Where is home for me?
Six months ago, we packed up our life in Highland Park, and moved to Phoenix. We had our last breakfast at Once Upon a Bagel, and then got in our cars and headed West. As we were leaving Highland Park for the last time, I broke down and cried. You know, the kind of sobbing with the hiccups, ugly-cry-face, and snot coming down out of your nose? My kids were in the back and the more I tried to hide it from them, the more it came out.
I didn’t want to leave.
I’ve lived in at least 10 homes in the first 20 years of my life, and around 6 more since Alin and I have been married. I don’t know what it’s like to have “roots” laid down in one place. For a while I thought that maybe I was part gypsy (I’m Romanian, so it would make sense), and that our family would eventually just buy an RV and live in as many places as we could until the kids grew up and moved out.
But after leaving Highland Park that chilly morning in December, something happened in me that I have not been able to shake since. Every day, I think about the life we made there. Oliver created a special bond with his drum instructor Dave who helped him grow and develop his love for drums. Tristan played baseball in Highwood, and was the happiest I’d ever seen him doing something he loved so much. On nice days, (anytime it was between 35-78 degrees), we would go for long walks around our little town, and up the trails by the lake. Often times, we would have picnics on the beach, or lay out a blanket at Sunset Woods Park and let the kids get lost for hours. We would eat together at Walker Bros Pancake House, and also remember the days I used to go there after Homecoming to treat our dates from the night before. When it snowed, we would walk around downtown Highland Park at night and I would feel like James Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. It was like we were inside one of God’s personal snow globes. The kids played chess twice a week after school, and learned from the best, Jerry. They even tried their hand at Gaelic Football for a season, and we’re not even Irish. We attended Chicago Tabernacle, which was the first time in my life I really felt like it was “the church” for us. We walked the streets of Michigan Avenue so many times, you would think we would have tired of it. But we never did. We tried different restaurants, we went to fairs, farmer’s markets, Six Flags…
I love my family here in Phoenix, but I miss Highland Park. After living in so many homes and cities, for the first time in my life, I know where “home” is to me. Where I want to raise my kids and set roots. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I truly hope and pray that we will be back in Highland Park for good this time.
For now, I wanted to share some images from one of my very favorite experiences we had together as a family back in Highland Park. Our boys were in Cub Scouts, and not only did they melt my heart every time they put their outfits on, but seeing their faces light up when they learned something or tried a new experience, was priceless. The dedication and heart that these cub scout leaders put into this pack, is something I’ll never forget and will forever be grateful for. These photos were taken about a year ago at my boys’ Crossover Ceremony. Revisiting these memories today brought on a flood of emotions and I felt the need to share them as well as what has been on my mind lately.
Where is home to you?