Saturday, October 13, 2012

Finding a New Appreciation for a New Home

I am nearly 29 1/2 years old. By most standards such an age more than justifies my consideration as an adult. Yet there are still often times when I feel very childlike indeed and am keenly aware of how hard it is to grow up.

The past three weeks have been filled with adventure and much more will soon be coming concerning our exploration of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Virginia. But before I embark on an attempt to describe our trip I want to try and capture some of my current feelings.

The National Apple Festival
Alison and I have established a fun fall tradition in each of the three closest states to where we live: the National Apple Festival in Pennsylvania, the Lawyers Moonlight Corn Maze in Maryland, and driving and hiking in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  This year we got to share all three of our fall traditions with my Mom who spent this past week visiting Alison and I at our home in McLean. It was great fun and a wonderful introduction to fall. More detail will be coming soon. :)

Shenandoah National Park

The Corn Maze

We were able to spend a lot of time together, but Alison and I both had to go to work later in the week and I still had to go to class on Wednesday night. It was pretty funny to see my mother and my wife sitting at the table together when I walked in the door that night!

It also turns out that the visit from my Mom also brought to light a series of emotions I was not prepared for. It started yesterday afternoon when I took my Mom to the airport. This seemingly innocuous activity was actually quite a poignant moment. I wasn't aware of how significant the moment was until I went to drive away. I had just dropped off one of my parents after she came to visit me at my new home with my new wife. That was a very new experience. I have lived in a fair number of places in the past seven years (San Diego, CA: Oroville, CA: Hot Springs, SD: Washington, DC: Falls Church, VA: Luray, VA: and now McLean, VA) and at least one member of my family visited me in each of those locations. But in each instance I was living with other people and knew that my stay would be temporary. For the first time one of my parents came to visit me at the home that I have created with my new family. It was a strange feeling.

It really threw me off. It was a very simple action, but it felt like a pivotal moment in my life. Tomorrow Alison and I celebrate nine months of marriage. We have spent nearly all of that time away from either of our families (except for the few days after the honeymoon before we headed out on our cross-country drive from California to Virginia) and this visit from my Mom marked the first time we have seen any of our family members outside of the immediate context of the wedding. I hadn't really considered how significant that was until my Mom was leaving.

I was dropping my Mom off at the airport to fly across the country back to the place that I have considered to be home for over 29 years. I have lived in 16 different places since I left home to go to college in 2001. Each one has its own unique memories, but none have truly felt like home. No matter how normal it felt to go back to where I lived each night, home was always back in Phoenix. As I drove away from the airport, leaving my Mom behind, and returning to my wife I realized that something profound had changed. My mom was going home and I was going home... but we were not going to the same place.

So this is what it feels like to grow up...

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