, and also standing on the ramp staring out over the fields while waiting for more stuff to be brought out to load).

But of course there were a lot of sad moments. So many memories in that house, and I enjoyed hearing about them. I learned so much about the family that I’m married in to, about these people who love me like their own. Stories of childhood, of first dates and of playing and of family members that I’ve never met because they were gone by the time I came around. The stories about how the neighborhood boys put someone’s truck up in a tree, about how the house used to be part of a big farm and they had horses and a mule, and they used to smoke hams out in the smokehouse (which, by the way, we had to clean out, and that was a nightmare).

It was happy and sad and beautiful and ugly, all rolled in to one week of experiences. We got home Saturday and it’s honestly taken me this long to recover. I haven’t felt like myself for days, both because the trip was so taxing and, after something like this, it’s hard to just get back in to the routine, you know? I don’t know why I’m writing all this but it just felt like something that I needed to get out. Maybe to explain why I’ve been so quiet on social media the past week and a half or so, I guess? Anyway, it was a nice trip, in spots. And in other spots it was frustrating and heart-breaking and terrible, and I kept saying that no one else is allowed to die because I’m not doing this again. But it’s over now and the only thing left is for the two ladies that the family is working with to do the estate sale and then sell the house.

Drawn in Manga Studio EX4, Colored in Manga Studio 5