"Drive slowly," I told my sister as we pulled from the driveway en route to the airport, "I want to cherish this." She slowed the car while I gazed out the window through teary eyes as my childhood home faded from view. I found myself weeping, not necessarily in sadness, but out of a deep appreciation and acknowledgment that a beautiful season of 20+ years had come to a close.
I craned my neck until I could no longer see the perfectly mowed front yard where my dad and I would play catch while waiting for the kindergarten school bus to arrive. The car rolled past the park that my family had ridden bikes through since I first learned at the age of 2. We continued across the bridge over the creek in which our neighborhood posse had splashed around catching crawdads and minnows each summer. We turned the corner and drove past the houses from which many of my friends had long since moved away. This had been my neighborhood for my entire life--two different houses each within the same block--and this would be the last time I would call it "home," as my parents were moving away the next week. As the tears rolled down my adult cheeks, I felt a deep gratitude and finality come over me.
That last gaze is burned into my memory, holding a certain finality to a season of life. Places hold deep memories--they are the physical representations of times past. That house in East Texas will likely be standing and relatively unchanged in another 50 years and those memories will always be most accessible for me upon my return. I anticipate visiting again some day, perhaps to show my kids where I grew up, and while it won't be the same, I expect that these fond memories will rush back easily. Places are funny like that. Each time we find ourselves moving on, a chapter of life ends and the physical places associated with those experiences are the only spaces in which those those memories remain concrete.
I felt the same feelings when I moved out of my college house in West Texas, where I experienced close community with some of the best human beings I've ever met. I feel similarly each time I leave Alaska for the season, walking away from the boat, off the docks, and hitchhiking back to the airport with backpack in tow. I now find myself in the familiar (yet ever-melancholy) position of packing belongings into cardboard boxes, wrapping up affairs, and moving on. The three years we've spent in Colorado have been transformative, challenging, and rewarding. In two weeks I will be done with public accounting, and the bittersweet closure of that is beginning to set in. As my lovely wife and I looked around the quickly emptying home on Sunday in preparation of pairing down belongings to what can fit in our backpacks, we shared a certain reminiscence over the first three years of our marriage established in our run down little cottage in Denver. Seeing the life we've built over that time slowly dismantle brings back those feelings of gratitude and appreciation of a beautiful season of life, but also closes this chapter in a graceful finality. It feels sad, as it should, but also indicates new experiences are on the horizon that require pursuit.
As the car accelerates and the house fades from view, these feelings linger. Yet as the car turns out of the neighborhood and onto the highway, the tears dry and the new season of life begins to come into deeper clarity. New adventures await, fresh perspectives are ours to learn, and wild experiences are inevitably around the bend. And so we move ONWARD.