If I got to vote on my own high-school superlative, it would not have been most likely to stay. I wanted to be a pilot, a flight attendant, someone famous enough that I got to travel and have someone else pay for it. I wanted to be a photographer and share the world from behind a lens.
But life has a way of happening in small moments, and suddenly I’m 30 with a typical young mom’s life.
On Sundays, I go to church. I drop off my children and say hello to the two directors of children’s ministry. One was my little sister’s preschool teacher. The other I remember playing beside my sister in the nursery. During service this weekend, I sat beside my parents and my grandmother in the same pew I fidgeted in as a child.
On Mondays, my kids go to daycare at the in-home center my mom started in 1993. They play with my childhood toys, take naps in my childhood bedroom. I drive to a Starbucks near the bank where I worked my first job, a Starbucks that shares a parking lot with the Target I worked at one summer in college. The small moments have conspired to keep me right where I’ve always been.
This summer, I took my children to Big Truck Day, a neighborhood event hosted at the high school my husband attended. We didn’t date then, but we knew each other, and I went to a play and a football game with my future husband and a group of our mutual friends. We wandered the same asphalt where our children now grab our hands.
Next September, I’ll almost certainly take my daughter to kindergarten orientation at the school I attended in first through fifth grade.
My husband and I talk sometimes about how so many of our friends moved away. How we forget our own ages and experience because we never left. We get tempted to uproot and move somewhere cheaper or with better jobs or because we’re adults for goodness’ sake and we can.
In a world of increasing nomadism, I’m glad we stayed.
I’m glad the church where I was baptized is the church my kids run through on Sunday mornings. I’m looking forward to saying hello to some teachers next year as I introduce my daughter to her new school. I like driving by the places that comprise my memories on a regular basis.
My town has changed. It’s gotten more crowded and more expensive. I’ve changed, too, but I’ve stayed. Through street construction and church renovations and friend after friend moving away for adventures of their own, I have stayed. Every place I remember calling home is within 15 miles of my current address. While my heart is attached to people who moved away, I’ve left my heart in no other place.
I still have wanderlust. I still ache to see the world. But at the end of the day, even in an age where it feels like a cop-out, a relic from a bygone era, I’m so glad this is still my home. My roots beside the Willamette are deep. My parents are here, my sister, my grandmother. Some cousins. All our stories.
My 4-year-old has been on four airplanes in her life. Every time we’ve landed she’s asked me when she can fly again, already as enthralled with travel as her mother. She wants to be a pilot. Maybe she’ll do it, wandering the world, looking for adventure in the great wide somewhere and finding it.
Or maybe, just maybe, she’ll plant her own roots and stay.
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