Fourteen Years

I have a vivid memory of a visceral experience of tangible joy, a jolt of happiness in a moment of homecoming.

It surprised me because I had only “lived” in Virginia for a semester, but when we drove over the hill and my college campus came into view after 20+ long hours in the car on that chilly January day, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was here, this place I had chosen. I was home.

That was 14 years ago, and this memory of innate gut-reaction joy is odd because there were so many times since my husband and I have been married where we complained that Lynchburg didn’t “feel like home.”

More likely though, we didn’t feel like a family yet at the beginning of our marriage and our wild introduction to parenthood times two.

Our first two years of marriage were a whirlwind. On our 2nd anniversary weekend, we became homeowners and moved our 25-year-old selves and our two babies into our first home.

The week we moved into our first home

We soon had buyer’s remorse (but what could we do?); we had been looking for over a year for a home and the house we bought had everything on our “list” so we jumped on it. But we weren’t in love.

Just like we weren’t in love with Lynchburg.

It was a place that sucked us in, that didn’t let us go once we graduated from college, like so many other students who came to school and stayed.

“We’re that couple.” We laughed and rolled our eyes when we told the story to friends and acquaintances. And they laughed and rolled their eyes too because they knew—they were that couple too.

We talked about moving: Back home, to Alaska (no, dear husband), to anywhere! Put your finger on the map! Aaron even applied for jobs all around the country.

But we stayed. And stayed. A decade rolled by and we wondered, Is this going to be our forever home?

 We realized that in the middle of all our angst about Lynchburg and irritation at our crappy little house, we had grown roots. In the middle of all that restlessness, we made a home. We found a church we loved. Our boys went to school across the street. Our friendships grew wider and deeper. Our family expanded.

We learned contentment.

And then? We said yes to a new adventure. The wide blue yonder of the Air Force is calling us and after a year and a half of hoping, planning, and waiting, in one week, we will be moving from the first place we learned to call home.

And I’ve been avoiding my feelings about this like the plague.

When people ask how I’m feeling about moving, I mostly just say, “I can’t even wrap my head around it. It feels surreal.”

I think I just want to avoid the grief of leaving the place I have lived my entire adult life since I was 19 years old.

The place where I went to college and grad school and held my first job.
The place where I birthed all of my babies (forever they will answer the question “Where are you from?” with “I was born in Virginia.”)
The place where we have spent 9 Christmas mornings, hosted birthday parties and Sunday night dinners, and mentored students.
The place where I have built a solid community of friendship and support.

I’m leaving that place. And my heart is breaking.
I’m fond of telling my children that all choices have consequences, either good or bad. I made this choice, after years of telling my husband “no” to a life in the military, with my eyes wide open, or as open as I could muster.

But this choice, to move from a place that I grew in love with, brings deep grief, pain that I don’t even want to put my finger on because I don’t even know how I am going to start over again.

And we are truly starting over.

The day Aaron and I got married, we didn’t even have a bed in our tiny rental house. We went to Target with some of our wedding gift cards and bought an air mattress and some new sheets. We were young and in love and had no idea what we were getting into.

In a little more than a week, we will be driving to our new house in TX. Aaron will be flying back to VA to oversee our “big move” later this month. When we arrive at our rental house, we will be rolling out air mattresses for our four boys and topping them with new sheets that I bought yesterday at Target.
You see? Starting over.

I am digging in my heels even as I am willingly taking the next step forward. I am excited and terrified. I am stressed to the max and so ready to see my husband again.

I’m living in the tension of letting go while I want to desperately cling to the familiar, of leaving the shade of this beautiful, comfortable life I’ve created to step into the blinding sun to plant a new seed, a new life.

How do you say goodbye to a life you have carved out and crafted for 14 years?
Why are new beginnings so sad?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’m making my home in the middle of this achingly beautiful transition right now.