Swinging into Home

It’s true that you wake up one morning and suddenly realize you’re a different person.  In the midst of the transition, you’re usually at the bottom of some pit, miserable, whiny, and thinking the end will never be in sight.  But even when you’re able to say definitively that a change occurred, you still can’t pinpoint exactly when it did.  It just happened at some point and now things will forever be different.

view from the top

We put up a swing set in our backyard.  It was a grand neighborhood adventure.  We purchased it from a neighbor whose children had outgrown it, but who had kept it in fabulous condition.  He organized its transport to our yard, two houses over and one up.  I met a neighbor – and his much-appreciated motorcycle-turned-tree-house-trailer – that I never had before.  Two other neighbors brought their children to play and watch with mine while they helped the other men.  The seller and his son stayed on to help my husband finish assembling it while the kids called to them, saying hello and ‘can we go on it yet?’  Many hands make light work and I was so appreciative of their efforts and how happy they made my children.

After the excitement died down and just our three children swung and my husband and I surveyed the scene, I realized it.  I realized our life is forever altered.  We are different people here.

But in a totally positive, wide-open way.

We ask for and accept offers of help from our neighbors.  We relax on our porch and watch the trees blow in the breeze.  We have places to sit and read, whilst our children do some other activity nearby.  We have spots on the floor perfect for laying out vintage matchbox car tracks complete with loop-de-loops.  We have hooks for towels.  And room to swing around in the bathroom without smashing into some manner of porcelain.  There are dormers and transoms and skylights and fanlights.  There are angles and peaks, nooks and crannies.

Our entire perspective has changed.

The neighbor who sold us the swing set said it still feels like vacation even after living in his home for nearly two decades.  The light, airy feeling of vacation is nice, wonderful indeed.

But looking at that swing set to the profile of our home beside it, I realize this plot of land, this place and time we’ve landed in is a dream come true.  The realization of some nebulous idea I formed as a child.

Suddenly and unequivocally, this is home.  I can’t say exactly when it happened, but I can now say with certainty, we are home.

It never is a straight path ;-)

It never is a straight path 😉

Neville

It starts with a colorless world.

The only color comes from the belongings he’s brought with him to this foreign land.

An unsanctioned move, an unfamiliar school, and unknown classmates, who most certainly won’t become friends.

This is the bleak landscape in which a young boy finds himself at the beginning of the picture book, Neville, by Norton Juster.

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At the beautifully gentle suggestion of his mother, he takes a walk down the street on the off chance of meeting someone.  Reaching the end of the block, he looks skyward and bellows a name.

Neville

Is this the name of a friend he’s left behind?  A pet who’s wandered off into this new neighborhood?

It’s unclear who he’s summoning, but first one, then a whole slew of children answer the call.  They all begin to seek out Neville without even knowing who he is.  Not exactly synchronized, but part of a collective effort to find this unknown friend.

“Hey, I don’t know anyone named Neville who lives around here.  Is he new?”

“I guess so,” the boy said uncertainly.  “Everyone has to be new sometimes, don’t they?”

The anxiously-sought-after Neville becomes a great source of curiosity, the children clamoring for information and hoping to meet him soon – though they’re pretty impressed with his friend, perhaps even more so than the mysteriously absent Neville.

Returning to his new house, it looks a little less bleak.  Closing his eyes that night, his mother wishes Neville goodnight.

The surprise reveal of Neville’s identity is a clever twist.  The entire book is a poignant look at the void a move can create; what is left behind is no longer accessible, but it’s unclear yet how to access the new resources available.  The tentative way Neville approaches it all is such a realistic depiction – for children and adults alike experiencing a move.  Readers will feel for Neville’s plight (even before we know it’s him), but not just because he’s a nervous kid; because he represents the ambiguity we all face when we experience a move.

We’ve all been tempted to raise our face to the sky and bellow our own name to see what comes back.

In the case of Neville, it’s all good.

Scene from September 14

The first time we viewed this house, our realtor said she could picture our girls climbing all over this boulder on the property.  Mere seconds later, their little bodies ranged all over it.  She apologized for jinxing us!  After removing several trees from the yard and only recently removing the leftover wood, the girls rediscovered it and, today, turned it into their canvas.  Remembering that first day and seeing how they’ve made it their own, I can’t help but see the cyclical quality of this year’s passage and how our little corner of the world becomes home.

Calcium carbonate comes home

Calcium carbonate comes home

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