When I was a kid my sister and I would ride our bikes through the neighborhood deciding on the two best houses that were side by side — because we were going to be next door neighbors. If I walked through my backyard and crossed the bridge my dad built I was at my aunt and uncle’s house, which just happened to be next door to my cousin’s house, and down the street from my grandfather’s house. When you grow up like that and love it, like I did, you can’t imagine life any other way.
So it is sometimes strange that I have found myself somewhere else entirely. I expected to be down the street from my sister and minutes away from family birthday parties and dinners. I wanted my kids to have the magical childhood that I did. One filled with friends you’ve known forever, cousins that aren’t strangers, and bike rides to swim practice with nothing but your towel around your neck and your goggles on your handlebars. Less than a year ago I didn’t even know Newport existed and now we are raising our daughter here.
It’s the end of June and we’re still wearing jeans and long sleeves. We put our sandals on and try to wear short sleeves because it’s going to be 60 and not 55! We go outside and it’s the absence, not presence, of cicadas that’s deafening. Summer swim team may happen, I don’t know, but it’s indoors and a thunderstorm would be about as likely as a snowstorm.
Those things that just spell summer to me do not exsist here. It’s like I’m waiting for something that may never happen — like living next door to my sister or across town from my parents or even getting back to Virginia. And this dream I’ve had for myself since I was a little girl is inside this balloon. I’m holding on to the string desperate not to lose my grip, but I know there are only two choices: let it go freely or cling to it and watch it wither. So I find myself slowly letting go because in my wanting to give Abigail a cheap recreation of the childhood I had, I am depriving myself of seeing the magic in the one she is making for herself.
Like the thrill of a golf course emptied out for the day with green grass stretching in every direction. Nothing but room to run after your daddy in your favorite too small hoodie and new shoes. Conquering the slight undulations in the earth as if they were mountains. And a laugh that echoes through the trees and may just touch the ocean.
Sitting there on the 6th hole with Hank beside me I knew I was watching magic. So if letting go of my own notions of what childhood should be gives Abigail room to create one all her own then I’m up for the adventure. To the unknown. Together.