In which Emily overuses tree metaphors

Every time he goes outside, Benjamin points out the grass as though that evidence of spring means it will never be cold out again.  He desperately wants winter to be over.  “I don’t like this weather,” he told me a month ago.  “I like warm and beaches.”  I couldn’t help him, so I just shoved his hands into mittens and sent him out to the schoolyard to play.

But, now, little flowers are poking up and the snow is melting and we have separated the liners from the shells on their coats.  There will surely be one more snowstorm – there always is – but we are in final negotiations with winter.

Unfortunately, we are not in final negotiations on the big yellow house.  There has been one holdup after another and sadly we have had to walk away.  Which leaves us back at square one.

Not exactly square one, since we know this is the town where we want to settle.  The schools are good.  The people are nice, especially the kids, who have been amazingly welcoming.  But, the town is tiny, and so the housing stock is limited.  We need to choose carefully, because this is where we will stay.

We hope.

For a long time.

I have lived widely.  I have moved and seen and done more times than I can even count anymore.  I have experienced a great deal and have grown from the cultural grazing in which I have indulged.  I have lived abroad.  I have lived on both coasts of the U.S.  I have met fascinating people and made wonderful friends.   I have lived widely.

I have never lived deeply.

We have not, as a family, lived deeply.

I think some people are raised with long, deep roots, and those people feel the need to spread themselves as they grow older.  Others are raised with wide, spreading branches, and they feel the need to burrow down as they grow older.  My husband and I have spent our adult lives spreading, but now we both know it is time to watch the seasons pass from the same vantage point year after year.

And, to be quite honest, we think a highly sensitive five-year-old who has been moved four times in his life deserves a chance to feel like he belongs somewhere.  Even rock-solid Benjamin needs that, although I think he’d prefer to be settling on a tropical island somewhere.

I welcome the chance to live deeply, to get to know myself and my family without running all the time.  But it scares the shit out of me.

What if I discover that I don’t like myself?

19 responses to “In which Emily overuses tree metaphors

  1. I moved seventeen times before graduating high school. So I know about living widely. And now that I have a family, I too am putting down roots. It’s feels right . . .

  2. Sorry about the house. I’m sure it’s for the best- usually is. I hope you find something soon, and I hope you’re able to put down those roots you want even before that. I’m sure you’ll be surprised by what you find- eventually, in the good way.

  3. Sorry to hear about the house. Something will come up, probably even better next time. Until this house, I had never lived in a house for more than 4 years. I have lived in New Zealand, Singapore, and three different states of Australia. I have now lived in this house for 11 yrs and still love living here. It took me a long time to settle, I kept moving the furniture around every year and tried to re-purpose rooms.
    You have to learn to love yourself no matter where you live.

  4. So sorry you didn’t get your big yellow house – I know how frustrating it is to be floating when you want to be grounded. I hope there’s some joy in walking the streets and finding all the ‘oh, if only they would sell it’ houses. It does sound as though the roots are sprouting and ready to sink in just as soon as you find your HOME house.

  5. While I’m sure it is terribly disappointing that the house did not work out, I hope you are excited at feeling you have found your settling spot. You know we are in pretty much the same situation, and we are so happy to finally feel we’ve found our home. Some days it is scary … what if I open my big mouth and say the wrong thing to the wrong person in this little town? Other days I’m excited to think someday I might be “known” in this place. Then I worry again about where I will hide when I want to be anonymous.

    Regardless, we too are pleased to be ready to live deeply.

  6. PS — it is funny, I’ve often thought of that same song since we’ve moved here 🙂

  7. Oh, I think you’d know if you like yourself or not regardless of how many moves you’ve made! I moved a lot growing up, but stayed in one place for the seven years I was married, then moved, and now we’re moving again, for at least three years we say. I think you can know yourself if you stay put or if you keep moving. Honestly I think you know yourself better if you challenge yourself and face changes!

  8. Oh, and very sorry about the house. I am jealous of you for getting to pick it. I’ve only ever gotten to pick one housing situation: senior year of college apartment.

  9. yeah. living deeply scares the shit out of me too. i wonder if that feeling ever goes away? or if we are actually living deeper than we think we are…

  10. Sorry about the house. That sucks. Hope you guys find one that you love even more.

    I get this, I so do. I’m just wondering if I am in the right place yet. Maybe, to feel like I am, I need to accept that I’m here for good. Shrug. That may take me a while.

  11. I’m in the process of finding myself and it’s very scary. I’ve been unearthing lots of things that I do not like, but luckily, there are things that I do like too. I have faith that you will too.


  12. I’m sorry you didn’t get that house. I hope the right one comes along soon.

    I’ve always been a put down roots type – I’ve lived in three apartments and one house since college – and I plan to stay in this house for a LONG time.

  13. OK, clearly we need to have a real conversation on this one. Lived widely– yes! Growing up: never at one school more than three years (even college spent three years on campus, one year in Spain). Since college: Louisiana, NJ, Philippines, NYC, Maine, New Haven.

    And now– we just bought a house! ( Literally just, so fingers are still crossed until next month’s closing). First-time home buyers at 40. Trying not to hyperventilate– not about the cost, but about choosing where we will settle, & raise our kids when we both have a penchant for traveling and still hear siren songs calling for us to live abroad. But we are buying a house. And we are putting down roots. Not is a small town, but in a small city that can feel like a small town at times.

  14. I’m sorry to hear about the yellow house. I hope that you find another, better place to put down your roots.

    As for me, I have not lived widely. I moved once, experienced one real winter, and came back to the Pacific Northwest determined to never do that again. I think I may join Benjamin on his tropical island, if he ever makes it there.

  15. Liking yourself is really about your attitude rather than any particular facet of your personality. You may, if you stand still, find out you don’t. But if that’s the case, it isn’t because of who you are but how you see yourself. And then you may have some work to do on that.

  16. That’s the beauty of roots: When one root dries up or gets knotted, the others remain to provide sustenance. You can let go of what you don’t like, rely on what you do, and still stand tall.

  17. So sorry to hear about the big yellow house… I hope another house reaches out and grabs your attention soon…

    I understand about wanting to just settle down… poor Ramekin has lived in five different homes, and he’s not yet five! Hopefully, we’re home for a long while… just wish it was warmer. 😉

  18. oof. this is hitting home right about now.


  19. I love the way you write.

    I’m sorry about the house. It wasn’t meant to be…it means something better is awaiting you and your family.