Running Away, Running Toward

From the annual tulip festival in Washington State

We’ve lost our minds. After carefully planning a trip to Washington State for December, where we are considering moving, we decided we couldn’t wait and booked another trip that starts in two weeks. In the midst of getting a bunch of projects done, cleaning out the house to put it up for sale, and NaNoWriMo, where I will draft a novel in November, we are also scouting our next hometown. Hubby was downright giddy when we set up the trip yesterday afternoon, and we both had difficulty getting to sleep — we’re like little kids at Christmas. This decision to move feels so right in our bones that we want to do it as soon as possible.

30 years ago, when I decided to move to Houston as a young newlywed with in-laws here, I found a wonderful home. In those days long ago, when I was a much younger woman with nothing but adventure on my mind, my friends asked me if I was running away from my life in Illinois. Those were indeed bumpy times, when I was trying to find my way and making a series of bad decisions. Still, I felt as though I wasn’t running away from my life, but running toward it, and this has proven to be true.

This is a lovely city. I live in a great neighborhood near Rice University, we have numerous restaurants in walking distance, and my neighborhood is filled with live oaks that canopy over the streets. Here I found careers, first in the mortgage business and later in the natural gas industry. I have owned homes, divorced and remarried, and made numerous personal discoveries with good friends. I became a stepmom here and felt the mix of pride and pain as they grew up and left home. I live in a cozy, happy home where I learned at 51 that I have a passion for vegetable gardening.

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier, where we hike and Henry bikes.

Yes, it’s hot, and yes, we’ve had a horrible drought…not to mention those nasty mosquitoes I wrote about the other day. Thing is, though, that’s always been a fitting description of Houston. Those things didn’t used to bother us, and the fact that they do now just tells us that it’s time for us to go. We have fallen in love with Washington’s combination of water and mountains, along with its fresh air and mild climate. We want to live in an area where we can enjoy hiking and biking without having to make long drives out of the city to even begin.

These days, Henry’s kids now live elsewhere. Still, they are affected by our decision. It feels to them that we are abandoning Houston and all the memories that we hold of this place. Their grandparents are gone now, and the home they grew up in was lost in a flood some years ago. There is nothing tangible for them to return to, but at the same time, it’s hard to accept that the “old folks” are going to live someplace else.

In a conversation with my stepson, we reflected about home and grief and moving on. I want him to run toward his many dreams, and to do that, I believe we have to set the example by living ours as much as we can. I also think that though both kids are on their own, they still need that final push from the nest so they can fly. From time to time as they try their new wings, they may look back behind them to make sure we are still there, smiling and watching and waving as they edge further and further from home. We will still be there — it will just be in a different place.

Waters at San Juan Island

Clear waters of San Juan Island

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