Every year, I mutter something about traveling to the east coast and something like ‘no New York’. Not because I’m anti-NY, but because I want to cast a wider net, travel further, etc.
And then, there’s always something that pulls me home. Last year it was the first trip to NY in ~2 years, and a surprise engagement party. This year, it was an opportunity to see my little brother, Alex, before he deploys to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and address some compartmentalized grief from my Pop Pop’s passing at the end of 2016.
I’d been looking forward to the trip to NY for a couple months, and also feeling aprehensive about it. I was having a hard time thinking about seeing my brother, and saying goodbye to him – it’s hard for me to see his deployment through any lens except one of fear, for his safety and well-being, while he’s deployed and when he returns. And despite the fear and the tension of seeing him off, it was so fantastic to spend some time with my littlest brother and counsin Jonsey, hiking around the Heldebergs, sharing our first beer since he turned 21 years old (Bud Light for him, Heldeberg Brew Co IPA for me) and staying up late around the fire.
And the next morning, before he left… Just like decades ago, when we used to roll out of bed, just to sleep again while we waited for the bus.
I spent the rest of the trip as my parents’ shadow: yardwork, community events, homecooked dinner and more. It was peaceful, it was quiet, and it was rejuvenating. Spending the better part of a week in the hilltowns, with no places to go/people to see, was the best trip to NY I could have had. To those I didn’t see this trip – there will be more (no matter how much I tell myself otherwise..) and I look forward to our next visits.
In the meantime, I have a fresh perspective on my hometown and the comfort it provides me, particularly in challenging emotional times. This trip reset my perspective on my priorities, it reset my running (thanks, Liz!), and filled my heart and belly with that warm feeling of family love.