Last Thursday evening – just a few minutes after Andi waltzed through the door upon her triumphant return home from The Sound of Music’s official Dress Rehearsal – she lobbed a playful question my way.
“Do you know what today is?”
Enter the male panic insitinct. I try to jump start my cerebral cortex. Kick start my cranium. Bash my brain pan in a bid to prime those neural synapses and spit out something halfway resembling cogent thought. In essence, “Think Dammit, Think!!!”
Her birthday? Nope – that’s June 6th. (Editor’s Note: It’s actually February 11th).
Colin’s birthday?? Nope – he was born May 5th, our little Cinco De Mayo Nino. Every year on that blessed day, the fine frat brothers at Chug-A-Lug House raise six or several Coronas and toast in my boy’s general direction.
So what could it be???
“It’s our anniversary!!!”, she exclaims.
Now I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. We were married in October – on a picture perfect swatch of Indian Summer – each wedding pic snapped against a backdrop of blazing autumnal color and a brilliant blue sky. This is August. The only thing these two dates share in common is the number 14. I quickly corrected her and added a dejected “huff” for dramatic sake. How could she misremember our anniversary? Women – they never remember the important dates!!!
“Ahmmmm, I beg your pardon, me lady, but we were married in October and this is clearly August.” I mean, how could she get that wrong? It’s only been 50 degrees and rainy each day since the Summer Solstice.
“Not our wedding anniversary!!! Today marks four years in this house.”
Oh yeah. Ya’ know – She’s right… except she’s wrong. She’s got the years right but she’s off a day. Afterall, we moved from the South Shore of Massachusetts to our current digs in Dudley back in the summer of 2004. August 13th to be exact.
I countered and let her know that we’ve been here 4 Years and 1 day. Just to double check my calculations I referred to the check marks I’d been scrawling on the wall to mark the number of days until Dudley discovers electricity.
1,461 and counting.
But, there was something nagging me. Maybe she was right. I know I started my current job in August of 2001 and that may have been somewhere around the 13th, 14th or 15th. And prior to that, my first job out of college commenced in August 1994, somewhere within the same jurisdiction.
Maybe all of these mid-August milestones had muddled my brain. And maybe, Andi was right on the money. Or, maybe not.
One thing I did know for certain is this little bout of uncertainty confirmed something I’ve long suspected. It’s at the very moment when you can’t recall how long you lived somewhere that you realize you’re home.
While we may not be able to triangulate the exact cooridnates of when we crossed the threshold of our new abode, we know we’ve been here four years and counting. That exceeds our record in Brockton (we were there for 4 calendar years but not 4 full years) meaning this is the longest I have lived in one location my entire adult life.
When we first moved out here, I wouldn’t have guessed we’d be here to close out another decade. Sure, the day we laid eyes upon this house (a domicile of relative new construction that was built in homage to the frontier), we knew we had found the country house of our dreams. That it was situated smack in the middle of nowhere added to the allure… and the fear factor (I was certain that before 2004 was out, one of two things would happen – The Boston Red Sox would win the World Series or one of us would be eaten by a bear. Thank you, Mark Bellhorn.).
That day we had no idea, geographically, where we were. We had started in Charlton, MA (just a hop off the Pike) with our Realtor and followed a meandering path through the neighboring towns checking out an assortment of new and slightly used homes. The house we fell in love with sat perched at the end of that trip so by the time we arrived there, we had progressed about 18 miles South from our initial appointment, yet we hadn’t realized we had moved so close to the Mason/Dixon Line. Intoxicated by the allure of this house, we told our Realtor that we’d seen enough and gave him the go-ahead to make an offer.
With the offer accepted, we made plans for the Home Inspection. On the day of the inspection, I began to grow a bit weary. “Geez, we’ve been driving quite a long time.” When the MapQuest directions dipped us into Connecticut, I thought we had made a big mistake. This was Yankee country. The terrorists had already won.
Despite the misgivings that were beginning to gnaw at my better judgment, we went ahead with the Home Inspection and everything else fell into place. In August 2004, we packed up the wagons and headed West towards the new frontier. We lost a few members along the journey, ’round the Donner Pass, but otherwise we made it here in one piece.
I remember worrying a lot in those early days. I thought that Andi was going to absolutely HATE it here. See, it made some sense for me to live in this region as I work on the other side of Worcester. But Andi and I had made the decision to have her stay home and raise our children and I started to think that out here, in the big, bad woods, the walls would start to close in without her support system of close friends and family in the area, there to summon at a moment’s notice.
Those days seem so far away.
In four short years, Andi has become deeply involved in the community. A few years back, she joined a local chapter of the Mom’s Club in a bid to meet fellow Moms and bond over shared life experiences. When she first told me she was part of the Mom’s Club, I thought she was nuts. There I was picturing my own Mom and wondering why my wife wanted to commiserate with a bunch of octogenerians. (I think I just aged my Mom by two decades but poetic license knows no bounds). Then I remembered something. She’s a Mom. And so am I… or a Dad, as it were. And with that knowledge in hand, excuse me as I go fix something, eat a box a Cheez-Its and fall asleep in my recliner.
The Mom’s Club opened more doors and once your children enter school age, those doors stay open – provided you want them to. We do wholeheartedly and over the last two years, we’ve found ourselves interacting with the community more and more. In short, we’ve made some great friends in these parts. If one measures true wealth based on the company they keep – then the shear addition of these wonderful people to our existing circle of friends and family make us the wealthiest people on Earth. (Stacey, Josh, Chris, Michelle and all the rest of ya’ – I’ll be expecting compensation for the kind words or I’m printing a retraction in tomorrow’s Ed Zone.)
Last Friday, as I sat spellbound in the Charlton Middle School auditorium and bore witness to Andi fulfilling her dream, surrounded by a whole new group of great people – I felt that bond growing stronger. The longer we live here, the more we find to like. It’s a nice region populated by some nice people.
And it’s nice to live somewhere where you can still spy the Milky Way when taking your pups out for an evening stroll.
I’ve often felt that where we live when Colin enters kindergarden is where we’ll be for at least two decades. I had the luxury of staying in one spot for most of my school career (I moved to Rockland, MA at the start of First Grade) and I’ve found that the camraderie built at that early age pays dividends years later. I’d like my children to have the same foundation that Andi and I enjoyed when we were children.
In two weeks, Colin returns to his elementary school, to begin his K-12 career. In two weeks, it’s all official.