Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Home Again

So, we had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with my family. And, for the first time in a long time, 10 hours on the road with a 1-year-old was relaxing. I just had to force myself to do things a little differently...

When it was just Mark and I, we would leave whenever we got out of work to start the 5-hour trek to upstate New York. If we did that now, it'd mean leaving at E's pre-bed time and fighting to get her to sleep in the car.

Instead, we left Saturday morning, and she happily rode for hours, taking in the sights. The purpose of the drive wasn't "to get there." It was to enjoy a day in the car as a family -- singing songs, talking, playing games, and watching a movie. We made frequent stops to eat, to enjoy the ferry ride.

Both traveling days were rather zen and family-focused. It set the stage for the weekend as we visited on my parents' porch, took the kids to the park with my sister, went for walks, and ate cold cuts. Life went on as usual in New York, with us fitting into the daily routines as if we never moved to Vermont.

Last night, when I got home, my VT life greeted me with a slap in the face. Though I had cleaned the kitchen before we left, toys were strewn everywhere, and a laundry pile almost as tall as me glared at me as I walked in the door. Blech.

Today, I'm truly in a New York state of mind, where the houses are clean, windows are open to let in fresh air, and summer is washing over the town -- neighbors returning from camp, pedestrians lazily wandering to the park to lounge on a bench. I love my VT life, but NY is home.

On Sunday, my sister and I walked to another park on the other side of my parents' house. She explained to me how to get there, and I sought it out only to find that this was the park that I used to play at, when I was about 5 and we had just moved to town. Besides a new main play-structure, everything else was the same -- swings and jungle-gym. The metal was worn in the same places. Millions of children's hands must have gripped those bars, climbed and climbed, fallen, gotten up, then grown too old to climb just for the sake of climbing.

Hopscotch must not be as popular now, because no one had bothered to re-paint the lines and numbers on the court. I found just a faint outline of the number 10 then found myself wondering what comes after. At which moment exactly did it stop? On which day did I not reach for a rock and run back to 1?

Somedays I feel so much like a child, my life falling apart around me and not knowing how to pick up the pieces or where to put them. Yet, somehow I'm building it -- maybe awkwardly and crooked in places, and I see all the things I dreamed about or pretended -- on that very playground, in my life now -- a drive to work, a meal on the table, a husband, a daughter.

I can't help but find the beauty in my daughter skipping over the faint outline of the hop-scotch numbers, swinging, running in the grass, and yelling, "Go, go, go!"

And I tell myself, "While I'm lacking, she's growing. There's a bigger picture. Here's a glimpse. Jump to it. Hold on. Reach higher. Swing. Go, go, go."

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