At the moment I feel surprisingly disoriented. I’m in my teenage home but as a mother with my little kids. I’ve left my home for far away shores and yet find myself encountering childhood scene after childhood scene. And the unsettling pair of feelings which has become the familiar: excited anticipation twinned with trepidation.
Just like the big lake waves we’ve played in all week that shove you to shore while almost simultaneously pulling you back in, there are hidden currents in my mind. When we first got to Chicago, my mood was light. There was sunshine, happy grandkids and their grandparents, sleep to catch up on, the four of us together with no agenda, and warm, empty beaches. This felt just like one of the many short visits I’ve made home over the years, but somehow better. But then my normal 5-day visit stretched into 9 days, 10. We began another round of goodbyes, first to our longtime friends Paul and Tracy, who drove down from Detroit. We said goodbye to my mom and step-dad on Sunday. We said goodbye to my sister yesterday. We’ll say goodbye to my dad and step-mom tomorrow morning. The undertow suddenly pulls me down and away from shore.
It’s surprising how the full truth of something can remain hidden even as you talk about it endlessly and prepare for it tirelessly: the packing up, the giving away, the clearing out, the tearful goodbyes. How can I be so good at distraction as to become fully aware only within the last couple days that we’re not going back home. The kids and I were looking at some old home videos and as we browsed through them the very clear thought burned bright across the horizon of my consciousness: That is Our Old House. Cambridge isn’t home anymore. A different couple lives in our house. Two different children are sitting in the classroom chairs that our children would’ve occupied. The holes we left in our social circles are filling in and growing over. We’ve traded that life in for something else that we hope holds excitement and adventure for us. At the moment, our suitcases and each other’s faces are our only home.