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Home, Finally

On Memorial Day we took a quick half-day
trip to a nearby lake, hanging out with my brother and his family.
We had to time the 90-minute drive around the girls and naptime, of
course, so we planned to head back home during naptime, getting
back early evening. The morning at the lake was great, but had one
unintended side-effect: awakening the girls’ Pool Craving.
Apparently, spending the morning slugging through water
nature-style reminded them of how much they enjoy their concrete,
(relatively) sterile water fun, so we said that perhaps we’d
hit our pool that night after dinner.

The drive back (stick with me here,
there’s a point to this) took less time than we’d
anticipated, and we arrived home mid-afternoon. I remembered a
friend in the neighborhood was throwing a party at our local
clubhouse and pool, complete with hot dogs and ice cream. I’d
originally thought we’d hit the pool closest to our house and
have a quiet family night together, but I offered the party up as a
suggestion. Both girls and Brian all agreed the party sounded
better, and I found myself agreeing with them; I thought about my
mommy friends I hadn’t seen in a couple weeks and discovered
I was moving a bit faster in an effort to get there sooner, to be
around my friends. I gleefully threw a collection of leftover salsa
and tortilla chips, knowing no one would make fun of my last-minute

Then we had a church picnic yesterday, and I discovered I felt the
same way. After the service I was eager to hit the picnic site, sit
with new friends and eat barbeque and watch our kids get hot and
sweaty in the bounce house. And I realized it’s finally
starting to feel like home.

In both instances, I had last year to look back on for comparison:
we’d been to the same pool party, with the same people, for
Labor Day last year, and while I’d known the women for
several months and enjoyed their company, there wasn’t that
sense of anticipation, that feeling of “I can’t wait
until I’m in their presence and can relax.” I was still
feeling the “new kid” pressure and on my guard for
making some sort of social gaffe or unintended slight, and working
to get to know people. This year my whole family (even my introvert
husband) looked forward to getting in the pool with friends,
sitting on the side with a beer and a lazy grin while watching the
kids play, listening to friends who’d brought their guitars
put on an impromptu show for us.

Maddie was ecstatic, having all her friends in one place after
spending the school year catching solo playdates rather than group
ones since most of her friends were in preschool. She was in her
element, screaming and running (carefully!) and splashing and
jumping, playing Mermaid and Sea Monster and who knows what else.
Cora the extrovert was in her element, rediscovering water and
basking adoringly in the shadow of the “big kids”.

Church, too, had a picnic last year, where I knew no one’s
name and spent the whole time doing the “So tell me about
yourself” conversations. This time around I let my kids
wander, confident that half the congregation knows who they are and
will guard them as their own. Maddie screamed and ran (carefully!)
in the bounce house while Cora hovered on the edges and tried not
to fall over. Both girls ate too much cake and happily sacked out
hard during naptime.

My point here (see, I told you there was one!) is that I’m
finally feeling rooted, looking forward to my social groups as a
place of rest and relaxation rather than work and cultivation.
I’m not saying New York’s a dim memory – I still
think of it with longing (especially Zabar’s) and have been
known to airlift H&H bagels in when the ache is too strong. I
still look at photos of my church family from New York and long for
that to bloom here, that authentic community and intimate knowing
of your friends. And I’m conflicted about even writing this
blog, because I feel like acknowledging roots here comes at the
price of letting go a little bit more of New York, which makes me
ineffably sad. But I’m finally feeling some depth to my
defensive line, to use a football metaphor, or at least to feel
like I’ve got a defensive line at all. When I have a Bad
Mommy moment and wish I could call my girlfriend Abby and go drink
heavily with her, I know I’ve got other people I can call
who’ll be ready with the tequila and lime in five minutes.
I’m not saying I’ve got my Ya Yas yet, but it’s
definitely a start.

Huh. I guess it’s getting to be my home.


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