How Home Grows

One of those moments

One of those moments

Anyone who moves anywhere waits for this moment: the moment when you realize that you’d miss the place if you ever had to leave.

At first, when you move, the opposite is often true. The new place feels strange and you wish you could go back to the other one which, regardless of your reasons for leaving in the first place, had at least become comfortable. Known.

I remember when we first drove into our new town in Vermont, we’d been driving all night, and in the warm morning sun that would have seemed welcoming had everything not felt so odd, my husband said: “Look at those mountains. Aren’t they beautiful?” But my first thought, which I didn’t actually say, was: no. Swollen and green, they seemed to bear down on the car windows, closing in. I missed the wide blue of Lake Michigan.

Settling in, fighting homesickness, you eventually realize you only build a life by trying to, and we had moved enough to know we had to.

So we did. We went to town, shopped there, talked to people, walked in the woods, met our neighbors, attended playdates, made friends, found a church, planned a garden, raised chickens, adopted cats, muddied our floors and mopped them again and again, put pictures on the walls, and just generally bore down and took up the task of living where we were.

And then they started to happen: those moments.

Sometimes they were dramatic, like when I came back from a run at sunset and saw cloudfires, red and orange, set against the silhouette of Jay Peak. Sometimes they were ordinary, like when my kids and their friends spent a whole afternoon building a fort out of sticks (the “Ever Kids Club,” they called it) on the first semi-warm day of 2013. Either way, they were happening.

I had another one of them this Sunday. My neighbor and I went riding, as we often do, and it was just one of those perfect September days: warm, bright, too early for hunting season, too late for bugs, and we were cantering the horses down the middle of a dirt road, above the valley that dips to Lake Memphremagog, between mountains. In one of those rare moments when full appreciation aligns perfectly with experience, when you catch yourself truly loving the moment in real time instead of retrospect, I realized how much I do have here, in this new place which was only a year ago strange and frightening. Which is not to say that I don’t still miss Lake Michigan. I’ve just made room in my heart for more.

Back at the barn, my neighbor and I were trying to figure out how many more trail rides we could work in before rifle season. “We’ve got to do lots of these,” we agreed.

And how nice it feels to know there’s plenty of time.