Truly, the last month has been a bit of a blur, and I’ve been feeling fairly lost.
We took a road trip at the end of February. I’ve been feeling the need for my girls to connect with my grandparents, and with a dear sorority sister getting married in Philadelphia, we made it a family adventure.
My children explored the same house and yard where I spent so many of my early years, playing with the same toys and bells my grandparents let all of us play with. Their home even smells the same. We rolled down the one-way street of brick row-houses where I grew up, cruised through my elementary school’s parking lot (“You didn’t live far from school at all, Mama!”), and went out to the church where their Daddy and I were married twenty-nine years after my own parents, in the same chapel. We visited my maternal grandmother, gone now thirteen years on Groundhog Day, and planted some mini daffodils at her headstone. We saw the park where we watched fireworks each July, the vet where we took our dog Sadie, the Super Fresh that is now a Planet Fitness. I drove my own little family along all the roads where my dad taught me to drive, and gave them the five dollar tour of my childhood.
I grew up in the heart of suburban Philadelphia, attending a mega high school surrounded by subdivisions. Heading into this trip, I was mostly prepared for the busyness of the region, the shopping centers and manicured lawns, the way the houses and people are all on top of each other, and only curtains and blinds keep you from seeing into your neighbor’s bathroom. But actually being there? The sensory input was really overwhelming: all the lights and signs and cars, and it surprised me to see the way the sky was orangey-brown at night with light pollution, rather than inky and dotted with stars.
I wasn’t prepared for the awful sense of loss. I didn’t expect to feel so bereft at the sight of the familiar, or so very, very sad at how lonely the cemetery looked in the rain with no one left on that side of the family to visit. We put forth an extraordinary amount of effort and coordination to make this trip, and I didn’t anticipate that I would be so mournful about how long it had been, and how long it might be again. I wasn’t aware how much I miss my family and my roots – how much I miss having roots. And I didn’t expect to feel so certain and so sad about the fact that we will not move back. Nor that I would be so tearful now trying to find the words for all of those feelings. I didn’t know I needed to mourn a place and time, even as I consciously and gladly work to make a new place my own.
So hi. I’m still here.