On Thursday night my parents are going to once again pack up and head back to their home in Virginia. This gets harder every single visit. Even I, the person who rarely gets emotional, get choked up when they leave. It's awfully hard.
You see, I'm actually a rare native Pacific Northwesterner. There aren't too many of us, pretty much everyone you meet who lives around here was born somewhere far away. I was born in Portland. My mom was born in a town a few hours from Seattle, my grandmother on the other side of the state and my great-grandfather in Seattle, in the same neighborhood where my son was born. My great-grandparents were here in the early days of Seattle (and in the days when Seattleites were driving the Chinese out of town... but hopefully my relatives weren't involved with that). I grew up in Washington State, and lived there until I was 12, when my dad accepted a job as an associate pastor and we moved to Tennessee. Where I lived until I was done with college. After that I lived in Ohio (where my parents were at the time) and in Ukraine (where I was working as a missionary) and Pittsburgh, PA (yet another church for my parents).
But through all these moves, I never ever felt at home. And so when I was applying for grad school, I knew I wanted to get back to my family roots, and I applied for two schools out on the West Coast, both near all my miscellaneous relatives. And got accepted to both. One was a lovely school full of people who wore birkenstocks and ate vegetarian foods. And the other was in Seattle. And if you've met me, you know that the first school, while perfectly nice, is not a match for me by any stretch of the imagination. I love wearing heels and makeup and pearls. I have actually vacuumed my house while wearing pearls and high heels. Honest truth.
So I ended up here and spent a lot of time reconnecting with all my relatives. And then when I was done with grad school, I tried to move back to Tennessee and I just couldn't do it. Because, for the first time in 26 years of life, I was home. And so I stayed and got a job here and then met Daniel, who also loved it here, and we stayed. And now we have lots and lots and LOTS of relatives close by to dote on our kids because I managed to marry the one person who actually has more relatives in the area than I do. But we don't have my parents close by. Because they have not been able to find a church out here and so they stay at a church that they love, but that's far away. And my brother, who always loved the West Coast and also planned to move back ended up at the same college in Tennessee that I went to, and then he married someone who was from that area and they stayed. So lots of relatives here for me, but no immediate family.
Moving a lot and having friends all over the world makes saying goodbye fairly easy, especially in the modern age of Skype and internet and email and Facebook. But nothing can ever make it easier to watch your parents sobbing as they say goodbye and walk away from their beloved grandchildren. It just gets harder every visit.
Thank goodness Vivian and I are headed out to Roanoke in January. Tickets have been purchased!