coming home

We’ve been invited to 11 weddings this year. At last count, I think we can attend 8. During the Marriage and Babies stage of life, some years are like this; vacation time is devoted to wedding travel. F. and I often rationalize making time in our budget and schedule to attend friends’ and relatives’ weddings by saying, “It’s a once-in-lifetime event. Or so we hope.” So this year, weddings will take us to East Coast and Midwest and all points in-between.

This past weekend we returned to our alma mater for a prelude-to-the-wedding reunion weekend. Full of old friends and laughter and wine and a few new babies running underfoot. The bride-to-be kept saying, “I can’t believe all the people I love are all under one roof! I want you all to stay!” The kind of weekend you wish, for a moment, could last forever. We could all live here, old roommates and husbands and boyfriends and babies, and things could be The Way They Were.

But you know they can’t. There are planes to catch; work calls on Monday morning. We have other lives to return to.

Driving home from the airport last night while S. and F. dozed in the back, I soaked in a few peaceful moments of the spring evening. The magnolia trees are blooming in the suburbs, and the fields close to home are greening more every day. I realized with quiet satisfaction that I was happy to be home.

It’s an unremarkable feeling, or can be. A homecoming is a thing assumed, taken for granted. You have a place and you can leave it or return to it. It’s constant. Four walls, a roof, a small piece of land. But it’s yours.

This was the feeling that grasped me last night. It’s mine.

There are many places on this good green earth that have been home for a while. The house of my childhood. The college I visited with nostalgia this weekend. Even Paris and London for a spell.

For a long time since I moved here, I was longing for all those other homes. I wanted to gather all of the people and places I loved and bring them here so things could be Perfect. It took me a long time to reprogram “home” in my cell phone from my parents’ house to the one that F. & I now share.

Something has shifted in me now, and timing-wise I can only attribute it to S’s arrival. I feel almost guilty saying that this place didn’t feel fully Home when it was just F. and I in the first years of our marriage. I loved those years, just the two of us, building our life together, toes brushing up on the doorstep of our dreams.

But S’s entrance into our lives made me grow up. I am never going to live next door to my siblings or down the road from my best girlfriends, and that is reality. I am called to be here, as they are called to be there.

To be the parent I want to be for S., I need to be fully present to him in the circumstances of our lives where we find ourselves. I want to create a home for him that is warm and loving and creative and crazy and full of laughter – the kind of homes I have always held close. And that home is right here.

It might not always be; God’s plans will likely call our family into unexpected corners. But for now, this home and this piece of land are ours – to grow and tend and find peace within.

I’m ready to embrace that, to hang more of my pictures on the wall. To paint the front door a color I love. To weed the garden so my plants will bloom. To delight at the winding descent of the plane towards the rivers and cities that are now my own. I used to drive home from the airport with a lump in my throat, wanting more of what I’d just left behind and counting down the days till I’d be back with those I’d left. But now I want to be here – home.

And as I laid S. into his crib last night, and his arms and limbs instinctively snuggled into his familiar pose, I thought, he’s glad to be home, too.

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