Early yesterday morning after coming home from the gym I poured myself a hot cup of coffee and sat on the back porch, enjoying the cool 66 degree temperature and that dreamy dew that settles gently onto the grass until it burns off in the still-summer afternoon heat. Ender won't step into the wet yard unless someone goes with him so together we hopped off the deck and took a few steps around, both of us searching for the green S-shaped toy he sometimes likes to chase after if I throw it enthusiastically enough.
My birthday was on Sunday and every year it hits me with the same combination of emotions--excitement for another year and another autumn; gratitude for the past twelve months and all the people in my life who love me so well; and a healthy dose of nostalgia, every time.
I spent the earliest part of the weekend in Roanoke getting ready for my friend Raquel's wedding, and with a bridal party that consisted of both our childhood friends and college roommates, I was overwhelmed with the realization that some relationships really do stand the test of time. High school lunches on the stage of the cafeteria--for whatever reason we never sat at a table and would all sit on the floor with our backs against the wall and our lunches on our laps. We went to Miller School every summer and belted out Disney songs on early-morning trail runs in the middle of the woods.
And then we grew up a little (but not a lot) and went to college, where Caroline joined our tribe and we'd drink big disgusting bottles of Arbor Mist and drag ourselves to the dining hall for weekend brunches or big family-style pancake breakfasts in our own apartment. We've had falling outs over the years but we always found each other again and we've always been a family.
I had a moment as I passed out sparklers to Raquel's wedding guests after the reception where I realized that no matter where we live, these people and the love we've shared for so many years can't be taken away from us. It was 11 PM on Friday night and we all stood in the center of the market downtown in Roanoke, where I grew up, and the air was cool and it felt like fall was finally on its way. The sparklers started sparkling and left that holiday haze of smoke that smells like summer and a little bit of sulfur, and for the first time I imagined us in California for however many years and felt totally at peace.
The next day we drove home to Charlotte and planned a pretty last-minute Labor Day cookout at our house with our friends down here. Everyone came and we grilled burgers and roasted s'mores and passed around the season's first pumpkin beer from NoDa Brewing Co. After everyone left, Rob and I cleaned up and kissed in our kitchen and as the sun set I felt so proud of the life we've built here.
It is going to be so hard to leave--that I know. But remembering where we came from and all the friendships we've nurtured over the years despite the distance was enough encouragement to keep me focused. California is far. But our hearts are big.
I'd like remember that when we hit the road.