So glad I’ve been able to find a few.
You know who you are. 😉
Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.
And this is where the words get stuck. It’s getting late, the kids are barely in bed, my eyes are heavy, and I just can’t get my brain to cooperate and put these swirling thoughts in any sort of sensible order.
If you want to know the truth of it, I’ve got New York on the brain. We booked tickets for a trip this summer. It will be our first trip out East since Richie & Diane’s house was sold, since we wrapped up the details of the estate and said our goodbyes. I think we’ve sort of been avoiding a trip because we both know it’s going to be hard–going for a visit and not having the old house to go back to. And honestly it’s been easier than it should have been to avoid the trip. We’ve just been so busy. Isn’t that always a great excuse?
But now we’re going. It’s going to be fun, because we’re heading back to Concordia for a Band Bash reunion. Stevie’s getting some of the old bandmates back together, and we’re excited to see everyone and be back on campus for awhile and to get a chance to tap back into the place we love so much and miss every day.
Every damn day.
But it’s always bittersweet to go back too. I mean, we’re not surprised. We’ve been 12 years gone. But somehow everything has changed and nothing has changed. We just left yesterday, but we’ve been gone a lifetime.
And even if it’s a little painful, it’s always good to go back. It’s a homecoming. I crane my neck to catch that first glimpse of New York City in the tiny airplane window, and my heart keeps a beat every time.
And walking around campus–that place where I celebrated the best days and survived the worst days and learned more about myself than any other place before or since–I always get this feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, surrounded by the people who love me and supported me and taught me how to be my very best self.
Let the countdown begin.
We signed Henry up for Happy Feet winter soccer this year. Cadence was a little older when we first found the league. She was always the social butterfly and excited to meet new people and try new things, so she dove right in and loved it immediately. The winter league is awesome because it gives the kids an opportunity to run off some of the excess energy that comes from being cooped up in the house in the frigid winter months. And since Henry was finally old enough this year and has been doing so well with his swim lessons, we figured we’d sign him up.
We figured it might be hit or miss with H-man. He’s been kicking things around the house since he started walking, and even used to practice soccer moves with Cadence when she was still active in the YMCA league. But he’s also our shy guy–quiet, introverted, slow to warm up to new people and experiences. Technically, his first practice should have been last week, but he was down with the stomach bug. Today, he seemed excited when we got him dressed and grabbed his new soccer ball to head out the door.
We were excited to see some kids from school, and Henry was having a blast kicking the ball around with me and Cadence before all the kids arrived and the coaches called the teams together to start practice.
Our big mistake today was not getting H-man down for a nap. This dude is a rock star sleeper, and he still needs a little midday nap to keep him sane (to keep all of us sane). He definitely should have had one after being up late and getting so wound up with our dinner guests last night. At one point around midnight, he was talking in his sleep to Beebe. Then, he woke himself up, yelled for Stevie, and demanded a fresh cup of water. We heard him talking and meowing to his stuffed cat for 10 minutes or so before he finally fell back asleep.
But no such luck napping today. Henry’s game started at 2:00, and he had about 20 minutes of excitement in him. After that, he spent most of the time walking around the floor in a daze, occasionally kicking at the ball as it rolled by or taking off in a momentary sprint. But he’d get distracted every time the ball left his orbit or one of the other kids tripped and fell down on the floor. He spent half of the game hovering near his coach, occasionally holding her hand as they followed the ball and the crowd of other kids up and down the floor.
My favorite moment? When he saw one of his friends fall down and made a beeline over to help. Seeing Henry take the other boy’s hand and call over to tell us his friend was okay…this Momma’s heart melted. I honestly don’t care if Henry kicked that ball or scored a goal today. I don’t care if his team won. If he learned something, if he had fun, if he showed kindness to his teammates and respect to his coaches and opponents–that’s all that really matters.
It was a good day. 🙂
And next week, we’ll see what difference a good nap will make.
There was a time in my life when I avoided people, relationships of just about any kind. I’m an introvert by nature, but this was different. I didn’t trust people, and I was filled with so much self-loathing and self-doubt that I believed it was easier to just keep everyone at arm’s distance than to risk getting close and getting hurt.
During my years in therapy, one of the biggest challenges was for me to trust people, to let them in, because I had trouble matching up what other people saw in me with what I saw in myself. I had to spend a lot of time building up my own self-image, learn to love myself and let other people love me. One of the results was that I started to view relationships and human connection differently.
Letting people in. Trusting them. Connecting. Building relationships. Loving other humans. These things can be hard, but they are so worth it. They’re vital. They’re the reason we’re all bumping around on this blue-green planet in the first place. And the really beautiful thing that happens when you connect with other people is that just being in their presence, hearing their voices, spending an evening together sharing a meal sparks immeasurable joy.
Family is not bound by blood. Family is the people you choose to surround yourself with, the people you love and invest your time in. Stevie and I have loved ones spread all over the country–from New York to Arizona to Colorado and Washington state–and we do what we can to connect. We don’t do as much as we would like to, or have nearly enough time with all the people who mean the world to us. But sometimes there are moments like tonight, when we get a chance to spend an evening with some really beautiful souls. My home was full of love tonight, and my heart is too.
I spend a lot of time reflecting on my college days, partly because I spend my days working with college students and partly because I tend to start feeling a little sentimental every time Stevie and I have been away from New York too long and I start itching to spend time with the people I miss every moment of every single day since we left the east coast ten-and-a-half years ago.
It’s hard to explain the connection I feel to this place without sounding overly nostalgic, but I always feel the need to try. I guess that’s just the writer in me–unable to deny that urge to try and put the giant surge of emotions down on paper and arrange the words in a way that might explain the way this place calls to me and why I remain so firmly tethered to the people we met and the connections I made there.
Going to college was my first step (a giant 1,500-mile step) away from my family and out on my own, and with that heady rush of newfound freedom and adventure came an almost paralyzing sense of self-doubt and isolation. Yet the first time I ever stepped foot on Concordia’s campus, I got the distinct feeling that I was coming home.
The families we come from are our default. They teach us how to love, how to fight, how to forgive. They give us our first sense of the world–its beauty and its chaos. The families we leave when we set out on our own will always be with us. They will always be part of us. But it’s the families we create for ourselves that truly reflect who we are and give shape to who we will become. The people we connect with, the people we return to and invest our time in are the people who reflect the very best of who we are, the very best of who we hope to be.
People matter. Connections matter. Kindness matters. Honesty matters. Love matters.
Everything else is just noise.