It’s been just over a year since we moved, immigrated, back to the USA from Ireland.
Evelyn is going on 5 years old. She’s started forgetting things, like how her Nana’s house looked, or what her little cousins’ names are, or who our doting neighbours there were. She remembers a lot of funny little things, but not always the details and persons we so wish she’d recall. Shea, on the other hand, was just 6 months old when we moved, now 19 months. He remembers nothing from our former life, and only knows his Irish family from waving and blowing kisses to them over Skype.
Moving so far away from the people and places you love has to be done for a lot of really solid reasons. And, once you’re gone, and homesick, and looking back and questioning why, somewhere along the lines you better feel, in your heart, that it was worth it. The sacrifices led to something better.
My earliest personal memories come from the summer I was 3 years old. I remember that summer in very vivid bits and pieces because it was my family’s first big road trip, from Bozeman to Seattle. My parents packed up our little black Buick Skylark, buckled my sisters and me into the back seat and headed off, nearly 700 miles West. I remember being afraid of everything on that trip – The Space Needle, the ferries, the shower in our motel! I remember playing with my cousin, Paul, and I remember my Uncle Mac dropping an ear of buttered corn on the cob onto the floor and all of us laughing. I remember my mother getting a bee stuck up her pants. I remember posing for a lot of boring pictures. I remember the Sees candy shop with its little playhouse. I remember my dad prying starfish off the rocks in a tidal pool and leaving them in the trunk of our car until the smell became unbearable. I remember rain forests, and my hooded rain coat and miniature villages on display in Victoria, BC. And, perhaps the strongest sensory memory of all is simply the one of sitting in that back seat, in traffic, the rain drops racing each other down the widows, and listening to a Simon & Garfunkel tape over and over again. “I’m sittin’ in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination, Mmmmhmm…”
I could be anywhere in the world and hear the first few bars of that song and be instantly transported back to Seattle, and my 3 year-old self.
I don’t know if it’s irony, or destiny, but by this time next weekend, our little family will be homeward bound to Seattle. Yes – you read it right – after just a year, we’re packing up our things, selling what we can, saying goodbye to friends, and moving again. And adding another 2300 miles to the distance already between us and Ireland.
A lot of folks think we’re crazy, though they may use more complimentary descriptions like “brave” or “strong” when they’re in our company. I certainly feel more crazy than brave, ha ha, but I am actually really at peace with this decision, and even excited about it. Frank never feels the need to explain himself or justify his decisions to anyone, the way I do, he just rests in his own confidence that we’re doing what is best for our family. And he’s right. But I’ve still struggled with feeling like we’ve let people down by not staying, and I’ve been telling them our reasons most convincingly.
The truth of it shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, not to those who know us well. We’re in our 30’s now, and we’re ready to get out of limbo and find where we belong. Not Frank’s home, or my home, because those don’t really fit us anymore, but a place where we can and will invest ourselves, as a family, fully and passionately. I had a very happy life in Indianapolis as a singleton, but when we came here a year ago, it was without really knowing if we’d want to stay for the long haul. We had to use Frank’s visa by a certain date, and we didn’t know where we wanted to be, really, so we chose a familiar place where we knew we’d be met by friends. Over the last year, we’ve looked in to other cities, and debated over staying or going, and finally, a few weeks ago, decided to go. At this point, we don’t have a lot to lose – no mortgage, our car is running well, the kids aren’t in school yet, neither of us are fully invested in a current career path, etc. We haven’t collected a lot of stuff. We’re healthy. And we’re ready for a change – and, we both have faith that Seattle will be a good match.
As before, it won’t be easy. Life is hard, no matter how you measure it. But life is also short, and Frank and I both believe in pursuing our gifts and passions while we still have a good chance to lay the ground work. If we waited another five years to try another big move, or even another year, our lives might be totally different, and infinitely more complicated.
It’s hard leaving Indiana again, especially this time of year, when so many of my own memories here feel so near. Autumn in Indiana was always my favourite, from the leafy colours to the pumpkin patches to the apple orchards… and, of course, many Heartland Film Festivals and my four years at Anderson University. I will miss my 10 year Homecoming, so we went up to see the campus a couple weeks ago and I got downright emotional when I opened the door to Nicholson Library and it smelled the same. The years have gone by so fast, and so much, SO MUCH, has changed, yet this place is still sewn and woven and patched into every part of me. Even Reggie Miller still makes my heart beat a little faster.
But change is good. Even failure is good. And, perhaps for the first time ever, I have faith that, no matter what lies ahead, we’ll be OK. God’s got us.
Our friends and family have been so supportive, and continue to be so now. We can never repay the kindnesses received, but we do hope to pay it forward to others, one day soon. And, really, that is kind of what it’s all about in a way – if others sacrificed so much to help us out, hadn’t we better make sure it’s been worth it?
I truly believe that good things are coming for The Kellys. We are full of ideas, hopes, secrets, ambitions. We have things we want to try that maybe we were too comfortable or too nervous to pursue before. We’re excited to get in our minivan and start driving through the Wild West, not stopping until we can smell the sea again. We’re looking forward to making a lifetime of new memories and, with any luck, finally finding “home,” within ourselves and within our surroundings.
I imagine our playlist will look a little different than the one I listened to with my parents and sisters nearly 30 years ago. I’m queuing up Hozier, Coldplay, Jamie Cullum, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Ed Sheeran, The Strypes, and more. Evelyn will be begging for the “Frozen” soundtrack and her Jesus music. But I must admit, it’s going to be a sweet day when we finally cross into the Olympic Peninsula and Simon & Garfunkel are comfortably lulling us towards our new home, and our new life.
Best Indiana Memories 2013 -2014:
1. Indiana State Fair
2. Fall day out at Appleworks
3. The Children’s Museum, the IMA, the Indiana State Museum and The Zoo
4. The Indy 500 Parade
5. Garfield Park, Ellenberger Park, Shawn Grove Park, Flowing Well Park, Broad Ripple Park, Eagle Creek, Southeastway Park
6. Thunderstorms, Sunsets and Fireflies
7. The Central Library
8. Great pizza, great beer, great ice cream (not so great waistlines!)
9. Evelyn’s preschool, swim lessons and ballet all at the YMCA
10. The Monon Trail and the Indianapolis Art Center
11. Woodruff Place Flea Market and other wonderful finds in antique shops and second-hand stores
12. Christ Church Cathedral on The Circle
13. Any time we got to see friends – our welcome back party, book clubs, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, lunches, coffees, drinks, play dates and seeing the ol’ HFF gang at Nine Irish Brothers last week.