After Rolling Thunder, my dad and I were lucky enough to visit friends and family in Massachusetts. My mom is originally from Framingham, MA and my dad grew up in Albuquerque, NM. As a military child, I moved a lot, but I lived in Massachusetts for a couple of years (ages 4 – 6) and I lived in NM from age 11 – 22. I then moved to Massachusetts, where I began my teaching career, and I lived there for 15 years. Military children are often referred to as “third space” children, meaning that they don’t fully belong in one place or in one culture, but they can move fluidly across boundaries and borders to adapt to their new environments. They are not this or that, but they are this third option, taking the best of each experience and environment, and incorporating it into their ways of being. While people often comment, “It must have been hard growing up…,” I have always felt like it was a privilege to explore the beauty and wonders of our world. I am thankful I was not insulated in one little bubble. So, all of that moving around begs the question… what is home? I will come back to this idea later in this post.
We stayed with my aunt and uncle, and we were able to see their son (my cousin) and his family. His son turned 8 while we were there, and he was dying to go for a ride on a motorcycle. He hinted to me first, but I told him the truth: I am uncomfortable with the idea of passengers on my bike. So, my dad called my cousin Matthew later, and asked if he could pick up Aiden, his son, for a ride for his birthday. Aiden’s parents said that would be fine, so my dad surprised him and picked him up. Aiden was in heaven, and they rode back together to my aunt and uncle’s house. He asked for another ride, so my dad surprised him again by picking him up from school one day (with permission, of course). Aiden swears his first vehicle will be a Harley. : )
By the time we got to Massachusetts, I had about 5,000 miles on my motorcycle, so we called around to make an appointment for maintenance. We had a hard time getting an appointment, but Sheldon’s Harley Davidson of Auburn, MA was able to get us in on Monday. I got my 5,000-mile maintenance and my dad got his 15,000-mile maintenance. While we were there, my dad ended up getting new tires (needed) and I ended up adding cruise control to my bike! When I bought my Deluxe, I assumed it came with cruise control because my Heritage had it, but sadly, it does not come standard. So, my ride home should be a lot nicer with cruise control!
Because it is graduation season, it made it easier to see family as we all gathered to honor our family graduates. I went to my cousin Brady’s party, and I was able to spend time with my great aunt, and the next three generations of her family. My cousin Brady is a very mature young man who will begin college in the fall. We are all very proud of him, and the party was really nice. I also visited with some other cousins and had dinner with them. At the center of attention was my little cousin Lilly, who is a ginger and a hot shot.
In addition to family celebrations, I was able to go on a Boston Duck Tour with one of my friends and her family, I went to see a special Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with another friend, I rode Harleys with a friend in southern New Hampshire, I had breakfast with a friend who was like an aunt to me, and I went to the beach with a special person, Datnery. I wish I had time to see all of my friends, but with a short amount of time, I packed as much in as I could. I tried to see people that I couldn’t see last time, but I still didn’t see everyone. Next time…
My dad and I also went up to New Hampshire to visit a cousin who lives in Rindge. He has a beautiful home right on the lake, and it is a perfect setting for his iron man training. We got to meet his new puppy, and we enjoyed the time with him. Then, we headed over to Keen, NH to check out the Harley Davidson, and finally, we went to Harrisville, NH to visit another cousin who owns her own bakery. The scenery in NH is beautiful, and downtown Harrisville could be a postcard. They have old buildings, quaint coffee shops, lovely, mature trees, and and old churches.
Of course, I saw Datnery, a very special young lady. Ten years ago, I was lucky enough to be matched with Datnery through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Lawrence, MA, when she was beginning her freshman year in high school. Through the years, she has become like a niece to me. I have seen her blossom into a caring, mature, responsible, hard working, and compassionate young lady. In this visit, we went to the beach for the day, and we had it to ourselves! On the way home, we stopped for some good ice cream at Hodgies (an ice cream stand with dairy fresh ice cream), and then we visited with her family. Her family is a fun, supportive, and loving bunch, and they always make me feel like part of the family. Datnery now has a three-month-old niece, who I met for the first time in this visit too. She is an adorable gordita. Datnery and her family are Dominican, and I enjoy when they share their culture and language with me. Datnery’s family thought it was cool and surprising that I ride a motorcycle now.
It is true that people who live in Massachusetts eat more ice cream than people from any other state. It’s not surprising given the fresh dairy ice cream stands that can be found across the state. People in Texas love their Blue Bell, but that is NOTHING compared to fresh dairy ice cream. While in Framingham, my dad and I visited my mom’s grave, and then we went to the Sunshine Dairy for ice cream. I have fond memories of going to the Sunshine Dairy with my maternal grandma, and it was nostalgic to enjoy my ice cream. We drove past my grandparents’ home, and it looks the same from the front. Nothing has changed except the cars that are parked in the driveway and I could see the backyard is different.
My dad and I visited my mom’s grave. She is buried with her parents, and my dad’s name is inscribed on the stone, which will be completed once he is buried with her. It’s strange to go to a cemetery for your mom. I don’t know if others find solace, but it is a depressing idea to me. I believe that my mom’s spirit is always with me, regardless of where I am. As I visited her spot, I really wished that she could be with me physically for my graduation. I would give anything for another hug, but, those days are gone. And so, as I reflect on what it means to be home….
Massachusetts felt like home when my mom was there, but as a military child, I am accustomed to moving around and making friends wherever I go. I did not grow up around extended family, so when I went to Massachusetts after college, it was my chance to get to know my extended family better. I do enjoy my time in MA with friends and family, but it is not the same there without my mom.
This brings me to my my conclusion: home is a feeling. It is not a place. Home for me is in my mother’s eyes. So, in that sense, I do not feel “at home” in Texas, but I also don’t fully feel at home in MA. I like both places for different reasons, and I am always truly thankful for my family and friends who accept me as I am, who encourage and support me, and who share laughter, fun, and challenges with me. That is how one feels at home… the feeling of ease and comfort being ourselves with while knowing we are loved unconditionally. While I may not ever be fully “at home” without my mom, I appreciate the sense of home provided by my family and friends.