“Every one of a hundred thousand cities around the world has its own special sunset and it was worth going there, just once, if only to see the sun go down.”
We used to visit Washington, Pennsylvania every summer growing up. No, not Washington like where the President lives. This is far different. I am not even sure it can really be found on a map. It is a town where neighbors know each other; families never leave; sidewalks are broken; grocers know everyone by name; and where my dad mowed grass so he could earn money for college. My grandparents lived there and never left. The houses have big porches. Neighbors sit outside and wave and talk to each other across their yards. The simple life. Generations where people found their place in the world and then simply never left. My grandmother had wind up chattering teeth in a top drawer of her sunroom. It was the first thing we would do when we got to her house. A ritual. A way of showing how we missed the things and the people in that home. And at the end of the trip, as we drove our station wagon down the street, my grandmother would stand in the middle of the road and wave. She would stand in that road until she could not see us anymore…even when she was a teeny tiny little speck in the road as we went up the hill, she would still be there waving. I always wondered what she did as we turned the corner. I always imagined her sitting on that front porch and crying, but I hope she maybe was happy for the visit, or maybe relieved that three kids were finally gone. Maybe she waved in the middle of her little street until she was a tiny speck on the horizon to make sure we were 100% gone!!! It was a time where you couldn’t scroll through a camera on your phone and look at all the good times you had. You literally had to wait about a week to get any of those pictures back. So she didn’t even have that option to keep her company in our leaving. We went many places growing up. Summers in Barbados; trips to NYC; Ocean City, Maryland; San Diego. Making memories and rituals in every town along the way. Naturally I, in turn, show my children the things that I loved, as I was a child. Trips to the beach to catch the sunset and make s’mores in a fire pit as we watch the end of the day sink into the ocean. And the cycle continues, and then you see your kids doing the same things in their life that you introduced them to. So often my kids say things to me about something they did or said and it is EXACTLY what I did at their age. The other day my daughter said they were the last ones dancing at a club because they were having too much fun and didn’t want to come home. BINGO DONE THAT! In fact they say that many of the people who died when the Titanic went down is because they didn’t want to leave the dance floor. Some people simply can’t stop themselves from enjoying life. The puzzle pieces that are put together piece-by-piece make up who you are today. Eventually somewhere along the way the feeling of a particular place is so good that you never want it to end. Miami is one of my happy places. I introduced it to my girls several years ago. It is a place where the tempo is as good as the sunsets. It is a place where when you have nothing to do you can just sit in the sand and be. It is a place where a piece of my heart will live in the next month. My Ashley. Spreading her wings. She found ‘her place’ she says. They say you can’t tell your kids they can do anything they put their hearts to and spread their wings and fly, only to have their wings clipped by the people in their lives. It’s Ashley’s story that she is writing, not mine. As I laid in bed for many sleepless nights with the feelings only a mother can understand, I was sad for what I was losing; what I was going to miss; what I would feel like. ME ME ME. This wasn’t about me. She can’t live her life so that I feel comfortable. My friend Carol’s beautiful daughter Emily is in the Peace Corp in the middle of Africa. She lives in a mud hut with a family and is learning their language a million miles away from her friends and family. Carol and I were talking (Hi Carol I told you that you would make the blog some day) about how hard it is. Our relationships will be changed when they return. I mean who the hell are we supposed to go to Starbucks with now???? But families grow up and move away and evolve. That’s what our ultimate goals as parents are, right? To raise our children to ‘find their places’ in the world?! Or at least TRY…or at least WANT to try…to change and grow and prosper?! And if that plan doesn’t work out they can come back home and start all over again! Now I understand why my grandmother stood in the middle of the road until she was a grain of sand out our back window. She wanted to soak in every last minute of every last second with all the love and faith she had in us until we disappeared to live our new lives. Good to the last drop…..