At the last minute, we were given the rare opportunity (this year, anyhow) for my husband to unexpectedly take some time from work. And somehow, ever the great researcher, Andrew pulled together a trip with some super-bargain flights and off-season car and home rentals for a family of five in record time. He never ceases to amaze me in his trip-planning skills (I have absolutely nothing to do with any of it).
Wanting to desperately escape this ever-present heat here (which has yet to break — and I am thinking it never will), we headed back to Breckenridge, Colorado, where we spent a week earlier this summer and loved. A quick flight for us and another chance to visit some wonderful family in the area whom our children and I have just gotten to know — Andrew’s Grandparents — were the location-deciding factors. (Andrew and his family are all native Coloradans.) Plus, it was my birthday week and I am a lover of Autumn — the real deal Autumn, that is — and my thoughtful husband knows this.
It always takes me awhile to adjust to the altitude (our cabin was at 9,800 feet) but once I did it was a lovely week of color, shape and fresh air. We took our ‘home’ school on the road and did some learning outside (they are always learning), Eithne particularly interested in drawing the landscape around her. We hiked a bit around the trails next to our cabin and further up the mountain, but most of our walking was in pretty short clips, with an almost-two-year-old not wanting to be carried (“NO! I walk, mama!”). She held her own pretty well most of the time, but she’s still only a baby, so we kept things short and sweet for all involved.
We visited an old railroad and a pioneer museum engineered towards children and we all learned a whole lot. Many of the things we saw actually reminded me of furniture and antique items my parents owned when I was younger and living at home, even though that was in upstate New York. (I know– pretty big difference between NY and CO. But I do miss all the antiques and interesting bits and bobs you can find in New England…. I miss a whole lot about ‘home’.)
This trip came at a remarkably helpful time in a significant way: The day before we left, we were told where we would be moving in December. Usually folks are given 6 months notice, but not these days– we have a very short window in which to prepare. So our week away gave us time to process everything, to make plans and to come together as a family, because frankly, I had wanted to stay here for a variety of reasons (though I know I have often commented negatively on the insects and heat–but every place has negatives as well as positives). Mostly I wanted to stay here to catch our breath from a most intense stretch of time (and because I really like our house and my midwife). But it was and is not to be and so we press onto the next chapter, adventuring through this life together hand in hand, trusting God to provide yet again.
So from Germany to South Carolina to Texas to…… Washington, DC!! in 1.5 years time. A whole lot of household moves, indeed. Four different cities, four different homes in a year and a half!– a whole lot of work, of starting over and of traveling pretty great distances with small children. But it is a great assignment for us and we are so thankful to not be caught up in or assigned to many other things that could be so much harder for us. And we are so thankful to be back with dear friends, close to our families, back to the four seasons, back to maybe some violin playing for me (!), and back to a great place to explore (for free) as a homeschooling family.
I know that home is where your people are and where love is, but it is sometimes hard for me to ignore the importance of actual location. Still as an adult, twenty years after I left my childhood home, I think of upstate NY as ‘home’. When I see the Catskill Mountains or the Hudson River, or anywhere in New England I know that I am ‘home’. And for me, this returning to Washington, DC in two months is a bit like returning to my second home, having lived there for 6 years as a professional violinist, pre-marriage and children. But I grieve for my children who do not know place or a steady, unchanging community (other than Zeb who remembers his first five years of life in Germany). They are not fully aware of it (yet) and do not know what they are missing, but I do. Some days I think that perhaps they are gaining something I did not have in being rooted to a place? Surely they are true international, global citizens — which counts for something, I know. And it goes without saying that they have seen and experienced more of the world in their short lives than most grown adults ever do. It is just so very different from how I was raised or how I ever envisioned raising a family, and of course, every mother worries about these things for her children.
So the challenges of making another home loom on the horizon — all the wonder of it and all the bone-deep commitment required for big change. The Colorado vistas and fall colors and fresh air of this past week reminded me that beauty is everywhere in this world and that happiness, for me, for all of us, is being with the people we so deeply love– and that for my little ones, home is truly wherever we are as a family.