Every time someone hears that we used to live in New Hampshire, they ask the inevitable - and fair - question: "What brought you to Arizona?" And with few exceptions, my answer is a little bit different every single time. Not because I'm unsure, but because there were just so MANY reasons, both large and small. And what I've come to realize, and need to start telling people, is that the truth is really no more simple or complicated than this: This is where our path has always been leading us... way back before there even was an "us", way back before I painted that southwestern landscape picture in high school.
This is just where we're meant to be for now. Will we stay here forever? I don't know. What I do know is that as we're approaching our sixth year, we have not even an inkling of being led to move somewhere else, a feeling that surfaced well before year number six in both Worcester, MA, and Andover, NH.
When we moved, even though it was a positive move for us, there was some major external yuck that surrounded it. There were strong reactions, and stronger words, and we ending up leaving with some severely hurt feelings.... and we were not alone. It took some perspective that only time could provide, but I eventually came to see the situation from all sides. And it just felt lousy all the way around. I wished for a long time that I could delete it all, that I could go back and erase entire conversations, entire emails, entire periods of time. I wished that I could forget, because I hated knowing that something that was originally so exciting for our family had gotten mired in such negativity and sadness for multiple parties.
Fortunately, there's sometimes truth to the cliche that states that time heals all wounds. Time did in fact heal the wound. The feeling of sadness about the way we parted ways with New Hampshire inevitably became replaced with feelings of happiness about our new life in Arizona.
The only reason that I am thinking of it now is that last week we saw Mike's brother and his family for the first time since we moved here 5 1/2 years ago. His parents have been here several times now, and his youngest brother came out two years ago, but Joe and Allison had not been here yet. Although we'd all more-or-less kept in touch through Facebook (the blessing and curse that it is) I felt like we'd never truly "complete" with his family until we'd all actually SEEN each other again, in person, in a positive setting.
And it really was a great visit. Even looking from the outside you could see that.
We went to the zoo
Went to the AZ Museum of Natural History
Hiked in the red rocks of Sedona
Watched the newly acquainted cousins play and play
Made cupcakes and cookies and pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream.
Went out to eat
Stayed up late and laughed. A lot.
Beyond all of that though, it made me feel as though we'd come full circle. It made me feel as though we'd simultaneously moved forward, and moved back.... not back to the way things were when we moved, but back before that, back before we'd even decided to move, back when things were simpler. Back to those days a hundred years ago when we'd all hang out in Mike's parents' backyard on Sunday afternoons. Only this time we all brought six more years of maturity, six more years of parenthood, six more years of perspective. We got to watch our children meet for the very first time, and we got to catch up - for real, not in the way you catch up by reading 140 character status updates.
We did much-needed things you just can't do long distance, and I'm forever thankful that we got that opportunity. It only took five and half years.