Throughout those 14 years - and for many years prior - Tom's parents lived in a lovely home in Nebraska. I estimate that I visited them in that house at least 25 times, and during these visits we made wonderful memories, especially after Will and Hallie were born:
|Taking a "dad nap" on the family room couch.
|Gathering together for a wedding celebration.
|Playing with Grandma.
|Watching Animal Planet with Grandpa.
|Bath time with Simon and Norah in the "swimming pool".
|Developing a love for technology (and drooling).
|Taking family photos in the only configuration agreeable to Will.
|Just two buddies in their matching shirts
|Learning to drive "the bus".
|Sword fighting on the driveway.
|Tasting rice cereal for the first time.
She clearly loved it.
|Another "dad nap" on the family room couch.
|Christmas Eve photos by the fireplace.
|Christmas morning by the tree.
While planning this trip to Nebraska I worried - admittedly somewhat selfishly - about how it would feel to visit my in-laws in their new house. I'm moderately sentimental and dislike change, especially change accompanied by an adjustment period (like moving), and as a result I just couldn't wrap my head around a family gathering anywhere except their home. I also worried about how the kids would adjust because, well, because I'm just a worrywart.
As is almost always the case, I needn't have worried. As we toured the new house, it felt more and more like home with each room we saw. The living room furniture was new, but sinking down into the familiar family room furniture brought back memories of watching episodes of Real Housewives of Orange County with my sis-in-law and playing the you-must-talk-in-an-accent version (which we invented) of Catch Phrase with Tom and his siblings. I spent 15 minutes searching for a cookie sheet in the new kitchen cabinets, but when I opened the refrigerator I somehow knew where my mother-in-law kept the Greek yogurt and the jar of pepper jelly. The sound of my children's bare feet echoed strangely as they raced across the new wood floors, but their laughter, accompanied by my father-in-law's banjo, filled the rooms with sweet, sweet music just like in visits past.
This move, though not mine, was a reminder that "home" is not a building. Home is not where your furniture sits or your belongings are stored or your artwork and framed photos hang on the walls. It's not necessarily just the familiar. It's not necessarily even where the memories were made.
It's where the people are. It's where the people make music and share laughter and give love. So as long as you hang on to the people, you can always go home.