Almost exactly six years ago, we made a phone call and put an offer on the "Simpson's House" in New Jersey.
It wasn't orange, and our neighbors certainly weren't the Flanders Family-that's more of what we were going to be leaving behind, but it was in Springfield and on Evergreen Avenue.
I had room for what we figured was going to be our quickly shrinking full-time family. It was only 15 miles from New York City and the commute was "reasonable" as our realtor told us.
We moved here with an 11 year old and Matt's hair had a few grays that would pop up. I could walk all day in flip flops and not need an ice pack on my back.......and legs......and feet......and four Aleve.
I baked bread in my tiny kitchen and thought my church callings would all stay "two hours on Sundays" style and we would just easily head to the Manhattan Temple on Friday nights and most things would be like they always had been. We'd stay in our little bubble and New Jersey would be a place we lived, but we'd still be us, only more cosmopolitan with lots of black turtlenecks and a better cheese platter game.
(That had better be grape juice in that glass, Buddy.)
Today, the 11 year old will be 17 in a few months and she gets into cars with boys and bless her heart, tells them "My mom will not let me hang out with you if you swear when we're together" to help make sure they behave, even though she knows Mom has always struggled with dropping that thick dialect of her native language, Pottymouth.
If you just gasped, we all have our vices. I don't ever swear in front of your kids, but I will drink multiple cans of Diet Dr. pepper in front of them because the caffeine soda thing is imaginary, my much-loved fellow Morm friends.
Can we make that a thing?
Sweet Baby Jane graduates high school in a few weeks. I was engaged to Matt when I went to her kindergarten graduation. I brought 4 year old Romy, who sat on my lap and Sunnie sat with us. Jane sang songs and had her hair in piggies and her shirt was on backwards, as per usual with Jane-A-Little-Bit.
I was so worried about Greyson and this move. I worried that he'd never have another good friend, he had such a pal in Jarod. Grey made two really good friends here, and our sweet Jarod passed away suddenly this past fall.
That loss has been just too hard.
Hard to come to terms with, hard to talk about.
Kate was excited to see a real Broadway show and she was the first one to see Wicked, we got her tickets for her 16th birthday and she and Matt went to the city, just the two of them for the whole day. It's a tradition they started when he worked in Chicago and the Summer Birthday girl has celebrated in the city with just Daddy every year possible. She's all grown up-ish and acting and finding her path, like you do.
Zane was the one I worried about the most. Half of my kids are introverts, but it runs deepest in Zane. He was also my kid who really prayed about the move and even though it was scary, he was totally on board because the Lord told him it was the right thing for our family. He made some wonderful friends here, both kids from the ward and the adults that Matt and I became lifelong friends with. He has an entire troop of people who love and look out for him as if he were one of their own. He went on a mission and just wrapped up his freshman year at BYU-I.
Emma had one year left of high school and it was to be our last legit full summer together until she finished college. She finished college last year, by the way. She did a Semester in London and grew up so quickly.
Parker wanted to move in with his friends and absolutely not leave Utah. He had a rocky year and joined us that fall and New Jersey embraced him and feels like 'home' to him now.
We circled the wagons and held on tightly to one another as we started this next type of season of being a family.
Re-set buttons were nothing new to us, but they are always something different than what you expected or planned.
Life is still good, still full of adventures and joy and growth and it is still pretty hard- just in different ways than it was the season before. It isn't the same as it was when marker on the wall, breeding Happy Meal toys and the high price of diapers were the big concerns. That was hard, too, but completely different from this kind of hard.
We do see amazing shows on Broadway when we want to, but not all of the time. We go to Central Park and eat food from a cart or a bodega because schlepping a loaded picnic basket on the subway is not how you start a good day.
We say things like "schlepp" and "bodega" and we know that you wait on line instead of in line because we are not savages.
It costs a fortune between parking and tolls to go to the temple and it takes over 2 hours to get into the city on a weekend night, so we are not on a first-name basis with the temple patrons by any means. My kids know when to cross against the light, how to negotiate with a street vendor, and to avoid Times Square in the summer unless we have visitors- and they know just what streets to enter it from so our guests are blown away and then we can get out of there quicker.
(Truth be told, I actually still like Times Square. You're not supposed to and I do sincerely hate almost every person who is there, but New York hate is a type of love.
You'd have to be there to understand.
So much has changed, and yet, here I am, back in my family room, typing away on a laptop in mismatched socks. I'm on another dang diet (look, I didn't swear!) feeling the desire to just write again. My lazy blogging grammar, scattered thoughts and jokes that are only funny to me seem to have stayed the same.
My writing now is less about the life I lead and more about the life I have already experienced and what it made me to think, how my thoughts have evolved as the outcome of consuming the whole bottle of "Drink Me" potion in Wonderland have unfolded -- like a proper old person.
And my stories are my stories.
Those who were with me at the time have their own stories about the same events.
I believe we have the experiences we need in life. Because everyone has different needs, we often go through something with other people and no matter how close you were at the time, you were different people with different destinies and your mind and soul took different things from those shared experiences. You left with the memories that contained the things you needed, someone else left with something else and both versions are 100% true.
My story will not be exactly the same as say my brother's story or my neighbor's story because they actually only had a shared setting, and other than that, everything else was actually quite different.
In geekspeak, The Lord of the Rings is an amazing story about 7 adventurers who set out together to destroy the Ring of Power. Frodo's story is not the same as the one Legolas told. It's not even the same as Sam's story, and they were together the entire time.
I might possibly have added that example just as an excuse to post a picture of on offended elf, because it's fabulous.
Aaaaanyway....that's my defense-mechanism disclaimer before I start writing my memories, having come from a home where remembering the layout of a room or the color of a shirt wrong made you a 'liar.' It was one of the things that was super broken in our home and hard to get over.
I run for the hills when I meet people who do that now, but sometimes, when I'm being my absolute worst self-- dang, I start doing it, too.
(It's always wrong and I'm always working on changing that, unlike my diet soda addiction.)
Maybe I will just write this one whack-o post and forget about this. Maybe I'll change my mind and decide I can't open the books of my past at all just yet.
It's not actually interesting, but as a person who loves genealogy, I find even the most mundane stories to be fascinating, with enough years between my ancestor and me.
So, I'm going to start again, but write about different things.
I'll also write about the same old things too.
The universe has waited entirely too long for a new Unique Thrift post, that's for sure.
It wasn't the cancer that got Patty in the end.