Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of an Era

My parents moved out of their house this week.  I was thinking I'd just gloss over that little happening in our lives on SMJ... maybe find some cute fall trouser-jeans or another good pasta dish to post about, but I've realized I just can't.  It is the end of an era for our family and this move of my parents' is major, and it is tugging on my heart this week in a way that just can't be ignored.  So, I'm writing about this today in an attempt to get some closure, and also in an homage to a place my whole family called home for the last nine years.
Nine years may not sound like a lot to those of you whose parents stay in one place for decades, who always come home to the same place with the same tchotchkes that have been there since you were a child.  In my family, however, nine years is about an eternity.  Wherever my parents land next will be their twelfth house they've lived in my thirty-three years, so you do the math... we moved a lot.  The home where my parents most recently lived was one they built themselves on the beach in Maine, and a place where a lot of big life things happened.  My sister was married at this house, baby J had his naming there.  We all boomeranged back there at one point or another as well.  I spent one particularly rough patch of 2003 living briefly in the foyer (don't ask), but most recently, as you all know, our whole little family set up camp there for about four months while we figured out what life would like in Boston.
The hub, the babe and I moved 3 times in his first year of life, and it was hard on me.  I went back to work before I was ready, I never quite hit my sweet spot of being a working mom in those first months back, and my body chemistry rebelled against me, making me anxious and sleepless more often than not.  By the time we landed at my parents house in February, I felt raw and fragile, and more than a little exhausted.  Being at the beach healed me.
Every day, my parents and B would leave for work, and eventually I'd get little J down for a nap, and then I'd head out to their porch.  I'd work out there, think out there, conduct endless conference calls and other business out there, pacing back and forth across the granite steps; but no matter what I was doing, the ocean stretched out in front of me, and it soothed my soul right to the very core.  In the warm embrace of my family home and the endless sea, I found my little bit of peace again, and started to find my way back to my self.  Beyond every dinner around my parent's massive dining room table, beyond every party we threw in the great room for every engagement or expected baby or graduation, the time we spent there this spring will always mean the most to me.  It was part time passing and part family and part chemistry that helped bring me back, but the house was the setting, and for that I will always be grateful.
I know a few things for sure: that wherever my family is is home to me, and that can never be defined by the walls of any house.  I know that wherever my parents land next will grab on our hearts the same way, thanks to my mom's uncanny ability to make spaces inviting and beautiful.  I also know they won't be too far from the ocean and the beach that we all hold so dear.  With a short drive, we'll be able to walk the same walks and see the same views... this doesn't have the finality of a cross-country move or anything like that.  But as we say goodbye to the gray-green cupboards, the collection of heart rocks on the porch and in the yard, the cool concrete floors and the yard rolling down to the sea, I have to pause and give thanks.  Thanks that we lived in such a beautiful place, thanks that our family forged through good and bad times there to emerge together with strength and love, thanks to the ocean that soothed each of us in its own way.  And thanks to my parents, whose love for us and for each other is filled with goodness and grace, and makes any space one worth calling home. 


  1. Wow. Thank you, Janey. I needed that. You have a gift for articulating complicated feelings into beautiful words. Thank you for sharing that gift.

  2. You had me teary-eyed!

  3. This is a lovely piece and a beautiful tribute to your parents and the homes that they have created for you. From my experience at Kent Rd, Overlook Rd, Sunriver, Holland, and Scarsdale #3, I believe that you are right. Where ever your parents land, their house will be a special home. For me it was the freshest fruits, the yummiest sandwiches, the milk bottle on the sink half full of water, the pottery dishes, the Corita prints, the warm, cozy laundry--and of course the saliva cookies! :)

  4. Ryan and I were just talking about this last night. We will miss that house as well. Its going to take some adjusting to the Ankers in a new setting. We have a lot of found memories there. My bridal shower was there. Since Ryan and I's parents are far away, it was the family outpost on the east coast. Great post SMJ...

  5. My favorite Corita:

    "The Journey is Home"

    Love to everyone as we make our way.