California Dreaming

Julia and I spent this past weekend in San Diego, where we stayed with my brother and his girlfriend, along with my parents. We spent a few days soaking up sunshine, southern California food, and most notably, time with our family--including a mini-reunion on the beach on Saturday.

I never planned to live so far away from the people I love most. In fact, I can definitively say that I had planned TO live near them, until the allure of Boulder's mountains and sunshine brought me to Colorado almost ten years ago. I didn't plan to live here for the rest of my life; at twenty-three, I just knew I needed a change. "Want to move to Boulder?" a college friend asked. "It's sunny 300 days a year, and there are mountains." So I went. And then I put down roots. I always thought I would move home to New Hampshire before having kids, but the reality was, "having kids"was part of a progression: marriage... jobs...pets...life...baby...rather than a unique event. I'm not sure at what point we would have said, "hold on, we are leaving."

I love Boulder. I love our house and our neighborhood; I love the microbreweries and the mountains. I love that Julia will go to the best public elementary school in Colorado, and I love the friends I've known for years. And yet... The absence of any extended family is palpable. I miss my parents every day. When Julia was born, I was more homesick than I had ever been in my life, which is saying something, since I all but refused sleep overs and overnights until about sixth grade. With Julia's birth, I was suddenly part of something monumental. I gazed at her, lonely in the realization that Scott and I were the only two people within a thousand mile radius who loved her the way only family can. 

When I see Julia with my family, I have a keen sense that things are as they should be. When she reads with my mom, chases Dana, runs with Garrett and Devan and their dogs, life feels full and big and complete. I realized on Saturday, as a group of twelve on the beach, that we were one of the big families I envy when I see them in Boulder. I feel so thankful for technology that keeps us connected- Julia will tell me to "text Nana" to tell her something, and when we Skype with a glass of wine, it's almost as good as the real thing. But I also imagine a parallel life, where I have lunches with my mom and Rena, and where Julia's first overnight is to my parents' house. I envision an alternate future of cousin play dates, of holidays that don't require airline tickets. And now, as Scott and I sit in our cozy home after bedtime,  pets curled at my side, I feel the familiarity of being pulled between happiness with what I have, and a longing for what I do not.