We dragged the Cuters from the mid-west to California and then left their lives behind when we moved to Arizona. When they protested, wondered, expressed dismay and were generally unhappy about leaving their friends, we told them that this was our life and when they got to be grown-ups they, too, could take that opportunity to ruin the lives of their children. But, for now, it was our turn to be the mean ones, and they had no choice in the matter.
Contrast this to the reaction of the people who bought our last home in California. A family of 4, the parents saw a bright future in the green hills of Marin. The 14 year old son, however, was not amused. No way. No how. After 2 weeks in their new (our old) home, they packed up, bag and baggage, and returned from whence they'd come, leaving the homestead empty for nearly 2 years until they could re-sell it.
No child should have that much power. Just imagine what he'll be like as a husband.......
I have been thinking about the meaning of home this week as I spend time here in the Bay Area. I met my faux-sister for a 3 hour lunch, back in my old home town. The meal was delicious and the conversation was simply scrumptious. We settled into our chairs and shared the details that email just can't capture. Though nearly 4 years have passed since we shared pizza and pilsner, it really made no difference. That is, until we had to say goodbye. I tried to stop them, but my tears just kept coming. There is something very comforting about spending time with the women with whom you raised your children. It's in the shorthand, the ellisions, the absence of explanations – you just know. We could have been sitting anyplace; with her by my side, I was home.
She and her husband are moving back to their roots next week, nearer to family and the sights and sounds which bred them. Moving home? They've been away for almost 4 decades, and their children, though 20-somethings well on their way to making productive lives in cities far from Marin, are having issues with their parents' change of venue. Faux-sister is factoring their pain into her joy, but her enthusiasm for decorating and planting and creating a new beginning on a double lot with a fish pond in the backyard and a 3 car garage …. well, after 20-some years in a 3 bedroom apartment, she's justifiably excited. Her kids will just have to deal with their pain.
We were in the process of selling our Marin manse during the Little Cuter's last summer before college. I loved that house for its expansive gardens and 270o views but mostly for the memories it held. The Little Cuter teetering down the hall in her first going to the dance high heels, TBG standing behind her watching his little girl transformed into a beautiful young woman. The Big Cuter carrying his sister from the kitchen to the living room one Christmas Eve when she was too sick to stand up and yet needed to leave Santa his cookies and milk beneath the tree. Eating pizza on the gorgeous wooden floors before the furniture arrived, savoring the space and the emptiness. Listening to my niece play the flute after returning from a sorrow-filled visit to an ailing Nannie, releasing the pain and the sadness on a flurry of improvisation. I lost it one afternoon when the realtor told me that the kids' posters had to come down “so that buyers can imagine their own stuff on your walls.” Sobbing on the front steps, I felt the Little Cuter's arms around me, comforting me, patting me, and then, fed up with my wallowing, taking my face in her hands and saying “MOM, it's only STUFF. And if STUFF is making you cry, then you really need to stop and remember what's important. We have love and that's coming with us wherever we live.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
Home is where your stuff is.... and your stuff is mostly those you love. The memories will come with you, if you let them.