Fourteen years ago today we closed on our house in the southwest burbs and Phillip carried me across the threshold to begin our Chicagoland adventure. In a few days we will leave this place for good. Ironically, the person who took the picture below fourteen years ago ended up being our real estate agent for the sale of our house this year. He wasn't a realtor back in 1999 but a friend, and he has remained one throughout our time here. How fitting that when we drive away we will leave our keys with him.
Our time in this house has always been, uh, shall we say, a bit complicated. It was definitely one of those love-hate relationships! We are not fixer-uppers and it turned out there was a lot about our new home that needed fixing up. Still, we learned to love her. Our children have spent the majority of their childhood years within these walls. Phillip and I have both lived here longer than in any other house our entire lives. Fourteen years adds up to a lot of memories. Those memories come with small print identifying the time and the place, and it is hard to leave the place behind without feeling as though you are also in some part letting go of the memory.
In another bit of symmetry, we are leaving Illinois a little over 20 years after coming here, and we are heading back to our southern roots. Leaving Texas was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had a 10-month old baby and my father was very ill. Taking that baby and kissing his grandpa goodbye to move 900 miles away just about ripped my heart out. My dad died less than a year after we left Texas. But I know that coming to Illinois was the right thing at that time. I will never forget our first Christmas Eve at Trinity Lutheran in Peoria. Leaving midnight mass in an historic downtown church to a gently falling snow made this Texas girl feel like a character in a storybook. How fitting that as I write this, a New Year's Eve snow of 4-8 inches is predicted. Thank you, Old Man Winter. We'll miss you, too. And forever and ever I will look back on our Illinois story sort of like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz:
"But it wasn't a dream. It was a place. And you and you and you . . . and you were there. . . . and I remember some of it wasn't very nice, but most of it was beautiful--but just the same all I kept saying to everybody was 'I want to go home,' and they sent me home!"
Home, of course, is where your people are, and for us Illinois has been home for a very long time. Still, I do sort of feel like we're leaving the Emerald City to go back to Kansas (or in our case, Oklahoma), and I am very much looking forward to a quieter, simpler, slower, less technicolor life with all my dear ones gathered round. I pray wherever you are that you, too, wake up to a lovely, promising new year. See you in 2014!
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." - Psalm 37:5