About 12 years ago after Jacob was born, Sunder was still a puppy and the world was feeling the reverberations from 9/11, we moved from Durango, CO to Asheville, NC a magnificent place smack dab in the middle of the Appalachian mountains. We moved to be closer to family and specifically to my brother Simon and sister-in-law Susan. Jacob was 2 months old and life was so fragile. We didn’t know what the world would bring next. In those days we hardly knew what it meant to be adults and marriage was its own adventure. We moved in with Simon and Susan and their 2 dogs Pascha and Chelsea for almost half a year before finding our own place. Thank goodness for their wide open arms. By the time we left two and a half years later we had emerged from the amazing chrysalis Asheville had provided and moved to Bellingham. But there are still roots there…. roots and memories.
When we were considering moving out west our criteria was to live near the ocean for me, near big mountains for Joseph and close to large airports to see our families. Bellingham took the cake on all fronts but this is the thing, visiting family a few times a year just doesn’t cut it. After years of living out west, we needed to be immersed in the family soup for a while, we needed to set the itinerary for plenty of family time on this adventure, New York, Virginia and now North Carolina.
We arrived in Asheville November 1st and moved in again with Simon and Susan for three weeks. This time we were down 3 dogs but up 6 kids, our 3 and their 3, Arielle (age 9), Noah (age 6) and Iya (age 1 ½). The first week and a half Joseph was taking his WFR course so we were also down a dad.
Uncle Simon helped us unwind from this crazy journey adjusting us at his Network Chiropractic office. We then spent evenings and nights with him catching up, downloading endless amounts of books and music on the boys’ respective machines, watching movies and reconnecting. Each day was an adventure, we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway and went hiking, we went to Rumbling Bald for rock climbing and visited The Western North Carolina Nature Center (which has some of the last surviving Red Wolves). Elias, Jacob and Noah went to evening classes at our friend Michael’s new Tae Kwon Do school. One of my favorite trips was to the Arboretum, which is affiliated with University of North Carolina, Asheville with Nana Carole and Papa William, Susan’s mother and step father. The gardens and grounds were scattered with installations created by a Lego sculptor. After visiting Noah’s Lego entry in the city wide contest we saw real sized Lego bison, super sized fox and a hare, hummingbirds, flowers and butterflies. Susan and I set an active itinerary for the trip but really we only needed to be together and hang out to feel fulfilled – kids and adults alike.
Every morning for three weeks, Elias and Noah woke up at the crack of dawn to scurry downstairs to the crazy play room. They literally had toy “worlds” throughout the entire room (which was the length of the house) and in every corner incorporating Uncle Simon’s stacks of books and tools…Legos, trains, matchbox cars, hero factory guys, more Legos. Upstairs, the little girls woke up searching for each other. Ila and Iya – two kin spirits ready to play with their babies, Arielle’s toys and books. Jacob and Arielle, the big cousins played on the periphery of the young ones.
Funny how cousins work, no matter how long it has been between visits or how young they are, they reconnect – just fit together, some crazy cellular DNA connection. Elias and Noah were seriously connected at the hip – no fights, no fusses just 2 peas in a pod. Same with the little girls to each other and to Arielle their bond seems to reach beyond the short time they have been on the Earth.
While on the family topic, there is something to be said about co-parenting. Most of our days with the kids incorporated 2 mommy/aunts and much of the time included one kick ass nanny “Ninja nanny” (as Jacob named Alyssa). Parenting, cooking, playing and homeschooling seems so managable with 2 moms on duty! Our time moved quickly and alas Jacob was reunited with Lily Mae.
Alaya and Michael and baby Lily Mae are dear friends whom we spent most of our time with 12 years ago. As young mothers Alaya and I were inseparable for 2 ½ years and likewise the babies were together all of the time. Now a decade later (and 12 years old) Lilly and Jacob reconnected and were immediately great friends.
Right across the street from Alaya and Michael lives Jill. Jill is my oldest friend on the earth. We grew up down the block from each other in Oceanside, New York. Our mom’s were friends while pregnant and we have known each other ever since… -play groups, nursery schools, elementary and so on. She moved to Asheville when we lived there to be close to us. We moved and she stayed. We haven’t spent enough time together in the last few years and she has been dearly missed. The time hiking, cooking and hanging out was so sweet and too short.
It was strange and sweet dropping back into a place and a life that we left 10 years ago to see how everyone’s lives, careers and families have unfolded. This trip so far seems to be just that. We are reweaving the early threads of our life into a more complete tapestry, less space between the threads, more connections and sharing it all with the kids. I think that is the gift of being older and intentionally touching down on places, moments and people, this time working out the kinks and knots with open hearts and the wisdom that comes from a clearer vision of what it’s all about.
It was difficult to leave Jill, Alaya, Michael, Simon, Susan and their families at the end of the visit. Maybe they too will visit us somewhere out west or back in Bellingham. Pulling away from Asheville, Ila did her normal role call,
But this time she included her extended family, “Susu? Uncle? Arielle? Noah? Iya” I tell you if anything pulls at the heart strings this is it! Thankfully we would see the cousins in Florida at the end of December so parting from them was a bit easier, such a sweet visit.
Now on to run with the wild horses, Cumberland Island bound…