Change is a happenin’ around here. In the span of two weeks, we have welcomed new neighbors, and said “farewell” to my stepson and his girlfriend as they set off across the country to put down new roots on the West Coast. These two events were unrelated and their timing was coincidental but I couldn’t help but think of the saying “whenever one door closes, another door opens.”
It’s hard sometimes to know which is more difficult to do — say hello, or say goodbye. Both are quite capable of brewing up some level of anxiety. The hellos can easily trigger a bit of self-doubt. “Hi new neighbors, can we be friends?” Chewing your lip, you’re thinking, are we cool/fun/smart/friendly/all-of-the-above enough to be friends? And then there’s the realization they will be front and center for all of your bad habits and the inevitable meltdowns. Enjoy the free show — it’s bound to be entertaining!
But, in our case, we’ve lucked out and the anxiety level with this welcome was quite low. Our new neighbors are actually a family that we’ve known for a few years and really like. And, jackpot, they have children just about the same age as ours. When the house was on the market and various prospective buyers stopped in for showings, my husband and I would sometimes entertain ourselves by envisioning our potential neighbors. It was like window-shopping in reverse — us in the window, looking out, making predictions about the people touring the house, the likelihood they’d end up purchasing it, and what kind of neighbors they’d make. It’s ironic, and comforting, that in the end, our new neighbors end up being not so new after all.
We welcomed our neighbors (ahem, a couple weeks late) with a welcome garland. Have I mentioned how much I love making garlands? So easy but fun and a great way to get creative.
They make an easy party decoration.
Or colorful kid’s room decor, too. Felt, thread, scissors, machine, and you’re good to go. Cut the desired shapes and feed them through the machine in a line.
And since my son has been asking for a garland for his room ever since I hung this one in the nursery, I should probably stop talking about how easy they are, and get to work making his!
Goodbyes are tricky – even when they are good goodbyes. You want to be truly excited for the person you are sending off, but you’re also battling with your selfish desire to keep that person close. Before their move, my stepson and his girlfriend were living in Boston. Not exactly next door to us here on the border of New Haven, Connecticut, but certainly close enough that a road trip of a couple hours could resolve any longings for home. Of course, admittedly, we didn’t take enough advantage of their proximity. We talked a lot about making day trips to Beantown, but since a day trip anywhere with young children requires almost the same amount of planning and travel gear as a month’s vacation, we were much heavier on the talk than the action part of the equation. But still, California pretty much erases the possibility of a spur-of-the-moment trip for dinner together. Thankfully technology will help bridge the gap.
It is exciting that they are moving to California. I have never traveled farther west than Chicago, so I can live vicariously through their travels westward. And, now I have a really good reason to visit California! I also admire their boldness in leaving behind family, friends and jobs here and starting completely fresh in a new place where they have no connections. It’s almost like the geographical version of “why climb that mountain?” Why move to San Diego? Because it’s there. I guess that in the twenty-something crowd that can be called a spirit of adventure. I’m betting that a similar move by parents with young children and corresponding responsibilities might be called something more akin to a dereliction of duty, or at the very least frowned upon greatly by the grandparents. Still, it never hurts to daydream.
They are headed West on a meandering route that includes some visits with friends and family and a little national park called the Grand Canyon. So I returned to my humble bag-making beginnings, and sent them off with a tote bag of road trip essentials. Well, actually, I forgot to include a couple rolls of toilet paper; hopefully I didn’t jinx them with that omission. But I did include maps! And then my husband asked, “do people even use real, paper maps anymore? Don’t they use their phones for that kind of stuff?” He’s probably right. But in my day-dreamy, romanticized version of a cross-country road trip, maps seemed so appropriate and relevant. Maybe they’ll be good for something else? Killing a bug or two, makeshift umbrella, stand-in for the omitted toilet paper, you never know?
So, go west, young man (and woman). Have a wonderful experience and never stop looking for the next adventure! Just don’t forget to write and call and send lots of pictures.