I was the first of my sisters to come to this town, though not the first to come to the state, and now we ALL have college degrees, 2 of us more than one degree. My older sister is a doctor and a mom, another is a mom of 4 kids, and my baby sister just moved to CA so she and her genius husband can do grad school. Oh, and learn to surf.
My family has gone from living in the house we lived in for 21 years to living in 5 different locations around the nation and the world at the same time (can you get farther apart than Argentina and China?!) to living all in the same state for the last 14 months.
I have an aunt and uncle who live in this town, and their family has been my family since I moved here, so I judge the passage of time through events in their family as well as mine. For example, in the last 13 years, between our two families, we have had 9 weddings and 15 grandchildren. And there are 2 more of each looming on the horizon. :)
When I came here, my aunt and uncle had 9 kids, and their oldest kids, twins, were sophomores in high school. Now there are 10 kids in the family, 6 of them are married, there are 10 grandkids, and those 2 high school sophomores each have 2 kids and a college degree. The second youngest was too young to remember life before I came here, and the youngest didn't have life before I came here! :)
In the past 13 years...
...members of my immediate family have lived in:
- New York
- St Louis
- Champaign, Illinois
- Jordan (2 times)
- France (3 times)
- 2 college degrees
- a car
- 3 brothers-in-law
- 3 nieces
- 2 nephews
- cunieces and cunephews to whom I am a Cuzaunt
- 4 bridesmaid dresses
- highlights in my hair
- 3 pairs of 3 inch heels
- a cell phone
- a real "move to be near it, get paid a salary, have good health insurance" job!
I have been staying at my aunt and uncle's house for the last two weeks, while getting ready for this move, and tonight when I got home, my uncle said to me, "So is this the last time you'll be sleeping over at our house?" And it hit me that it is, and I nodded yes so that I wouldn't cry when I said it, and he said, "It's the end of an era."
And lists like the ones above don't even TOUCH the friends that I've made, and the road trips, and the funny one-liners that stick with you. They don't cover academic growth, or spiritual growth, or personal growth, or professional growth, or what I now know that I want in my life that I didn't know I wanted before. They don't cover being in love, or getting your heart broken, or waiting. They don't cover jobs, or my coworkers who became my work family, or the stress of all-nighters freshman year and all nighters prepping the masters thesis, or the deep-down satisfaction of knowing that I finished that massive paper and contributed something to the university with my project.
I can't make a list of the changes in my world view, or the opinions I've discovered that I actually do have, or the power I've found to express them. I can't list the gratitude that I have to the people who have supported me, or even begin to ennumerate the ways they have done so.
- My mom and I get in my car in 30 hours and drive across the country.
- I hope that my 8-yr-old niece namesake forgives me for moving so far away after only a year and 2 months of us living in the same state.
- I hope that I don't cry every time I think of my 4-yr-old niece in tears telling her daddy, "I just really know I'm going to miss Aunt Margaret!"
- I buy a professional wardrobe.
- I find a place to live, hopefully adequately close to fun stuff and my job.
- I make new friends.
- I swallow my fear and my pride and step down from my "I've been top dog in my on-campus lab for 6 and a half years" pedestal and learn how to do my new job.
I try to think about what's AHEAD instead of what I'm leaving BEHIND so that I can make it to the other side of the country without losing all the liquid in my body through my eyeballs.