With just a few weeks left before we start school, I reflected (a bit self-pityingly, ugh) that we didn't really do anything family vacation-y. No beach trips or amusement parks or camping (laughing at the camping, because that is not us!). Oh, boo, first-world woes. I hate them. And I hated feeling sorry for us, however momentary, that there was no vacation for four--when we've had beautiful and memorable weekends poolside to spend together.
I looked at the calendar, and yesterday I took the kids out for a super surprise. These kinds of things make me a bit nervous, because my plans and their imaginations don't always line up. Disappointment can really kill a day trip.
Luckily, the kids weren't disappointed. I packed a big picnic lunch and lots of cold water. I grabbed my camera and the red-and-white-checkered table cloth. And we went off to my (really) old neighborhood--where I lived my childhood. We spent hours at the big park (which was on its third makeover at least!),
and took a train ride through the woods (which hadn't changed at all!),
and then went to the live butterfly exhibit. And this year--it was the absolute best time for all of us. One little girl there was crying and clinging to her mama, which reminded me of Lanie a few years ago. I looked at Lanie, and we remembered. But this year, Lanie was hopeful one would land upon her--and one did, to our delight.
|the kids' garden on the way to the butterfly exhibit|
|butterfly on Lanie|
Then we drove to my old neighborhood. I packed the kids' scooters so we could walk around the block. I wish I had walked slower.
|my first home|
"There's my house!" "That's where my school bus stop was!" "My neighbor Alouise lived here. I used to climb her fence to my back yard." "This is where I trick-or-treated." "That's the house I stopped and had to call my parents to pick me up because I couldn't make the walk home." "That's where the mailman lived." "I used to help Mrs. N do her gardening."
|Lanie and Erin on sidewalks|
I rang (my old) doorbell and waited. A woman answered, and I explained I used to live there a long time ago. She shrugged her shoulders apologetically and mumbled no hablo ingles. So I pulled out my 20+-year-old broken Spanish and butchered (more than) a few verbs and explained who I was and asked if I could take a picture of my kids in her yard. She said yes.
I lined them up to my photo memory of me and Mom on a first day of school over 30 years ago.
|my mom and me 1975-ish|
|Lanie and Erin 2012|
The front door opened and a man came out. I recognized him immediately. I turned to greet him and started to say, "Thank you for letting me do this. It means so much to me." And then I was crying (crier that I am) and hugging him. He bought that house 30 years ago this year and has called it home ever since. His (now grown) daughter lives across the street, raising her family.
I told my girls about how I'd play in the front yard. I knelt down and touched the soft grass. Looked at the massive trees still growing, and smaller ones that had replaced the former hulks. I have such a fond connection to that neighborhood. I've dreamed a million times of living there, and even yesterday, I wondered if there was ever a way to go back. (Shane said no.)
My family moved out of that house when I was thirteen, and it wasn't until my 30s that I ever felt I could call a place home (our last house).
When my friend Pete came out to visit us this summer, he mentioned (our current house) reminded him of his childhood. I learned we grew up in the same area, and I agreed and realized that that was probably one of many things that drew me to this house we're in--and why I feel such a strong and deep sense of home in it.
I'm so glad that that family is still there. So glad for a beautiful summery day to spend with my girls. Glad for that walk around the block. Glad for my (sometimes inappropriate) tears. Glad for the reminder to number days--so that silly pity of first-world woes doesn't rob me of the abundance in a rich and beautiful now.
I would never have traded yesterday for anything.