We moved this week. Across town—well, technically, to another town about fifteen miles away—for the sake of simplicity "across town" feels accurate. We moved from one cozy corner of California, where we've spent the last almost seven years, to another.
When we planted ourselves in this adorable beach town, we had no children. We lived in a tiny yellow house directly next to some of our best friends. We walked to the winery a block away and brought our own cheese plate and watched the sunset on the regular. We strolled down to the cute coffee shop around the corner and listened to live music on Sunday afternoons. When we had just one baby we still did these things because sometimes one baby is a delightful accessory to grown-up activities . . . and then our one baby became a toddler, so we moved a mile away to a more "kid-friendly" house.
It was so kid-friendly, in fact, that we had two more. My son learned how to ride a two-wheeler bike up and down that long driveway. My daughter took her first awkward steps across the carpet of the nursery. I peed on pregnancy tests in that one tiny bathroom. We brought home our third baby, and all felt the groan of a home becoming too small for such a loud family. But love grows in small spaces, and love grew there.
Still, seasons are seasons because they come to an end.
On the day we took the last load of stuff from the garage at the "old house," my husband and I loaded up the van with the random odds and ends still remaining. He put the barbecue and the playhouse in the bed of the truck, and as we pulled out of the driveway we yelled, "Goodbye old house!" My son thought it would be fun to drive past our other old house too, so we drove one mile north and waved goodbye to the yellow beach house and coffee shop that's now closed.
Although we were driving on real streets in real moments, in my mind I was driving back in time. My tiny babies, my early morning walks, those beginning days of my son's foster placement that were filled with fog and frustration and pain; those days lived between these two houses and the significance of those moments hit me hard in the final goodbyes.
I pulled into the empty parking lot of our favorite old coffee shop. We said a final farewell—although it's been closed for a year. My son announced: "You always had the best chocolate muffins! I miss you forever!" They did have great chocolate muffins.
As I reversed out of the parking lot, I turned to look out the back window of the van. When we moved to this town my husband and I were just two, and now we were five. Two little faces stared at me as I scanned the road out that back window. The baby kicked her legs in her car seat, and I spied her little fat toes flicking her blanket into the air. My middle daughter snuggled her lovies—too many to name or count—piled high up to her chin. She and her brother had switched car seats for the trip because they are "big adventurers" and nothing says adventure like a new view.
My son smiled big and pointed out the window, "Go home, mommy! Let's get out of here!"
He always says that. His words held minimal significance to him, but to me the idea of home was so muddled and weighty. Home. That new house filled with boxes and—let’s be honest—IKEA bags and grocery sacks crammed with all of our belongings. "Home" was disorganized and chaotic, filled with unknowns.
I don't know what seasons are to come in this new house, but I have some hopes, some ideas. The baby will walk here. My two year-old will one day ride a bike. My son will climb tall trees and start kindergarten. We will buy donuts at the nearby bakery and make new traditions. We live near our friends once again and will make memories that are inevitably filled with wine, homemade cheese plates, and sunsets. We will laugh, and we will cry. Our love will grow in these new places.
Each season has been good and hard, and the next seasons will follow suit—I'm sure of it.
As I smiled back at the wispy blond-haired little girl in the back of the van and the curly brown-haired boy in the middle, I felt glad to spend each season with them. I watched the baby reach out and grab the edge of the blanket she'd been kicking, excited that her seasons were just beginning.
It wasn't the house that made the memories, it was the people. And these tiny humans . . . they are my people. Wherever they are is my home.