“Are you so happy you live here now?” -niece

I was helping my four year old niece wash her feet in the bathroom, after playing outside in the sandpit, when she looked up with a smile and said, “Are you so happy you live here now?” I had been back in Michigan for four days, and it was our fourth day in a row playing with each other. After the first three days my parents house, “Nana and Papa’s house” became “Aunt Melody’s house”. Hashtag WINNING.

I am 33 years old, I have lived overseas for 9 years, and I am back with mom and dad who have a house big enough to sleep 11 people (because it did at one point, it did). My mom and sister had this beautiful idea to redecorate one of the bedrooms for me. Once they had their idea, they set my dad to work. He repainted, buffered and sanded and hung up light fixtures and wall hangings. My mom had a basket of soap and bath salts waiting for me in the bathroom. They’ve had a mostly empty nest since my youngest brother moved out 5 years ago. I am loving every minute of it.

Friends and family are in disbelief. I haven’t lived in Middleville since I went off to college, in 2003. They either look at me and say, “I can’t believe you’re here” or they ask me, “How does it feel to back?”

Which is where I want to rest for a minute. How does it feel? I didn’t know how to accurately describe how it feels, because I normally visit in the summer and stay at my parents and do all of the things I have been the past several weeks. But how does it feel? Being home, being here, knowing I am staying, how does it feel?

It feels right.

Not only easy, not only hard, not only exciting, but really… right.

That being said, there are many emotions constantly rippling along my body, my spirit, my soul like small waves in a pond. One moment anxiety is stabbing at my breath causing me to lie awake at night when I think about finding a job, unable to stop soft quicks sighs. The next moment I am smiling ear to ear as I drive over to my sister’s house and take a tractor ride with a handful of my family members.  I feel sad because I love the city life and friends that are like family and brunch and I miss it. I feel happy because I dream of owning a home and designing it with my mom and dad. I live in moments of pure joy, and fear of the unknown.

The idea that change becomes easy when you’ve experienced a lot of it is hogwash. Last week, I was sitting in my mom’s car about to go into an interview where I had to give a sample lesson to a group of 5 children, with 6 adults watching. I kid you not, as I sat in the parking lot with my hand on the seatbelt, I almost started the car again and drove away. “I don’t want to do this,” I said aloud to my handbag. I have interviewed for more jobs than I have fingers, and probably toes, and every time it’s scary. I took a deep breath. Went into the school. And I did it anyway.

I am grateful for my parents. The support and encouragement they give me allows me to take this next step into a place I have never explored before. I did warn them though if they keep spoiling me that I may never leave. Of course they know I am joking, mostly.

reading with aunt hillary


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