I don’t know where to begin because things have already begun. Summer. The fire flies blinking. We’re always in the beginning, the middle, the ending of something; our lives made up of this simultaneous stuff. Life, happening.
It happened fast and slow this time, and perhaps this, too, is the way things always happen. We’d been thinking for a while. Talking together, circling the idea. Talking with friends. Imagining ourselves somewhere other than this house, this place that has become home to us, that has made us the family that we are.
Because the thing is, when we moved here eight years ago I worked down the street at the local elementary school, and T worked from home. Bean was a rambunctious, curious, wee 18 month old. Life was radically different than it is now–with an 8 year old and a 4 year old and work that brings us both into Burlington almost every day.
Really it's the driving that swayed us. The drive to everything: to get milk, to pick up vacuum bags, to buy new sneakers or arugula or a copy of the New York Times, to drop off Bean at a play date, to go on a date, to go anywhere at all. It was the 45 minutes every morning of driving just to drop Bean off at school. 90 minutes round trip. The drive both of us make, one doing drop off, one doing pick up; the hours spent behind the wheel making long distance phone calls and listening to podcasts and radio or just the wind blowing in our ears.
Really, it’s because of the driving. The fact that we are always driving. That we spend more time in the car than anything else. Including here at home, among the wild fields of tall grass. And it’s that truth that finally, gradually hit us.
But also, we’ve gradually become a part of a community of creative, fun, incredible people who all live and work near Burlington, and we never ever see them on the weekends. There are no dinner parties. No after work drinks. No meeting friends after the kids are in bed. No casual play dates. It’s never worth the hour spent in transit.
The truth is we’ve outgrown this long dirt road, in a way neither of us imagined we might. We’re on the cusp of new things now. New directions, projects, adventures, discoveries.
The boys are all legs their hair long with summer; their elbows scraped. They walk down Church street ahead of us. They ride bikes without training wheels. They want to learn to skate board. They want access to a pool, to the lake, to friends, to the library, and all the things that come with living in a neighborhood instead of on a homestead.
And T and I? We want things. Some are clear: less driving. More time. And some still unnamed. Still undecided. We’ll rent for a year, if not more. Let our compass needle spin for a bit, until we find the right place.
Less driving. More time. It’s a simple equation really. With proximity to downtown every day will yield 180 minutes a day of untapped time. Imagine what could be done in that time!
Still, when we decided, it didn’t feel like we’d really decided. It felt like fiction. Like something we’d agreed to in a story. It seemed like the decision would take forever to be real. We expected a long summer of house showings. We expected having to met out the very thin reserves of patience we barely have. We expected haggling. We expected waiting things out. Instead it happened in a weekend. The right buyers. The people who will love this place harder and more and better than we have, if that’s possible. We’re so happy the found us.
In a weekend.
What happened next: I was euphoric. Then I wasn’t.
I panicked. I cried. I felt a thousand things. Uncertain, grateful, scared, self-doubting, anxious, exhausted, giddy, obsessive. Every rental we looked at was confusing. Yes and no. Pros and cons. Nothing felt like us. The us, of who we’ve become here. And even though I know that that is not the point. To continue being the same, following the same habits, fumbling for the same light switches, walking down the same hallways, the familiar has a hold I didn’t expect on me. And all I wanted was everything to be settled and certain.
I was unprepared for familiarity. For the longing of it. The animal tug of comfort. For the hungry way that habit pulls you back again and again. And feeling myself pulled this way, I felt betrayed. This wasn’t what I was supposed to feel. This was not what I’ve always said I feel, wanderlust running deep and blue in my veins, the one who always has an escape route planned, the one who wanders down unmarked roads for the sake of it, who is called by faraway cities.
It’s an unreconciled thing really. Familiarity and wildness. Wanderlust and roots. And it’s clear I’ve not made my peace with either.
Also, kids complicate things. Apartments without yards for these country boys would be the death knell. A place in the Old North End that I would love, tucked between an African market and a honeysuckle hedge, is fraught with obstacles when it comes to their innocent big eyes. Across the street the Labor Ready place where people stand about listlessly for hours, tossing cigarette butts to the curb; radios playing non-stop; an the endless stream of traffic stop and go at the light. To me, it’s all material; all story. But to them?
Sprout will hardly remember this place as home. 4 is only the beginning of memory. The beginning of time transferred from short term to long term for safe keeping. For him it’s not leaving that will matter, it’s where we go that will count. But Bean will remember, sensitive and big-eyed. He’s torn about moving. Excited, eager, and then suddenly sad.
Really, home is us, but more than that it is here.
It’s the 4 of us, and who we are becoming. Our dreams, caught like fishes in the nets of our imaginations and reeled into the nearness of the present tense. Our lives, like a series of stop-motion films. One day happening and then the next together marked by the countless meals and walks and loads of laundry that make up the weft of our lives.
It took mea going alone to the top of a mountain to reconcile everything: the glee, the possibility, the devastation, the exhaustion, the responsibility, the opportunity, the hurdles. It too letting the birds eye view from up there fill my soul. It took lying and listening to the wind. It took list writing, and remembering. And then hiking back down.
Then the next day we found a perfect little place to rent. For now. For this year. Suburban. With a creek. And sidewalks. Kid-friendly biking distance to the farmers market, the library, the park, the lake. A place to transition in. To acclimate. To find ourselves becoming something else. Something new.
So, it’s likely things will get a whole lot more adventurous around here, and saying that makes me see how habitual I’ve become in the way I see and record the moments. How for-granted everything is. The road with it’s wild raspberries. The mail boxes. The neighbor’s pond. And the house, with our steep stairs and red wood stove and our kitchen island around which life pivots: pancakes, coffee, sandwiches, noodles, toast, markers, legos, experiments, to-go lunches, magazines, love.
This will be a summer drenched in nostalgia and lasts. I’m planning on recording and sharing them here, so we can remember when we’ve moved on. So we can live each moment twice. Boxes packed and the door flung wide to the wild blue. It’s bitter sweet and thrilling, all at once.