Tag Archives: travel

Home Again

Rochester, NY
Rochester, NY, from the plane

When I moved back to South Florida in my early 20s and back in with my Mum, I was anxious that the ghosts from my past would catch up with me and pull me under. Throughout my life, I’ve had a tendency to move from one place to another – England, Barbados, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Oregon – with the intent to leave the past behind and go on to something better for me. Going back was never in my plans.

Yet I did. My Mum’s house was supposed to be a temporary way point, a few-month-layover, on my journey to England – the place I’ve always wanted to go back to. Moving to England didn’t work out, but neither did living with my Mum.

Did the ghosts rise up and haunt me? Not exactly. Although driving around some of my old neighborhood haunts did twist my gut. I’d changed my name – and my hair color. I couldn’t even find most of the old gang I used to hang out with. (I even wrote a song about it: Home Again “I’m back home again, but I’m a stranger now. I didn’t want that life anyhow.”)

When I left for Rochester, NY, I was glad enough to move on and put it all behind me.

No more fresh starts

These days I’m more interested in integrating my life — past and present — and living from a place of wholeness. I no longer want, or need, to package away the difficult parts of my life, to tidy them into boxes to be stored in the dark recesses of my mind. Or even to compartmentalize the contradictory pieces and keep them separate from each other. I’m a mother and writer, a medium and knitter, a whatever I am and whatever else that don’t seem to belong together, but clearly do as they are a part of me.

Every time I come back to Rochester I seem to reconnect with parts of myself — who I was when I lived here in a slightly different life to who I am now. Internally, it feels like I’m finding strands of myself and plugging them in to each other, creating new pathways and strengthening my mental and emotional capacities.

In the New Year, those connections were with the kids’ Dad’s family, people I hadn’t seen since before we left for Oregon. Back when I was seemingly happily married and starting a new life with my little family.

This trip I feel like I’m reconciling and reconnecting with places within myself. Who I was then with who I am now. How do those people match up? How do I match up with the vision of myself?

Who am I now?

I’ve spent the past year re-visioning myself. Allowing myself to conceive of a new idea of who I am and how I present myself in the world. What I do. What I look like (apparently it’s without makeup most of the time).

It’s lead me to surprising places — to writing a memoir about one of the more painful and tumultuous times in my life. To reconsidering what I want to do in terms of my career (always subject to further reconsideration, of course). To learning how to consciously parent again.

This trip to Rochester also has some surprises. As I drove to a business meeting yesterday morning, I realized I was driving by the facility where I visited my ex-husband after his suicide attempt. I caught my breath, thrown off guard by sudden memories I hadn’t yet unpacked from their tidy boxes. I wasn’t able to before, but I’m willing to unpack them and look at them now, though. To think about them and feel them, as uncomfortable as it may be.

They are mine and I claim them. Even if they make my toes curl.

A city of memories

There are so many memories for me here in this city. Nine years of them. Memories of the apartment on Goodman and Monroe where the kids’ dad lived when we met. Of the bagel place on the corner we’d walk to for breakfast. The house we brought our babies home from the hospital to. The neighborhoods I’d walk with my Mum.

Echoes of a time gone now. Of relationships changed. Of ghosts.

Reconnecting with our roots

I’m glad the kids get to come back here. That they reconnect with their roots. Most of the places I’ve left I’ve simply gone from, rarely returning. A short trip or two, perhaps. I’ve been to England three times since I left when I was 10, Barbados two or three times as well. North Carolina, twice, I think. But Rochester keeps calling me back.

I come back for the kids, to pick them up and fly them home again, 2,500 miles to the other coast where they spend most of their lives. So partly there is no choice. But I choose to stay for days extra each time, visiting friends and reconnecting, meeting potential clients and making new connections. I don’t have to do that part. But I do, because there’s part of me still here in these city streets. Part of me still here in the life I built for myself in my 20s, the one I was willing to give up for yet another fresh start.

Cuddles on the bed
More love than images can hold.

On the trip here, despite the 3:40 a.m. wake up time, the long travel and delays, I kept smiling at my fellow travellers. I realized I am one of the most fortunate people on this planet. I am loved, I have a fantastic home, good food to eat, ample clean water, a healthy wonderful family. Work that’s meaningful. A safety net of support. Time for myself (yes, with 4 kids!). I am so incredibly blessed. I have so much, and so much to give. A smile is the least I can do.

So even when feelings from the past rise up and wriggle my insides, I know it’s OK. Because I can feel those feelings, sit with them and be OK. My home, it turns out, is inside myself. And I’m coming home again.

Broken finger, birthdays, art and travel

Here’s a summary of the past week:

  • Emma broke her little finger
  • Grandma Yayoe came over for a fun art afternoon
  • Duncan and Berry finished up summer camp
  • We celebrated birthdays
  • I got Duncan and Berry packed and ready for their trip to New York

You can’t say we haven’t been busy.

Afternoon art with Grandma Yayoe.

The broken pinky and afternoon art

Sweet Emma broke the pinky finger on her right hand (she’s right-handed) on Thursday morning at her mom’s house. At first, we thought it was just sprained, so when she came over in the afternoon, I manufactured a homemade splint and she got down to some serious artwork with Grandma Yayoe.

The boys couldn’t be persuaded to leave their computers, even though they are talented artists as well.

Yayoe brought over a mysterious substance from days long ago called carbon paper. I have vague recollections of the secretary at my dad’s office using carbon paper in the typewriter and of messing around with it myself. But I haven’t seen any in years. Neither had Yayoe — she found it at Goodwill.

End of summer camp

The end of summer camp week inevitably came, much to Berry’s sorrow. The kids went on a field trip to the Enchanted Forest in their tie-dye camp t-shirts and cemented their bonds with their camp counselors.

Meanwhile, I took Emma to the doctor to have her finger looked at. The swelling and pattern of bruising around her knuckle worried me. Something just didn’t feel right.

We got an appointment that morning, so I took kids to school, then Emma to the doctor. She got xrays. The pediatrician thought it was just a sprain so she got an impressive-looking professional splint (none of my Popsicle stick and gauze nonsense).

A radiologist read the xrays and called Adam later in the day. The verdict: a fracture near her knuckle in the growth plate. After a visit to an orthopedist a few days later, she ended up with a fiberglass cast for 3 weeks.

Birthday celebrations

Family dinner on the patio.

We celebrated a cluster of birthdays over the weekend – Adam’s on Saturday, Duncan’s on Sunday, Grandma Susie’s on Wednesday.

Saturday evening we hosted family dinner, enjoying BBQ chicken and various salads on the patio in the 92-degree evening. I didn’t get any good present opening pictures and the cake, while delicious, wasn’t truly impressive looking (Chocolate Mocha Torte aka Chocolate Potato Cake).

But presents were opened to the gift-receivers’ delight and Adam got the socks and underwear he’s always wanted.

Child-eating donut
A giant donut with teeth has eaten Duncan.

Sunday morning, I surprised Duncan with a trip to Voodoo Donuts for some healthy birthday breakfast. He got to choose two for him and one each for everyone else. Alas, no gluten-free donuts were to be found, but sugar makes me grumpy anyway.

Duncan opened his gifts, quite happy with his loot, almost all Minecraft- or Pokemon-related. He also asked for a Sorry! boardgame, so we had a round of that at some point, after putting together all the Minecraft papercraft boxes he also received.

Getting ready to leave

And then it was time to get the little kids ready to go to Rochester to see their for 5 weeks.

I got a bit maudlin and wrote about it on my other blog, Irrepressible Spirit.

Duncan crammed in as much time with his friends as possible — one sleepover, a birthday afternoon Minecraft spree, a trampolining play date, and a morning at another friend’s house. Berry and I hung out together, squeezing in one birthday party where she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. We were going to get in one more bike ride, but it strangely rained (unusual for summer in Eugene). And we’re not that hardcore.

I washed all the kids’ dirty clothes in order to pack them — plus a couple of stuffed animals that had become a bit stinky. And I took lots of pictures of them while they were asleep. So cute that way.

On Wednesday, we succeeded in using the kids’ coupons for a free crepe at 16 Tons, surprising Grandma Susie fortuitously with birthday cards and a present. Emma and Sam were at her house being put to work, so everyone came along.

Somehow, Duncan and Berry had never tasted Nutella before. Clearly I have failed as a mother. I made up for it with a hot chocolate to go with it. I ate salad and drank jasmine tea. Then we zipped over to the airport to surprise their Dad as he arrived.

We made final trip preparations, getting their case packed to its full 50lb weight limit with Pokemon cards and stuffed animals. And then it was time for dinner, bath and bed, our normal routine. We finished Duncan’s last Looniverse book, and crept through a little more Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sadly leaving Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing unfinished. I popped it into his carry-on bag. We’ll see if he manages to read it by the time he returns.

early morning wakeup3:30 a.m. Thursday morning arrived and I woke up the kids, sleepily getting them dressed and fed and packed into their Dad’s car at 4 a.m. Off they went, as I waved through the living room window, the car’s taillights disappearing into the morning’s dark.


What will the remainder of the summer bring for Camp Mummy?

Well, with a cast on her right hand, bike riding and swimming are out for Emma. So I’ll have to come up with something more creative for the days she’s home with me. Hiking? Reading? Board games? Stay tuned.