I have called 13 places home since I was 18. (I’m 34.) Jeff and I have lived in 5 states since we joined paths at 21.
We’re not gypsies or even hippies. That would give us unearned cool points, the kind of points they quickly remove when you use the phrase “cool points”. I would love to share stories about backpacking through Tibet where we scaled mountains and greeted spiritual gurus, but those weren’t the kind of adventures we chose. Sure, like all free-spirited twenty-one year olds with a little money and a lot less direction, we talked about doing those kinds of things. Instead, after three months of what could only loosely be described as dating, we held each other’s hands, jumped off the cliff that was the safety and insanity of our families of origin, propelling ourselves, free-falling with sheer terror and overwhelming joy, into the atmosphere of adulthood, hopeful for an eventual soft landing someplace beautiful. We loaded a U-Haul trailer, combined our collegial possessions, and rented a house in suburban Savannah, GA. At the age of 22, we provisioned our lodging with a washer and dryer on the first Friday night of our cohabitation. At age 23, we embarked on the trail of homeownership. By age 26, we summited marriage, and, at 27, we were the first among our friends to explore the jungle that is parenthood.
Despite the utter boringness of spirit that led us to venture into ordinary suburban living rather than international travel- the kind of plainness so insidious that it manifests in beige walls and tan couches and completely white plates – for over a decade, we continued in the thrill of that initial free-fall, wondering where our eventual soft landing would be. We threw away perfectly spectacular existences to try life anew somewhere different, the change a bittersweet relief each time. The sadness to leave what we loved combined with the excitement of fresh beginnings always enticed us to move along rather than remain and endure. (Perhaps here is where I should confess that I, and not Jeff, am usually the impetus behind our moves.)
Enter children, school-age children.
Since our son Finn was born, we’ve moved 4 times. (He’s 6.) We’ve lived in our current home since October. He’s already begging for a new and different one. But now he’s in school, and not just the daycare that we dub “school” to appease my working-mother guilt - actual public school that we pay for with our taxes. He has friends in our town that aren’t just the children of our friends that we pretend are his friends - real friends whose parents we don’t even like.
And so, it seems it is time for us to land softly (and more permanently) in a beautiful place, for ourselves and for our children. We begin a new adventure by boldly remaining in one place for years, possibly even decades. My heart quickens at the challenge, and I gulp down a few big breaths!
We really have enjoyed some amazing adventures making our life together, deciding where to make our soft landing, where to call home. We didn’t undertake the kind of expeditions you’d read in Outdoor Magazine, but we learned simple, powerful, personal lessons about what it means to find home, plumeting through the universe with only one another until we got there. We’ve learned that kind neighbors make all the difference, that an old barn sign looks great in any house, and that living near the water speaks to our souls. And yes, you guessed it, like all who journeyed before us we found that home is wherever the four of us are together. There is a vivid thrill and a subtle, warm sense of accomplishment in discovering that we are joyful in our ordinary lives, no matter where we fall.
Jeff: Thank you for taking this jumping off that cliff with me, for enjoying the fall in all its wonder, and for always supporting our soft landing. I can love you anywhere.