I got an email from the agency through which I have been working, until recently. I had let them know that my husband had gotten a job out of state, and that I would wait to hear from them about returning to my job. In her email, the agency rep said she’d keep me apprised of any developments, and asked when I would be moving.
Not so fast, I thought.
I’m not leaving yet. I mean, sure, I’m itching to get out of here, can’t wait to stretch my legs in the wide open space of Colorado. You’ve all read it here–I’m cramped, stifled, hemmed in. But, as much as I hate to admit it, this has been my home for most of my life. My family moved here when I was almost five, then I left for school at 17, only coming back for two summers before I got married. I moved back when I was 30, and have spent the last 13 years here. I never wanted to raise my children here, but through circumstances I could not control, this is where we landed. This is, for all intents and purposes, my hometown.
I’m sitting in Starbucks on Main Street. I remember when this was a bridal shop, with floor-to-ceiling windows on both walls meeting at the corner entrance door. My best friend dreamed of shopping for her wedding dress here, gazing at the gorgeous dresses blushing in the windows. Her house was around the corner from this shop, one block off of Main. In high school, I spent many Friday-nights-to-Saturday-mornings in these environs after sleepovers at her house, before Starbucks, before the wonderful Italian bakery, before the Trattoria that spills the scent of garlic into the air. When we were kids, there was only the river and the park. When my husband and I dated in high school, we had our first date at that park, then walked along the river. The bench we sat on back then is still there. We got married in that park too, in the beautiful pavilion constructed in place of the shoddy old one where we
stood as teenagers.
The building that houses Starbucks is the Arcada building, and the smell of this building takes me back and back and back. It’s one of those great old movie houses with velvet seats and a balcony. They still have an organ in the theater, and will sometimes play silent films with a live organist providing the accompaniment. Earlier this summer they had a Chaplin festival. The temp agency I work for used to be upstairs from the coffee house, and in the early days when I first moved back, I spent a lot of time in this building. I had to take their proficiency tests, which took several days in a row. During breaks between test sessions, I would come down and get coffee and sit in a comfy chair, trying not to focus on the mess my life had devolved into. I was terrified of the future, with my two children relying on me to protect and provide for them. Later, after I started working part time, I would bring my kindergarten-aged daughter here to kill time waiting for her third-grade brother to finish school. Here we met another mom with a younger child, also killing time. We’d sit together for hours, letting the kids get to know each other. I still see her around town, most recently at the high school, where her youngest is also a senior.
This building is part of my childhood too. We would actually come to see first-run movies here. The only ones I remember are The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I loved sitting in the balcony, in the musty seats, smelling popcorn and Ju-Ju-Bees, elbowing my brother’s arm off the rest.
And now I’m in Starbucks again, once again with my daughter, killing time before her brother is finished with school.
I’ve had a difficult time embracing this city as my home. I’ve never felt like I belonged here. I did find a sense of belonging in Carbondale, where I lived between stints of living here. That was where I established myself as an adult, started the process of discovering who I am.
This has always been a way-station. But now that I’m getting closer to leaving it, my feelings about it are mixed. Some very important memories live here. My daughter has spent most of *her* life in this town. My entire relationship with my husband has taken place here, bookends to my independent young adulthood.
And while I’m ready to seek new adventures, I want to take some time to say goodbye. I want to visit all of the places that figured into my history at least once more before I go, do a proper adieu to this recurring backdrop to my life. Where I’m going, I won’t have much chance to visit again.
So yes, I told the woman from the agency, I will be moving. Just not for a while yet.