This weekend marks the one month anniversary of living in the stucco house in El Cajon (known to San Diegans as “East County”) . . . again. When Steve, the babies, and I showed up around this time last month, our arrival was not my first time moving into the house. It was not even my second. Third time’s a charm!
When I was born, in December of 1975 (all 10lbs 6oz of me), this is the house my parents brought me home to. They put me in the room where my daughter, Lane, is now–at this very moment–sleeping.
In December of 1999, when I finished graduate school at West Virginia University, I decided to get in my car, drive to Virginia where my brother was in college, pick him up, and drive straight through until we hit El Cajon. That was my second time moving in. I moved in to the room where my sister had grown up, and where my son, Luke, is now–at this very moment–sleeping.
That same year, my mom took a sabbatical from her job and moved to the East Coast, so I moved into the master bedroom and shared the house with a couple of girlfriends, a high school exchange student from Korea, and a menopausal cat. That lasted, in various forms, until I got married and moved to the Middle East.
When we returned from Bahrain, Steve and I bought a little condo in Coronado, a pretty island town in San Diego, about 30 minutes west of El Cajon. We lived in the condo for five years, and it was witness to a full spectrum of life, including the birth of our babies. But as the babies began crawling, Steve and I both knew our days there were numbered.
We rented our condo to an incredibly dear woman, and after trying our best to secure a number of other places, it became clear that we were being beckoned east, back from whence I came.
We put most all of our belongings into a storage unit, and moved in here with my mom, into the only room I had not yet lived in–the bedroom across the hall from the master where my brother grew up. It’s 10×10, and just fits our queen size bed and laundry hamper. The closet has some handy built-ins, so we’re all set.
This has been a season of learning the difference between want and need. I want a Mediterranean-inspired compound, a farmhouse on some acreage, or perhaps anything with a wine cellar. But here I am. Back where it all began, raising my babies in the very rooms where my mom raised me. And, surprisingly, it is all we need.
What’s strange is that I keep getting surprised as I drive around in the neighborhoods most familiar to me in all the world. You’d think, after all these years, this place could never be new to me. But, yet, somehow it is. As many times as I have returned here, I had never noticed how quiet it is. I had either never noticed or never appreciated how the frost turns the grass into something akin to spikes of over-gelled hair every morning, how nicely the hills peer down on us, how the trees soften the foreground, and how relieving/essential it is to be so near a drive-through Starbucks.
Though this is not what I thought my life would have looked like just now, I feel lucky. Lucky to have space for my babies to roam a bit, lucky to have my mom’s help and assurance as I continue to navigate motherhood, lucky to have a husband who puts up with much more than he signed on for. Lucky, most of all, that the doors are always open here.