Last week, my wife and I moved out of the house where we raised our kids.
In the busy run-up to the moment when the moving van edged down the driveway to begin carting our lives to a new location, people kept asking me whether I was getting emotional about selling our home of 25 years.
My wife surely was. My daughter really, really was. My son, laconic as always, allowed that he felt “sad.”
But me – I was most focused (obsessed, really) on the complicated choreography of buying and selling houses – mortgages, inspections, utilities and so on.
Normally a sentimental person, I’d turned into a Vulcan, a pragmatic Mr. Spock.
What is wrong with you, my wife would ask? How can you be so matter of fact? Don’t you have any feelings about this?
I’d shrug, “It’ll probably hit me like a ton of bricks at some point.”
That point came last Thursday morning, at about 11.
As the movers loaded up up the long van, I stood at the back of our yard, by the swing set that I’d bought years ago to soothe 5-year-old Sara’s anxieties about our last move. I looked across the wisteria bush whose wandering ways I’d battled for two decades.
And the memories flooded me.
Bundled up toddlers screaming with delight as the little hill by the wisteria gave them their first, safe thrill of a sled ride.
Fast forward 15 years, to the backyard party that celebrated the simultaneous graduations of a daughter from college and a son from high school, the party where my son’s friend KP ate, oh, I don’t know, 37 hot dogs from the rotating grill I’d rented.
Christmases in the family room on other side of that picture window, a treasured early morning riot of silly clues on boxes, ripped paper and cries of delight.
Octobers in that same family room, as my kids got to stay up late to watch the World Series with Dad – excited at the treat, but a little frightened by his screams and outbursts as his team headed for anguish in a seventh game.
And games, games, games – capture the flag in the backyard, Clue at the kitchen table, Friday night Texas Hold-’em tournaments organized by my son, with a dozen or more of his motley crew seated at tables around the family and living rooms. Sure, they were gambling (shocking, just shocking) but we knew where they were and that they weren’t drinking.
That white colonial with the Bradford pear in front (Sara and I planted it) was home to a lot of laughter, a lot of conversation, a lot of homework over the years. It did its job.
I’ve noticed this about a lot of people: They swiftly get judgmental about where other people live. City types mock the ‘burbs as the geography of nowhere, Whitebreadville. Suburbanites return the scorn, carrying on about cities as corrupt, costly, dysfunctional Gomorrahs.
Why blame people who are lucky enough to have a choice for living where it makes sense for their family?
For a long time, our colonial on (horrors) a cul-de-sac made sense for the people I love most in the world. Now, we’re ready for a new adventure. I loved where we lived; I hope to love where we’re going.
It’s all one region, this Philadelphia, and all in all, a place well worth loving.