What defines home?
Is it where you grew up? Where you came to after a school day, had friends for sleepovers, did your chores....where you spent your childhood dreaming of the day you would finally move out of to build your own home?
Is it the place you put your groceries on Sunday, rush back to after a long day at work, raise your own children and store your stuff: your furniture, your shoes, your new dreams for the future?
Could it be a bit of both?
Going home to the place you grew up - the home that really doesn't belong to you on paper...but does in the depths of your memories- is still going home. Right?
Well I just returned from "going home". And let me say...going home this summer to the house that I grew up in has been such an amazing experience.
To be sleeping under the roof I slept under for all those years of my childhood, but to now be doing it with my own two children with me...
To drive by familiar landmarks- houses I spent time in with friends, stores I've visited over the years, the lake I spent all of my summer days...and many of my winter- to see all that has changed and all that has stayed the same....
To see my parents interact with my children and the joy that was felt by all of them. Even when somebody was being "the destructor"....
To be in the place that shaped me in my childhood and to see it through the eyes of my children. And to imagine how it may shape them as well, for summers in the Northeast Kingdom are such a treat....
And to catch up with old pals and make some new ones....
Now anybody who knows me knows that...well I certainly don't know many strangers. I have no problem going places alone with the kids because I usually run into somebody I know or make friends with somebody I haven't met before. And this was true in Vermont.
I met many interesting folks including an adult adoptee (the 1st Asian adoptee in Vermont in fact) and his lovely family. It was a great meeting and we spoke in depth (well as much depth as we could muster in McD's with our kids running around) about growing up adopted, being a minority within community~ even within your own family and he gave me some tips on what he would have liked to have had different growing up. He was a remarkable young man and I was inspired by him and glad for his kindness and for sharing his experiences.
We met another family vacationing there as well with a 10 year old from Hunan. It amazes me how the girls immediately got to know one another and happily played in the grass with their newly acquired Japanese erasers for almost an hour, like they had been best friends for years! It was fun for us adults to compare stories and compare issues that relate to raising our children. The girls exchanged email addresses and we hope to keep in touch!
I had the pleasure of meeting a birth mother who easily told me her story of choosing to make a plan for her daughter, 40 years ago, and the emotions that went into such a huge decision. She also told me the story of being reunited a few years ago and how she is so certain that the decision she made was in fact the best for all. She loves the family that adopted that baby and they have a mutual respect for one another. It's so rare to ever hear such an honest account from "the other side" of adoption and for me, as an adult adoptee, it was very refreshing and almost therapeutic.
I also met people just because we had children. It's always nice to chat with other parents and watch the children~ strangers moments before~ building a sand castle or playing some game of make believe. And it's always interesting to hear their stories, because we all have our own stories right. And as I said...I don't know many strangers and stories seem to flow once folks ask me a question or two about my kiddos.
And of course I met up with or ran into people from my childhood, some alone and some with their own children in tow. How amazing to hang out with people I played dolls with or swam in the lake each summer with...now with families, homes and careers of their own! To hear somebody tentatively say "Jenn...is that you?" and then to put the face and voice with the person was very fun. And then to reminisce about our pasts....
But most of all- to have almost two weeks with my parents and let them enjoy their grandkids was fabulous! And as a bonus my big brother and his family joined us for the last weekend there. So on top of all the other great things about going home was that I got a few days with them! The girls caught right up and played like crazy and Sammy just so enjoyed being amongst all the people and activities! These are the times they will remember as they grow and to share in that was so awesome!
And spending time with my parents and brother again...well it was almost like old times. I could almost feel the 70's creeping around the corner and asking me to put on some hand-me-down plaid bell bottoms and our favorite Neil Diamond record on the player!
So going home, whether I call the place by that name all the time or just when I return there, was truly a gift.
Photos to come...there were so many taken it'll be hard to choose my favorites...but I will try!