This one time is time enough only to stay planted for a life time OR to wander around and end up in paradise.
Although I might disagree with “this one time” being truly our only one chance at life on earth, I was really stuck by this line, written by an old acquaintance, comparing her life living abroad to her father’s living in one town for much of his life. I grew up somewhat wander-y, and am surprised to realize that I’ve been living in the same place–not house, but general location–for seven years now. Very surprised. Of course a lot of stability-engendering things (grad school, kids, home-buying) have happened in those seven years. With having kids, I have thought a lot about how I wanted ours to grow up. I’ve always had a this romantic notion that I wanted my kids to grow up in one house, that we’d chart their growth with pencil marks on a door jamb, that summers would be full of cookouts with the neighbors, and that the kids would have wonderful, lifelong friends living only blocks away. A few weeks ago, our neighbors across the street moved away. It made me realize that they were the only family in the neighborhood that we ever spoke to, and that it had been nearly a year since we had them over. I’ve not once marked up a door jamb with a height line. And in our neighborhood, even if we were to stay here, enough people will be moving in and out that it’s pretty unlikely that our kids will have “lifelong friends” from the area.
The other event that has had me questioning my romantic notions of home and roots is our trip to Turkey. My husband’s family has roots, and even more than roots, branches. They are connected and interwoven among the generations and siblings and cousins in a way that I never have been. And while it does require a shift in thinking about how loyalities and alliances and space/time planning should go–it is much simpler to think about these things in relation to a nuclear family of 4 than in relation to a family as large as ours–I wouldn’t trade our large family for anything. They are the ones we will have cookouts with. They are the lifelong friends for my children.
So, this summer I have really been questioning the whys of living where we are. Although I love our house, love that we (in large part) built it with our own hands, that we picked the bathroom tile, designed the floor plan, painted, put up curtains, and (now!) have planted a garden–and in many ways it would break my heart to leave this house we have worked so hard to make a home, in the end “home” will come with us wherever we go. And I can always pick out new tile, and see it as a good thing, to be able to reinvent our conception of home and how we breathe life into that idea and flesh it out into walls and floors and paint colors.