Wednesday, March 16, 2016
In just a few days, we will leave the state I chose to call home. Massachusetts first became home when I was a teenager --thanks to the Air Force assigning my dad (and our family) when I was in middle school.
From those formative years, I have so many fond memories of doing the quintessential New England things. My memories are of vivid of apple picking, visits to Old North Bridge and walking the Freedom Trail in Boston with my grandparents and other relatives who visited us.
I remember those years as some of the happiest, primarily because my mom was healthy and my parents made an effort to get to know New England since it was new to all four of us. My younger brother played ice hockey and got to travel to Lake Placid and Montreal for tournaments. I was part of my high school marching band and saw a lot of MA while traveling for parades and football games. My first memories of Boston's South End came from the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. Although I'm not Irish, I learned to appreciate so much of my husband's ancestry from my time living in MA.
My family moved to back to Colorado while I was in college intending to spend the rest of their lives there. A year after they returned to CO, my mom passed away from complications related to a recurrence of cancer.
During my college and grad school years living in CO, I stayed in touch with high school friends and visited MA whenever I could. When I moved back to the east coast to begin my career in Baltimore, I found myself making weekend trips to Massachusetts.
The state was wooing me back. In a lot of ways it was the home I chose. When I moved back in 2008, I had no idea how long I'd be there, but I felt so at home with the brilliantly colored leaves each autumn and the snowy winters. Although I've never loved the beach (sand gets in everything), I felt obligated to spend at least one day there each summer.
East coast spring is what I may miss the most. The budding trees remind me of my mom; she loved to garden and had a beautiful one during my high school years. I cannot look at a crocus without hearing her say "they're the promise that spring is on its way" (she disliked the cold and snow). While Colorado has seasons, the plants and flowers that grow are not the same as the eastern US.
I chose MA and it loved me back for seven and a half glorious years-- giving me a husband, lifelong friendships, and became the birthplace of our two children. I had a fantastic day job that was the right mix of rewarding and challenging. We owned our first home and poured a lot of time and energy into fixing it up over the five years we lived in it.
My heart is torn between loving two places- Colorado and Massachusetts- and consider them both my home. It's a struggle that's plagued me since my first year of college when my parents still lived in MA. I've lived in each state at least twice; accruing 11 years in Colorado and nearly 14 years in Massachusetts.
This is my farewell to a state that has given me more than I could have asked. While I never drank Dunkin' Donuts coffee like so many natives, I'll miss the familiar pink and orange signs on nearly every street corner. I'm going to miss the accents of dropped and added "r"s to so many words. But most of all, I will miss the fiercely loyal friends I've made.