Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Leaving Home

WARNING:Sentimental post ahead. Not that this should surprise you.


Yesterday I drove away from my chidlhood come in California. Unlike all of the other thousands of times I have pulled out of that driveway, I knew that this time was the last time I'd pull away from it as my house. And after thirty years of pulling away from this house as my house, it was quite a blow.

With my parents off on adventures of their own, which will ultimately lead them back to my part of the country, the last of my family connections to Northern CA are gone. I'm super excited that I'll get to have them closer, but the bitter next to the sweet is the fact that it also means cutting ties to my original community.

All weekend, on our farewell tour around town, my sister (who never cries) and I would tear up unexpectedly. We cried at things small--our favorite ice cream flavor (Chocolate Malted Crunch), the worlds best cream cheese (Walnut Raisin), and the hay and grain store we bought all the animals we'd then smuggle home(the latter mostly my sister's doing). We cried at things large--leaving the homes of people who have been more like family than friends.

We took pictures of everything.

**The view from my my driveway**

We tried to pretend that we'd have reasons to come back every six months like we'd been doing ever since college. But we all knew that with no remaining family there, it wasn't likely.

That's the double-edged sword of having roots. When you have to leave them behind, oh, does it hurt.

**Home is in the People. And in the view by the Bay.**

But I wouldn't trade it for anything. I wouldn't trade the idyllic main street, and the way this town made me feel safe. I wouldn't trade the roads I've driven so many times I know them bone deep. I wouldn't trade the hills whose rolling beauty speaks to me in a way most landscapes can't match. I wouldn't trade that there are so many people who have known me my entire life, and who I love like crazy. They are people who feel joy and sadness right along with me in the ups and downs of my life because they have been there for all of it. They can't wait to hear the updates and see my children and I love the closeness bred by decades of stability.

**Home is where the fog renders it cool (and windy!) in the summertime.**

I walked around my house and touched the places of so many memories: the doorstep of so many prom nights and late night talks. The basketball court of a thousand pick up games. The trampoline of a thousand sleepovers and choreography contests. The room where I stayed up doing algebra and talking to friends. The windows my sister taught me to climb out of when I was in timeout. The living room where we had wedding receptions and family reunions. The family room that housed Christmas magic and spontanoues theater productions over the years. The kitchen table of so many shared meals and conversations. The love the fairly radiates out of every corner of it.

Oh, it is magical.

I tossed and turned all night on Monday night. I think my body couldn't process that this was the last time I would sleep in my bed. But in the morning light, when I got up to catch our flight, I had three final thoughts as I walked away from a place that has helped to define me and provided a solid launching pad from where to go off into the world:

I hope the family buying this house knows exactly what kind of magic they are getting.

I hope I can give this kind of gift to my children.


The beauty of roots, I suppose, is that we never really leave them behind at all. They aren't cut off as if they never mattered. They find place deep inside of us, intertwined with the branches of our new journey. The substance of who we were, then, never too far separated from who we will become.


  1. I can't handle this!
    I think I have been in denial ever since my mom gave me the news that your parents would be selling their home. I just can't imagine the Wilson's not being 3 doors up. Who will we call to borrow eggs, or watch our animals for the weekend? If we get locked out of the house, where will we go? I won't see your dad out walking the dog in the evening. Even though I don't live on Marks Road anymore I will feel the void of the Wilson's not being there. I won't see your parents in the Alamo ward when we are home to visit. I took for granted those little things and will miss them more than I can say. It was always a joy when we ended up visiting home at the same time and would be able to catch up. I hope that you will still come to visit even though it won't be as often as every 6 months. When you do, you know that you can always stay at the Coons.

  2. I want to cry FOR you all! And who learned the smuggling animals things first--Mary or Joanna? I really think saying goodbye to Alamo is like a 1000 times more painful than what other people have to do when they grow up in other places. It's our very own Garden of Eden--that you have to pay a lot of money to live in.

    And what's up with the East having Rite Aids but not Thrifty's ice cream flavors?

    Where will your parents be moving to?

    Again, you have my condolences.

  3. It's amazing that places have such an effect on us. My parents operated a marina my entire existence. I went to work with my mother as a baby. I started cleaning boats at age 11. I was a dock hand, office worker, store attendant... And then the year I was married, they sold the business. It's located across the street from the house I grew up in. My grandmother's home was right next to it. It went with the sale. Less than a year after, the new owner bulldozed the precious antique building where boats were stored and the offices located. My grandmother's home stands vacant. It's such a sad place now. There were so many memories there. Sadly it doesn't exist anymore and so I'll never be able to show my children.

  4. I can't really let myself process the poignancy of this post. Too hard for me right now. The presence of your family will be missed, however with your parent's comings and goings in SLC maybe you will visit them here and I will see more of you (unless I have run away to NYC for the weekend...sorry 'bout that.) We grew up in a magical place during a magical time and it gives me a bit of heart wrenching nostalgia when I realize that it probably cannot ever be replicated. I will always be searching for it though. Your words took me back to the wonderland of our adolesence and made me miss you like crazy. Thank you for being such an integral part of my childhood. I love you my dear dear friend.

  5. Kate - I totally understand. In four weeks my husband of five years, our 1-year old boy and I are packing up everything and leaving Northern California. The reason? It's a good one: I'm going to medical school in Southern California. But we're leaving behind memories, the cute little town with the beautiful park where we said our vows, my son's grandparents, our friends... our support system. This house we're leaving wasn't a childhood home, but its walls tell the story of our engagement, our wedding, our marriage and bringing home our son. And in four short weeks, I'll never come home to this place again. It's hard to say goodbye.

    Thanks for your great blog. I really enjoy reading it!

  6. Kate I am glad you got to go and do that. It will be great to have mom and dad but I feel you on the pain of leaving your roots.

  7. Em--I know--being neighbors with you guys was one of the best parts of my childhood. I will definitley take you up on staying with your family at some point! :)
    Susie--Garden of Eden is right! They will be moving to SLC for a year and then we're not sure where they will be assigned. We need to start a a letter writing campaign to Rite Aid about the ice cream issue. :)
    Renae--sounds so lovely.
    Amberlyn--I think you are exactly right that it was the right magic at the right time. I, too, will always be searching. :) Miss and love you to the moon and back.
    Aurora--good luck on such an amazing journey!
    Sunny--we miss you guys.

  8. (1) Been there. It hurts. SO bittersweet.
    (2) Chocolate Malted Crunch is the BEST.


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