Coming East—Coming Home

My daughter recently wrote an entry on her wonderful blog (mypajamadays.com) about how difficult it was for her when her dad and I sold the home in San Antonio she grew up in and moved to Virginia Beach.  Mind you, she hadn’t lived there in ages, has been happily married and living in Michigan for many years with a terrific husband and two beautiful daughters in a house ten times grander than the one she grew up in, yet the loss of her house in Texas made her a little sad and homesick.

Ironically, I’ve been thinking about that sense of home for quite a few years now, so I understand where my daughter is coming from.  I grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut, for me the sweetest little town in America.  I pictured raising a family there one day.  Life, of course, takes you on quite a ride and leads you far from home sometimes, and there is not much you can do but hold on tight.  After six years of marriage, my husband and I moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania with two small children in tow and another one on the way.  After two years there, we moved to Texas, and there we stayed and raised our children through elementary, middle, high school, and college.

Since then all three of our children moved far away from us, our daughter to Michigan, our sons to Boston.  I began to think more and more about Fairfield, how much I missed it, how much I wanted to move back, to move home, even though I haven’t lived there in nearly forty years.  If my children had stayed in Texas…if even one had stayed in Texas…we wouldn’t have moved.  We loved San Antonio and Austin and had many dear friends there.  But without the children, it felt so lonely.  We desperately wanted to move back east.  I became my husband’s headhunter and after a year of searching, I found a great job for him in Virginia Beach, two hours from my brother and his family.  The East Coast again!  One day’s drive to Connecticut and Boston.  One day’s drive to my husband’s family and our dearest friends we’ve kept in touch with during all these long years away.  One day’s drive from our children.

Fairfield isn’t the same, obviously, as when I lived there.  The Fairfield Department Store, Trudy’s, and the stationery store, among others, have been replaced with chain stores.  My elementary school is now a public parking lot.  The last house I lived in was knocked down and a 2.2 million dollar home was built on our lot, and none of my family is still there.  My parents and little sister are all dead, and my brother lives in Virginia.

But when we go to Fairfield, I picture things the way they were.  I see myself hanging onto my dad’s neck as he swims laps at the beach with me on his back, I drive by the Congregational church where my mother was president of the Women’s Fellowship, I picture myself marching down the Old Post Road on Memorial Day in my white pleated skirt and bright red shirt, playing the bell lyre in the school band.  I always eat at Rawley’s, still the best hot dog joint on the planet and the place my dad would take us every Friday night when he came home with his paycheck.  I feel home.

A few days before my mother died, I sat and listened to her talk.  It was our last conversation.  Did she talk about her life with my dad, whom she adored, or how much she had loved being our mother?  No, though we understood those things to be true.  Her last thoughts were about growing up in Irvine, Kentucky with her mother and father and brother.  Playing silly children’s games, swimming in the river, going to school, the only responsibilities to keep her room picked up and the table set.  She pictured her little family whole again.  She pictured home.

Yes, I realize that you can’t ever really go home again because nothing stays the same and you don’t want to live in the past.  But I think we tend to sift out all the painful moments we had growing up and see a place where we felt safe, where we felt loved, where the stresses of life hadn’t fully reached us yet.  It was one idyllic instant that still shines in our heart.  Home is not a physical place.  It is a memory.  Close your eyes and go home.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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32 Responses to Coming East—Coming Home

  1. You are truly one of my favorite bloggers, and this very post shows why. I’m so glad you’ve decided to share your heart with us!

  2. I love this post as much now as I did when you first wrote it – but we’ve made some wonderful memories at your new place too. In fact, The Hare doesn’t even remember your old house. Crazy, right?

    • comingeast says:

      Wow, I can’t believe she doesn’t remember the other house! But I’m glad she thinks of this house when she things about us. I’m starting to get attached to this little house. Certainly has better bathrooms than the old house!

  3. Robin says:

    This is such a wonderful post. I’m so glad you decided to replay it.

    I moved away from New Jersey, where I grew up, almost 35 years ago and yet I still think of it as home in a way. Not home as in the home I’ve established with my husband, but a distant home, a home of memories. It has changed immensely over the years, but it somehow still has the same feel, something you mentioned in your post.

    By the way, we lived in West Chester for a year (in 2007). 🙂

    • comingeast says:

      So glad we connected with the same feelings, Robin. We only lived in West Chester for two years (1978-19790, but we liked it very much. We lived off of Goshen Road.

  4. vivinfrance says:

    Too many moves in my life, but yes, I still dream about the house where I was born. I enjoyed your trip down memory lane, it made me realise how very big the USA is compared with the small island where I grew up. Thank you for re-sharing it.

  5. Patti Ross says:

    Thanks for sharing–or re-sharing–your first post. The reminder that we can go home simply closing our eyes and remembering is wise and caring. And thank goodness you are right about that. But there is also something special about literally going home–to better see what once was! It makes me think of the old movie, “Trip to Bountiful.”

  6. What a heartfelt post! Your sentence…”It was one idyllic moment that still shines in our heart” brought tears to my eyes.
    It was wonderful to have you repost your first writing. It made me think of how often we meet people and have just a tidbit of information about them but time fills in some of the blanks.
    Thank you for resharing..

  7. judithhb says:

    Susan what a lovely post and for it to be your first. Amazing.
    When I ran my Memories Course my mantra was “Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money and they can take away your health; but no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
    Go home often Susan in your memories and enjoy the life you lived then. I am closing my eyes and I am going home. Thank you.:)

  8. What a touching, beautiful first post, Susan! The last few lines had me in tears. You are such an eloquent writer.

    I often think back to remember my childhood home and I can almost feel like I’m there again, remembering the smells and the sights and sounds. I wish I could go back and visit it, but it was moved by L.L. Bean’s (their hunting store is right on top of my old bedroom!) In fact, the entire block I grew up on is a parking lot now. Sad, but I had a great childhood there, riding bikes and playing hide-n-seek. And nothing can take away my memories. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post!

    • comingeast says:

      Hey, I think I may have walked through your old bedroom when I made my L.L. Bean pilgrimage a few years ago. You’re right, nothing can take away our memories.

  9. huffygirl says:

    Wonderful post. The seven people who read the original were lucky. This brought tears to my eyes and evoked the same feelings I have had as I’ve been settling my parent’s estate. The home in which I grew up is old and empty, but the memories are still there. Congratulations on your blogaversary!

  10. Julia says:

    This is a beautiful first post, Susan! I’m so glad I read it — I too have searched for home and written about it frequently (although without the roots you had to start from). You captured the universal feelings so well. What a nice kick-off for your blog (and the new blogging year). So glad we’ve connected via our blogs! xo, Julia

    • comingeast says:

      I hadn’t read this first post in months and months, and I’d forgotten what I’d said in it. Made me a little pensive. Our hearts are made to want to go home. Thanks, Julia.

  11. Dor says:

    Bet you have hundreds of readers for this post now Susan. Your first entry is so poignant and such a wonderful introduction to all that was to come. How privileged we are to be able to peek into some of the stories of your life.

    • comingeast says:

      Au contraire, Dor. The pleasure is for me, that anyone outside my family would even be interested in reading. It constantly amazes me. Thanks so much, my friend.

  12. gaycarboys says:

    I grew up in Fairfield. LOL But in Brisbane (or as the locals call it, Brisvegas). Thin threads:)

  13. You are right there’s no lace like hom but we can go there in our memories. My homplace still stands but has long been bought and sold by several different owners I imagine. I go by there sometimes and the tree I played on as a child still stands in the backyard, the fruit trees my dad planted are there, the plants my planted up by the front drive were there…. It’s sad for me in a way because they are both gone and someone else has the yard I played in with their trees and plants.

    Why am I spilling my guts to you Susan? Don’t know I guess you just bring that out in people. You’re a listener… I think. thanks for the great post. Congrats on your anniversary.

    • comingeast says:

      Go ahead and spill those guts! I love to read your thoughts. I know; doesn’t it make you want to knock on the door and tell those people you once lived there? Every time we drive by the first house I grew up in in Fairfield, the one that is still there, I park in front for a few minutes, hoping someone will come out so I can talk to them. Is that creepy? Maybe I should write a blog post about it.

      • No I do that sometimes except i want them to come out so I can ask if they will let me have a sprig of one of my mom’s plants so i can root it and grow it at my house. That’s weird right?

      • comingeast says:

        Whew! If you have those same urges, Julie, I don’t feel nearly so weird anymore. If they are nice people, I’ll be they would give you a cutting. Be bold!

  14. Shafzy says:

    “Home is not a physical place. It is a memory. Close your eyes and go home.” …..that is really deep… lovely post… feeling so homesick now… Its blistering hot and very dusty here in Kuwait, and lovely rain and cool breeze back home in India.. I think im gonna keep my eyes closed for the rest of the day..

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