Apologies for the long hiatus. I have been attending to a certain special nephew:
He's precious, truly the sweetest little man I know, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to disconnect from my regular life for five days and just focus on his new life. To say that being around a baby fills you with a sense of wonder at the world doesn't even start to explain it. You really get to see things through their eyes, and because most every experience is a new one for them, you get to remember what that feels like. Suffice it to say that every cliche thing I could say right now is begging to be said, but I'll spare you.
Now I'm back in my small, blue house feeling many conflicting emotions about "being back." Going home gets increasingly more strange the older I get. Talk about seeing things with "new eyes"! I am not sure I've ever fully acknowledged how charming my hometown it is. Almost all the homes are beautiful brick structures. Sturdy, classic architecture fills the town. Driving through town is almost serene, definitely relaxed and easy. I could never see myself living there as an adult, but I am now struck by what a charmed childhood I led. Biking around the neighborhood with my little gang of other children; playing kick-the-can and hide-n-go-seek; catching fireflies in the summer with my bff down the block. I may have grown up in a suburb, but when I think back on my childhood I realize how much I was a "free-range kid." I had the freedom to explore and dream and flourish.
I think I really realized this even more when talking with Colten's mom (my future sister-in-law) about places they could raise Colten. My brother and Nicole don't want to stay in Arizona or have him go through school there, but they are having a difficult time deciding what place would have the community they desire. The community they desire, I realize, is a lot of what I experienced growing up.They want to be friends with their neighbors (like we did), and feel safe letting Colten take off on his bicycle down the block (like I did). They want good schools that they can walk to (yup, I did that too) and activities that are family-centered (I just think on all the days I spent at the park or the pool or the rink or the...) They want so many things that make the place you live your home and not just some place on a map that you belong to. I hope they can find a community and town like the one I grew up in. I hope it still exists.
So now I return to the home I've created, which is quite a different thing than the home you are born into. And, I admit, whenever I return I can't help but question if I've chosen well. I returned feeling a little lonely, aware my community has changed a lot in the last few years and that I was longing for something I wasn't finding on my return, but that wasn't so easy to put into simple terms.