In the summer of 2009, Stanton and I moved from Richmond, Va., to San Antonio. We road-tripped southwest over the course of a weekend, stopping to sightsee and sample local flavors along the way. I remember devouring the best macaroni and cheese of my life at Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Birmingham, Ala., and walking on the beach in Biloxi, Miss., before driving to New Orleans for café au lait and beignets.
Fast-forward to this summer. Moving cross-country with kids leaves little wiggle room for epicurean indulgences or “the scenic route.” About two minutes into our flight from San Antonio back to the East Coast, Grace wondered, “Mom, are we there yet?” just as Anna wiped her chocolate-covered hand across my khakis.
If you’ve ever been on a plane for a three-and-a-half-hour flight and seen a mom traveling solo with two small children, trust me: Nobody wants to be “there yet” more than that mama. 😉
Once the four of us arrived together at our new home, though, we were excited to begin exploring our surroundings. First up: The girls couldn’t wait to pick dandelions in the backyard. Kids—it’s always the little things.
Now, you have to figure that whenever there’s a big change in your life (new baby, new job, new home—whatever it is), there will be a bump or two along the way. Something probably will not go as smoothly as it could.
For us, the major bump was our moving company. Unfortunately, they didn’t deliver the furniture from our Texas house to our New York house when they said they would—it arrived much later than promised.
The silver lining in this experience was that there wasn’t much for us to do in our mostly unfurnished new house. So the girls and I got out and about right away and began getting to know our new hometown.
One of our first stops: The library.
Our local library has a wonderful children’s section, which the girls love. A friendly mom whom I met there invited us to join her and her Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at a nearby park the following day. So we did.
All the moms were kind and welcoming. I very much appreciated them, as well as the “inside scoop” they shared with me about other fun, family-friendly local activities. Thanks to these moms, we’re making plans to visit neighboring apple orchards, the New York State Museum and indoor trampoline parks.
I’ve been here in the Albany area just a short while now, but I’ve figured out that Dunkin’ Donuts is the locals’ chain coffeehouse of choice. There is an awesome-looking local espresso bar about a mile from our home, and I can’t wait to drop in and do some writing, too. In the meantime, the girls and I have been hitting up the closest Dunkin’ for our afternoon pick-me-ups.
On the second or third night in our new home, I was surprised to feel a lump in my throat. Earlier that day, I had received a “thinking of you” package from my San Antonio friend Haeley. Coincidentally, two other good friends from San Antonio (Ashley and Michelle) had also texted to let me know they were thinking of me. I cared for and appreciated them and their friendship so much, and was feeling a sense of “friendless-ness” in my new hometown.
Making friends and developing friendships take time. I have been touched, though, by the friendliness of everyone I’ve met so far, from the MOPS group to the college students who serve up great sandwiches at “The Village Butcher” by the espresso bar to our neighbors. One afternoon, our next-door neighbor stopped by with this lovely bouquet of sunflowers from a local dairy farm, right after another neighbor dropped off a container of freshly sliced watermelon and strawberries.
These kindhearted gestures have helped Stanton, the girls and me settle in and begin to feel at home.
One evening, the four of us were eating a simple pasta dinner together in the dining room. Grace and Anna were sitting at their “Frozen”-themed activity table, while Stanton and I were sitting cross-legged on the floor (our furniture had not yet arrived, remember). We were eating and talking, and I looked around and thought, “I couldn’t be happier.” So I let them know, as you should in moments like this: “I love you guys so much. This is all I need. I mean it—this is everything to me.”
“Love you too!” Grace yelled. It was nearing her bedtime, and she was getting silly.
“You!” Anna yelled along, throwing her hands up.
I looked across the “Frozen” table. Stanton looked back and winked.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Home isn’t what you have, or where you live. It’s who you’re with.
Home is who you’re with.
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.