Saturday, July 7, 2012

Memory Lane

It's been a record long time since I've posted, but I have excuses. Right now we're living in a hotel in PA. I want to catch up with the little things, but first: The Big Thing. We're living in a hotel in Pennsylvania because Justin accepted a job here and we're relocating! Justin spent his entire life, minus a few months, living in Maryland. I lived there since I was seven years old. 

So, to say goodbye to Maryland and all the places I lived there, a little trip down memory lane... It started with the house on Templar Court, where I have my last memories of my mother. I remember that when we moved to Maryland from New York, I thought Maryland smelled funny. I think it was actually just the weird tree in our front yard. Maybe my dad remembers what kind it was. There was Saint Mary's school, plaid jumpers and knee socks. I met my friend Missy on the bus the first day, and we were the same age that my son is now. There was "The Worst Birthday Party Ever" and tons of fun exploring around the neighborhood and nearby woods with my brother. My dad let me watch scary movies, which I was not afraid of, but my aunt would cover my eyes and my friends would run from the room. But in the middle of the night, I have to admit that I was often nervous that my red-headed Cabbage Patch doll looked a little too much like Chucky.

Next came the house on Dean Drive when I was 12. There was Timm next door, runaways in the playhouse, sneaking out and wandering the neighborhood, and switching to public school where I met good friends Tara and Autumn, among others. There was middle school and high school, when your friends are your world and your priorities are all over the place and you really don't know who you're going to be even though you're mostly already you.

I took a short break from Maryland when I spent a semester in college in Virginia, but I boomeranged back to Dean, to my dad, and to the flower shop where I worked. I remember telling coworker Don that I had started dating my long-time friend, 17-year-old Justin. 17 seems so young now, and so long ago. We quickly moved into our first apartment, Bayberry. Justin almost proposed to me in a tree, but the people playing tennis nearby were too loud and distracting. Instead, he proposed on "Monkey's Cliff," and I told him how a corpse had recently been discovered in the creek below. We drove straight from the park to Hallmark, where I bought engagement announcements.

We were married in Frederick in October 2000. Justin wasn't even old enough to drink. We moved to our second apartment in Bayberry, The Loft, where our cat Ashe found surprising ways to get around our makeshift gate and into the loft, where she would seek and find the Beanie Baby Seahorse every time. Sweet Ashe, who hated everyone but us.

To save money, we moved in with coworker Don and stayed there for about three years. I still can't believe we lived in that dump. The carpet was so worn you could see the floor below. The walls were yellow with cigarette smoke. The dishwasher didn't work and was used as a drying rack. The kitchen floor was buckled. During Hurricane Isabel, a tree fell on the house and we could only use one of the doors to go in and out. Power was out for 10 days. We had a BBQ to grill up all the meat before it went bad. The backyard was a beast and we took out our frustrations on old porch chairs. We let 'em know who was boss. Don had a string of interesting characters as friends. You never quite knew what you were in for on Mitscher St.

But living in a dump didn't suit us forever. Our next stop was a little apartment in Gaithersburg: Spring Ridge. It was big for a one-bedroom, 780 square feet. Justin had started working at HMS and I had finished college, worked for a year as a nanny, and was working at Borders, where I met good friend Betsy. When we talked about having kids, Betsy told me not to wait until "all our ducks were in a row," because then we might never get around to having kids. So, Justin and I decided we were ready and along came Alexander. I stopped working outside the home to care for him, and there, truly, began the life that I am living now. I joined the old Yahoo playgroup and met my first "mom friends." Then I joined the Tot Lot MC2 and met so many more mom friends, who are all very, very dear to me. I think we all shared an amazing, special time in our lives with most of us starting out with our first children and all adjusting together to that new life.

When Alexander had just turned two, we moved again, not far, to a rental townhouse on Pontiac Dr. Jack was born and we were really becoming a family. Pontiac became the catalyst for our move to Frederick when the owner got foreclosed on and we had to get out, fast. We didn't know how long we had before someone would come put locks on our doors. No one could give us any answers and as much as we tried, no one would take our rent money.

We bought a house in Frederick and spent four amazing years there. Kai and Noah were born, Alexander went to preschool and two years of elementary school. Jack went to preschool. There was the FC Tot Lot and then the MOMS Club, where I met so many more dear friends. I had come to feel so at home there, so much a part of the community. I honestly did not think we would ever leave. Leave that house, maybe, but Frederick had become home to me in a way that none of the other homes were home. It was a home that we had chosen to buy, a home that all of our children had lived in, a home where I could go outside and immediately see friends. But life doesn't stand still. So, here we are in Pennsylvania, where we hope to find that kind of home again. I want to be a part of things again, make connections, contribute to the community, explore, learn, create, and wonder along with our children.

And for now, we're in a hotel, and it's hard not to feel like our lives are on hold until we get into a real home. But there are adventures to be had, and I'm trying very hard not to wait for my "new life" to start, but to live every day as an important day in my life. Every day spent with the four best little boys in the world and the most awesome husband is indeed an important day.