It’s been 6 years almost to the day, that we moved from Oak Park, IL to Minnetonka, MN. Six whole years.
I remember when we first moved. We hugged neighbors that had become family and promised to keep in touch and visit as much as we could. Then we moved and one of our children was so traumatized that it was recommended that we didn’t visit. It might be a trigger and be too much. So we waited. Then Covid hit and all bets were off. One night a few months ago I remembered that MEA break was coming up. Let’s search rentals, I suggested. We found the perfect location, within walking distance to everything we loved about our village. We booked it. Then covid got worse again and it feels strange and not perfect to visit now, but when will it ever?
We were driving home from the cabin this last weekend when we started talking about our upcoming trip to Chicago. “What would you want to do and see? What do you remember?” The children rambled off lists of excursions. “The aquarium, millennium park! Maggie Daley, the Botanic Gardens!” ALL things that Ian did alone with the kids on Saturday mornings while I would get my 5 minutes peace.
I was devastated. We stopped at the grand rapids brewery as is our new tradition and as we waited for our flat breads and nachos I sobbed. Ian grabbed my hand and told the children “mom is OK!” but am I? What was the purpose of my life those eight years if not to pour myself into my children.
Don’t you want to see the bakery that I walked to every Tuesday to get bread for the week? The splash pad we spent all summer at? The library we went to every story time at? Musikgarten, where we spent a small fortune instilling the love of rhythm and harmony into your tiny bones? Surely you remember Pilgrim where I walked you to school each morning, Rehm Park right up the street where I spent countless hours trying to keep Ainsley from running over the bridge and Louise simultaneously in the sand pit. How about the parks? Approximately 7 within walking distance where I planned play dates and we spent our mornings meeting up with friends? The Trader Joe’s where we were known so well that when I stopped going in they asked Mom if I’d had my baby. I had! Felix!
You could see my tears welling and Ian spoke about the impact that I had made in our home. That little 1200 square-foot space where I hunkered in with our three children and made the beginning of our life together. There were so many days spent within those walls. Especially in the cold Chicago winters. We would orchestrate whole day extravaganzas. Tea parties where we would write invitations to our stuffed animals, then bake the treats, then set up the table. Then dress the part, then set the tone with music and lighting and enjoy the whole afternoon after a labor of a hard days work. There were sick days and rainy days or cold days where we would find ways to spend our days fully and beautifully together. I cried at the brewery remembering the poignancy of those years. Even while they were happening I knew how special they were and I knew that I would never experience the like of them again. And here I am with two almost teenagers and I’m glad that I knew what I had when I had it.
Today I was looking at the rental with the children. They are all so confused the concept of a 2 flat. “But it looks like a house mom”, “I know, but it’s a house that separated into two different apartments. We’ll be staying on the top floor while someone else lives on the bottom floor”. I can’t wait to see the reaction to this home away from home. See what their souls remember of the first years of their lives. My soul aches for the time that we had there. I can only be thankful for knowing what I had when I had it.
In 37.5 and completely in the thick of it. I am so melancholy about the passing of time and so over the brim grateful too. My children get to see where they were born this weekend. They get to ride the trains and walks the sidewalks where they began their journey on this earth. I get to look in my husband’s steely blue eyes and remember how we started. All alone, for 6.8 whole years. We did it. And here we are today, more in love, more hopeful than I ever could have imagined.
Oak Park, here, we, come.