So, of course, we’d return to Colorado at its spring-time peak. All lush and green from days-old rain and mid-May snow. Of course we’d return home from a long flight in which our increasingly-mobile child jumped and kicked and arched and grabbed and actively and vocally resisted naps…to find our loving friends and family ready to ease the burden by volunteering to watch Declan while we slept or went to a movie or just sat on the couch and fiddled with our phones. Of course our old home would remind us of the things our new home lacked. Maybe “lacked” is the wrong word. Replace that with “could never match exactly.”
Five years ago this August we moved to Phoenix– freshly-married 20-somethings, childless, unconvinced of our career paths, unsure of our permanent place on a map but certain Phoenix was only a temporary stop. Now here we are– 30-something parents, still unsure about many of the same things, and trying to determine, once and for all, where home is.
Declan, of course, doesn’t care. His world is the few feet in front of him. But it’s expanding. Because now… he is mobile. Is he technically crawling? Debatable. But during our 4-day trip, he made huge strides in his “army crawl” technique, and he’s now routinely up on all fours and rocking. His newfound ability to get wherever he wants has turned our living space into the Incredible Shrinking Apartment.
Any activity that involves him being stationary for more than 5 minutes goes over like a ton of bricks.
I think the only reason he’s moving is because he wants more things to put in his mouth. He has repeatedly sampled everything in his immediate vicinity. Shoelaces, sunglasses, toys, books. Literature, in case you didn’t know, is for eating not reading.
And so, on our trip to Colorado, he was constantly on the go. Rolling and scooting on the floor, extending his arms and legs like a competitive runner inches away from the finish line. On the plane, he wouldn’t sleep. He could barely be bothered to eat. What fascinated him was what he couldn’t have. Whatever happened to be behind him or above him.
Car rides were the only time we could get him to sit still. And boy did we drive a lot. Our friends and family are spread out across the city and suburbs and Colorado traffic is a nightmare for no good reason. So we drove and he dozed. And the snow-capped mountains and green grass rushed by.
And as we looked out at the open space, drove down familiar streets, and met with friends, I thought about what it would be like to move back.
I did it once. In 2004, I moved to Albuquerque and two years later I moved back to Denver. I did it because it was a smart career move. And because it was familiar and I was lonely. And, in a lot of ways, because it was the easy thing to do. It turned out well. But there’s a small part of me that is disappointed I returned home so quickly. I spent a lot of time in New Mexico thinking about Colorado. Probably too much time. There were moments I missed in the present thinking about the past or some theoretical future.
A decade later, I still have a tendency to cast my gaze where the grass appears to be greener. In that way, I’m not that unlike Declan, who will drop the toy in his hand in an instant for whatever I happen to pick up and wave in front of his face.
There are so many places to go in the world, so many things to do. It’s hard to commit to just one place or one thing. Of course Colorado would be appealing. Of course Phoenix could never match Boulder or Denver or Grand Junction exactly. But it’s not supposed to. As Declan is learning, each of his discoveries is unique. And really, the only one that matters is the one in his hands, in front of his eyes, or on his lips in this instant.