I have moved many times in my life. I think this is my 17th time without counting dorm rooms or an apartment here or there. True, many of you have moved significantly more times than that, but I also know of others who grew up living in one home and now have raised their own family in that same home.
This partial move to St Paul is my third time to return to Minnesota: the first time was when I was a junior in high school; the next time was when my husband finished medical school in St Louis, and we returned to Minnesota for his residency. We stayed here, although in two different homes, until we moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, when our son was a sophomore in high school and our daughter in college.
And now it is the third move back to Minnesota. Amazingly, our new home is almost exactly 5 blocks from our first house in St Paul--the home where we brought our baby girl home from the hospital.
We have come full circle.
I admit I have felt some melancholy as I anticipated this move. When we moved to this neighborhood the first time--we were 26 and about to have our first child--our whole life stretched out in front of us. And now most of our life is behind us. We are not done by any means. I know that and look forward to so much, but even so, I look back on many more years than I can imagine in front of me.
In a way, I feel as if we have been on a pilgrimage, a heroic journey, and now we return, although perhaps not in glory, and there certainly have been wounds and battles fought and losses along the way, some never to be recovered. However, I have a sense of having fulfilled our promises to each other, and now we can go home. Yes, there are still obstacles on the path to overcome, especially since the Wisconsin house has not sold, but we have experienced worse. We know ourselves better than we did in the past, so we can handle this time too. It's worth it.
Experiencing the Reason
The main part of this partial move occurred the day after Thanksgiving, and how delighted we were to see how easily and quickly the grands felt at home here. Almost immediately Peter and Maren discovered a closet on the half story level of the house where my office is now located. Forget using that as a closet for out-of season clothes, for it is now their clubhouse/fort. "GrandNan, do you have tape? Scissors? Paper?" Peter had brought his own crayons and started drawing pictures for the walls.
While Peter continued his decorating project, Maren curled up on the chaise in the sunporch to read, and neither of them were ready to leave with their parents when the time came. A few days later, they walked to The Little House, as Peter named it, from school, and my heart lifted as I saw them come up the walk. This is what this move is about.
I must admit I had not bonded with this house as quickly as Bruce did, for it has a teeny tiny kitchen and only a one car garage and a very small one at that. No fireplace, no front porch, no central air--all things on our list. However, this house has lots of charm, is in excellent condition, and the price was good. A key factor, however, is the location: three blocks away from the kids' school and another three from their house. We are in their loop of life!
Even though the desire to be back in St Paul has been present for a long time, I am not naive about life here being perfect. (For one thing it is SO COLD, as I write this.) I know I can't pick up all the pieces I left behind, and I know how necessary it is to create a new life here. Over the years I have grown weary of picking up, packing up, and settling in all over again. I get overwhelmed by all that needs to happen, especially since we have willingly and wisely made a decision to downsize in a major way, and by all that has not yet happened.
At the same time I am full of gratitude. I am so lucky to have lived in beautiful and interesting homes and places. I know how to make a house a home. Bruce and I do this well together and in fact, home seems to express the best of who we are in our lives together. This sweet home will be no exception. Indeed, this feels like a very creative time to me.
As I unpack yet another box and as the vision for this house becomes clearer, what is even clearer is the reason we are here.
When Maren and Peter come to the front door, I take a deep and easy breath and know I am truly home.
What has been your experience of coming full circle? Of returning home? What words of wisdom do you have for me? I would love to know what you learned.