One of the saddest things about leaving Ann Arbor was that we were also leaving behind many of Tom and my, and our children’s, “firsts”.
Tom and I bought our first house in Ann Arbor. We painted every single wall, many of the ceilings, and about half of the trim throughout the house. We insulated the basement; replaced the windows, sliding glass door, water heater, kitchen faucet, disposal, dryer motor, and sump pump; and put in new flooring in one of the bathrooms. We tore down the rotten shed, landscaped the yard, stained the deck, and put in a small patio. In our first house we learned how to work together, what each of our strengths are, and how to compromise on where to focus our time and spend our money.
Both of our babies were born at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. We brought Will and Hallie home to that first house, where they first smiled, laughed, crawled, walked, and talked. Will was potty trained in the bathroom, learned to ride his scooter on the front sidewalk, learned to swim at the neighborhood pool, and started school at our wonderful church preschool just down the street from our house. As parents we learned to find patience where we thought we had none, to accept less-than-perfection as good enough (in a positive and healthy way), and to appreciate the journey instead of focusing on the destination.
It was harder than we ever imagined it would be to say goodbye to the city that surrounded and supported us as we became a couple, a family of three, and finally our complete family of four.
We really didn’t experience any “firsts” during our first six months here, unless you count my first time being unemployed in eight years and Tom’s first time having a real job in almost seven years. Ok, I take that back. There have been a few firsts – first lizard encounter/capture, first rodeo, first cowboy boots (well, cowboy-boots-substitute purse) – but nothing that I would qualify as a typical, “growing-up” milestone, like learning to ride a bike.
Until a few weeks ago, that is, when Hallie transitioned from her crib to a big girl bed (click here to read about Hallie’s crib-to-big-girl-bed adventure and my accompanying afternoon from hell), and two weeks ago when she got her very first haircut.
Somehow these two “firsts” have put Texas on the map for me. Regardless of how long we live here and where life takes us next, College Station will always be where Hallie started sleeping in a big girl bed and where her hair was first cut. Come fall, College Station will be where Hallie starts preschool and, God willing, where she’s potty trained. Eventually College Station will be where both kids attend kindergarten, learn to ride bikes, and lose their first teeth.
Firsts become memories, and memories are the foundation on which we will build our life in this new place.