Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Great Falls, VA: I've Been Here How Long?

Driving home from the main street of my little town in the suburbs, along the traffic-y but still somewhat bucolic Georgetown Pike, I see that the cul-de-sac across the street from the white farmhouse is having their annual yardsale.  They have the sign up that they have up every year: a standing yellow folding message board with mismatching letters advertising this multi-family event.  It dawns on me that this is the sixth time I've seen that sign with those colorful letters.

The farm across the street has unbelievably large, grassy fields used for nothing more than to impress upon passers-by that green spaces still exist.  The white farmhouse sits far back from the road; across it rests an old barn that might or might not be filled with treasures from the farm's previous life.  My eyes glance at the six, maybe seven, beautiful green acres, nicely flat with a few trees here and there.  That farm was for sale; it just sold, and the developer's sign boasts a whole new smattering of large mansions on this now-green spot.  I'm disappointed.

I've lived in Great Falls for six years.  I've lived here long enough to know well what the landscape looks like in every season, not just glorious Spring.  I know where Beach Mill and Walker Road get washed out when it rains cats and dogs--and how, after an hour after the rain stops, Beach Mill should be passable, but Walker will need more time.  I've seen little old houses and the stories that went with them reduced to rubble in a few hours.  I've watched how grand, new spaces--three, four times the size of the previous house--stand impressively and impossibly tall on that same site within months.

As the daughter of a Soldier, as a girl who happily moved from one state to the next every two to three years, as the young woman who traveled across Asia for a few years out of college, six years in one house, in one town feels like forever.

Journeys were part of my life, first by necessity, and then by choice.  I soaked in a few years each in Savannah, Schofield Barracks, Seattle.  I spent months in shocking Calcutta, weeks in the high Himalayas, and days in a smattering of exotic, amazing Indian cities.  I spent a few years in Thailand--my official role was teaching teachers, but I think I logged more hours reading books and journaling about the past, present, and future than actually teaching.

And now, I am here.  I'm still here.  I've not moved.  And, after a particularly restless two years, I'm trying to breathe deeply and settle into my life here as gracefully as I can (which means not very gracefully).  I'm beginning to realize how much there is to learn about myself when I am still.  This is not a comfortable sort of lesson-learning--I much prefer the known excitement of movement.  When still, when faced with a beautiful but not spontaneous routine with three joyful but demanding children and one loyal but complicated husband, I actually face myself in a way I never have before.

Please forgive the fact that postcards from here are less glorious.

10 comments:

  1. Careful, before you know it that familiarity will be security!! Reminds me of my farm days. We had agents out to put it on the marked after 2 years, changed our minds and we stayed 21 years! The video shop guy saw my kids rent movies from the Wiggles to The Good Wife series, I liked that. I loved how honest you were with your restlessness and lack of grace and it was a great description of what your little patch of the world looks like.

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    1. Thank you, Tracey! Thought we were moving but…well,…nope. For better or for worse, we're staying put. Part me is happy, the restless part is…still figuring out what to think as I unpack our POD...

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  2. Oh, I SO enjoyed your slice! Thank you for sharing it! I can definitely relate to: "When still, when faced with a beautiful but not spontaneous routine with joyful but demanding three small children and one loyal but complicated husband... I actually face myself in a way I never have before." Beautifully stated!

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    1. Thank you so much. Settling IN vs exploring is a hard thing for me!

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  3. What an exciting life! And now it seems that settling is the thing to do. My parents are in the same house they built when I was 7, and I have moved 5 times in 20 years. I have now been here, in Canada, long enough to feel like this is home.

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    1. 5 times in 20 years sounds about right…it's hard for me to think of my kids being in one house for their entire childhoods! But there is beauty in that--a whole lot of beauty in that...

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  4. There is so much I love about this. Particularly the paragraph about the farm. The ending is perfection too. But throughout you weave a story. I'm glad you stayed and got to experience all that you did. From someone who has been in the same place for all my life, I envy the wanderlust a bit. :-)

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  5. All that moving...and then settling in to settling down. I love the way you concluded - the essence of what constitutes home.

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  6. I love so much about your slice but mostly it connected me to those 4 years as a newly-wed when I live in Alexandria Virginia - a Navy bride so to speak and a newbie teacher. We LOVE Great Falls...and IF we could have stayed it was one of the places where we WOULD have loved to settle. We moved on...as life would have us...but we sometimes wondered what life would have been like if we had settled where we dreamed!

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    1. I'm glad to help send you down memory lane! My sister and father live in Alexandria--so I know this whole "NoVA" area really well…

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