Sunday, October 23, 2011

Some days.....some days just cascade like a rushing waterfall, and you know you can't hold back the tide and you can't alter the flow, and there's nothing you can do but let it wash over you as you try to keep yourself upright against the torrent, and decide whether or not you will hold this pain that doesn't really belong to you, or let it roll down your back and away from you like so much water down the river.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Finding Joy

Last night was my first training session at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where I am a provisional docent. Docent is a fancy word for tour guide, and it comes from the Latin, 'docere', which means 'teach'. Most museums that I know of use the term docent to describe the people who conduct tours of the museum's exhibits.

The training for VMFA docents is nine months long, with weekly two-hour sessions. We'll be learning about each of the museum's galleries and collections, and every other week is a lecture about a major period of art history, taught by one of the museum's curators. Next week we start with ancient art. I can hardly wait! I'm sure someday the excitement of being allowed in the galleries and in the library outside of public hours will dissipate. Actually, I kind of hope it doesn't.

The docent position is completely a volunteer thing, and people have expressed amazement to me that I would undertake such an involved process with a commitment like this in order to be a volunteer. But why wouldn't I? This is the state's museum, it's important, I love to teach and tell people about historical artifacts and the people who made them. I love to do research and find new answers to old questions - or new questions.

I am using this training and this volunteer position to determine how big a change I might make in my future.

It's a logical thing for me. Yes, the time is significant. No, I don't get paid. Yes, it means some schedule Tetris and some asking friends to help on occasion. But the rewards are great. I get to help my state's museum further it's mission to reach out to all people in the state and beyond, and to join the conversation about why art is important in our 21st century world. For me, it's not about teaching the people who already like art or know about art. It's the opportunity to show someone who thinks art is only for high-brow, highly educated, highly sophisticated people, a new perspective on the world. If I can do that, then that is worth it to me. With arts funding totally down everywhere, and schools cutting arts programs like a hot knife through butter, what better time to use my own enthusiasm to show people why cutting this out of our lives is a huge mistake?

After we learned about the docent programs and policies, and did a fun exercise in verbal communication and visual skills in the (closed) gallery, we were done for the evening. I get access to one of the largest museum research libraries on the east coast of the US, access to the curators if I need research questions answered, and the chance to teach, however informally.

As I walked out of the building that used to be the Home For Needy Confederate Women, dusk was falling and the streets were quiet. A sense of 'right-place' came over me and for a brief moment, tears welled up in the corners of my eyes. THIS is where I want to be, at least one day a week.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Art = Happy

This is what's making my heart and soul happy this morning....watercolors and crayon resist at the art table in the living room.

Of course, about half an hour after this, they were running through the house, and Noah smacked his head on the corner of our granite kitchen island top and raised a scary welt on his forehead (he's fine).


But there was an hour or so of early-morning art and peace and creating, and that was bliss.

Friday, July 29, 2011


The taste of fresh red raspberries will never ever fail to immediately transport me to summer, circa 1977, to my grandparents' house by Lake Ontario in Rochester, New York.

I have sweet memories of their above-ground pool, and the multitude of berry bushes that surrounded the pool and deck and lined the edges of their smallish yard. My brother and I would swim in their pool, and then, wrapped in our towels, we'd stand carefully among the bushes and pick and eat berries until we could eat no more. My grandfather, slightly stooped, always tan, and smelling of old cigarette smoke and after-shave, would help us find the biggest, juiciest ones. I remember some of them being as big as my thumb, dark red and bursting. We had to pick them gently, sliding them off their stems and popping them in our mouths, our hands stained red by the juice.

Ever since, and especially now that Grampa is gone and I am older, the taste of red raspberries has been a passport to those days, like a time machine in its immediacy.

That was before, this is since then.

Before we moved to Florida, and before the pool was dismantled and a new one put in, before the deck was taken down, and before they built the house next door. Before my uncle got married and moved into Grandma and Grandpa's original house, before the garden went in, and before some of the bushes got ripped out.

That was before my grandpa passed away.

Since then, I eat fresh red raspberries every summer and remember being seven and picking berries with my Grampa in the yard, and I think that this year, we should try again to get the berry bushes to grow, so my kids can pick and eat until they can't eat anymore.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Horse Lover

My wallet may very well regret this down the road, but I am slowly cultivating another horse-loving girl in this house.
Wren meets Cygne at the Deep Run Hunt Horse Show

I took Wren to a local, large hunter-jumper show today, because she has heard her older sister talk on and on about working horse shows with her dad, and Wren has begged and begged to go to a show. I needed an equine infusion myself, so off we went.

It was really fun. I think she petted every single white horse on the property, ponies included. We got to touch the velvety noses and pat the muscular necks and feel how soft and smooth their coats were. I took in the sights and smells (yes, I'm crazy, but I love the leather/horse/hay smell of the barn), and tried not to think about how long it's been since I last rode a horse.

I think there might be riding lessons in the future for Wren.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Guess We're Remodeling

If you give the Brandels a new vanity with a Travertine marble top, and a new Kohler toilet that is really expensive, then they have to rip out all the old stuff. When they rip out all the old stuff, they will decide the mirror is too big and has to go, and also that wall-mounted cabinet circa 1978. When they take out that wall cabinet, they will decide that the "decorative wood piece" that holds the toilet roll to the wall is dubious, so that will have to go, too. When that goes, it exposes the fact that the previous homeowners used it to lazily cover up a square hole cut into the drywall for no known reason (Escape hatch? Mouse exit? Secret stash of cash hiding place?). In addition, the paint will need touching up, and a new tile backsplash will have to be put in. A trip to Home Depot will have to be made, and the credit card exercised. New flooring? What kind of storage for the bathroom stuff? A smaller mirror?

Taking all of these things into consideration will result in debating over whether to move the plumbing *now* for the future shower stall, or just leave it until they do the shower (at some undetermined point in the future).

They will briefly consider repainting the entire room in a different color.

They will decide against that, since the current paint job is only a year or two old anyway.

They will rip out the existing vanity and wall cabinet, mirror and toilet-roll-wood-backing-piece, and they will make the trip to Home Depot with two exhausted and incredibly rambunctious children, who will cause them to nearly lose their minds right there in the store.

They will go home, where Travis will tape up some spots on the drywall after dinner and the kids are put to bed, and then they will decide that that is Quite Enough For One Day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Today is the second day I have spent in bed, thanks to some planned outpatient GYN surgery yesterday. While I am sure some of my friends are envious of the time I am spending laying in bed, napping, reading, surfing the internet and having things brought to me, it really does get old sometimes. I am grateful to have the support of a fantastic family -- especially my husband, who has made it his personal mission to manage everything that goes on in this house with expert skill and attention to detail. The kids have been great, albeit their usual loud selves. They happily have snuggled in bed with me, shared yummy crackers and ginger candy (ah, post-surgical nausea!), and brought me flowers this afternoon.

I feel better than I did yesterday, for sure, when I threw up the Percoset I was given in the recovery room. Oh, and then again halfway home when I had to insist that Travis stop the car. right. this. minute.

I feel decent enough to get out of bed for short stretches of time, and go downstairs to eat and get myself something to drink, but then I feel the need to go right back upstairs and lie down until the dizziness and nausea passes. I had to miss my son's ice cream social on his last day of preschool, and that made me sad, but I knew I wouldn't have felt well if I tried to get there.

That is the biggest frustration: I feel good enough to do some things, but then I feel like crap again after a few minutes. Ugh. So many things I want to be doing, but napping and resting are the only order of the day.

Tomorrow will be better, I hope. I don't want to miss Wren's last day of preschool picnic. It's her last day of preschool ever, ever.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quoth the Raven

Today was a rainy and dreary day. Kira was actually home this weekend, and not at her dad's, so I thought it was a perfect time to have a mother-daughter outing. We spent the morning shopping for her new swimsuit (and I bought myself a glittery pair of flipflops), and getting Easter basket goodies for the little kids. Then, after lunch, we made our way downtown to thePoe Museum in the city.

Kira has been studying Edgar Allan Poe in her English class this year. She has developed a love for the dark, haunting stories and poetry, especially 'The Raven' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Most people associate Poe with Baltimore, but really, he has a much more significant history here in central Virginia -- in Richmond, specifically.

The museum is located in the oldest building in Richmond -- a house built in the early 1700's, and later given to the museum to house the collections about Poe and his life.

The museum is made up of several buildings clustered around a walled garden that contains the Poe Shrine.
The walled garden, facing the shrine.

The main building holds the gift shop and a small exhibit of furniture and paintings. Two other buildings hold a huge model of Richmond as it appeared during Poe's life, his first-edition books, some family artifacts and clothing, and lots and lots of information and details about his life that I had no idea about. Of course, I couldn't take any photographs of the artifacts or the insides of the buildings, but I took as many shots of the outsides of the period structures as I could.

The back of the main house, which contains the gift shop and some offices.

Kira ponders the gardens

From the inside of the Poe Shrine

We really enjoyed our visit here, and although the museum was small, there were so many interesting things to see and read about that it was well worth the time and small admission fee.

Afterward, I took Kira to Richmond Hill, a few blocks away, to show her one of my favorite views of the city. It was starting to rain, with the significant warning for sever weather, so we ran up several flights of concrete stairs that went straight up the side of the hill to see this:

It started to thunder and lightning shortly after I took these pictures, so we quickly made our way down the hill and made it into the car JUST as the downpour began!

A few blocks away is St. John's Episcopal Church, where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, and also where Poe's mother is buried. I really, really want to see this church, so it will have to be next on my tourist agenda.

I love my adopted hometown of Richmond, Virginia. This place is so very full of history and art and culture and science! So many terrific restaurants, so many great outdoor spaces to play in, it's hard to see and do everything. It's a great place to live.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What to do with a rainy Tuesday....

...take out your umbrellas...

...maybe swing in the hammock...

...dig in the dirt...

...relax and enjoy it...and read about gardening...and promise yourself you'll be a more diligent gardener this year...but mostly, relax...

(oh, and maybe do some laundry)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Most of you who know me know that I was a dancer. I trained long and hard for the art; I adored it, lived it, ate, slept, breathed, and was consumed by it. I never realized until I was much older and had left that life behind just how much it mattered on an almost biological level. While I have always been (and continue to be) an emotional person, it was in the power of music and in movement that I could center myself. I could find equilibrium and strength.

Science tells us that we are neurologically affected by external stimuli. Music, in particular, can influence our state of being in such a way as to alter mood and affect. Anyone who loves music certainly knows this; anyone who listens to any music is generally aware of how they feel listening to music they hate, versus music they love. Keen music-lovers can even do what some therapists have been doing and knowing for some time -- that you can 'force' a particular state of being using music -- make yourself happier or more upbeat-feeling with music you love that has a good rhythm, or put yourself in an active alert state ( to get ready for a competition, or particular task that requires focus) using certain types of sound.

I love to listen to music when I am doing something meditative or particularly active. Of course, when I work out (ha! rarely!), music makes it go much better, pushes me harder, makes me really work hard. I love it; it's almost like a high. When I am doing something like working over the glass torch, the mood I am in prior to sitting down determines what kind of music I listen to.

To concentrate, to really focus, I will use my favorite classical composers, or world music, or mellow stuff like Van Morrison or Indigo Girls or Kenny Loggins. If I want to feel like a total bad-ass, then Evanescence and Green Day and Fall Out Boy comes on the player. I have to admit to wanting to feel like a bad-ass more often lately, and surprisingly, I can really, really focus when liquifying my brains with some really loud, hard, driving music.

Sometimes, when the music is loud, and directly in my head, I want to reach out and pull the sound around me like a cloak, and become it. I imagine it like black silk velvet. I want to sink into it, swim in it-- like it's a pool --and be drowned in the sound and the words and the energy of it all. It's like a hunger, like a need....I remember how it felt to literally be moved by music, to be able to interpret and understand every note, and to wring the feeling out of it. I don't think I can even adequately describe the perfect feeling of power and grace and strength that can come from this experience. It's like having the ability to control *everything* in your world just for a brief period of time.There really aren't words for it, not at all.

Have you ever felt that? I'm not talking about being at a concert or something, and feeling the bass in your chest, or having to shout at your companions to make any kind of conversation. I am talking about becoming the music and hearing it in your soul, and wanting to, having to MOVE or SING or something, just do SOMETHING with that energy.

(Yeah, don't stand outside my house when I am working at the torch -- I can't sing to save my everlovin' soul, but I sure know how to sing loudly.)

I miss being able to feel in control of the universe in a way I can't really define. That kind of power is inherent in music for me, and in the dance I no longer have the ability to perform. I realized the other day that a short time spent with good music really is a tonic for the soul and I was able to completely change my mood for the entire day with one musically-driven glassworking session. Even now, as I write this I am listening to music (Better Than Ezra, "Extraordinary" at the moment) and I am feeling pretty darn fine.

Try it. I dare ya. Lose yourself in your favorite music the next time you feel crummy or have something not-fun to do, and see what happens.

(Ok, now it's Cake, "The Distance")

Friday, April 8, 2011


Today is a day when I certainly feel how far from twenty I really am. Several essential body parts have been hurting in one form or another since I got out of bed.

Oh I hear, ya, all of you 'older' people....I know, I know...

It started with the crackling of my neck and spine, which sounds like a zipper being pulled up, one of those super-chunky plastic sport zips with the big teeth. *crrrrick* The official term for it is 'crepitus', which sounds a lot more like 'crap, it's crushed' or something. All of my joints crack now, and I guess if I were to have personal entrance music, that would be it: the sound of a thousand bowls of Rice Krispies all being filled with milk, all at once. Thankfully, I've never had surgery on any of my really important joints, but it IS annoying to have most of my movements accompanied by a symphony of biological noises.

I'm moving incredibly slowly today. And I'm tired.

Usually I don't feel any different than I did way back when I was young(er) and indestructible. Apparently today is the payback for all the hours-long dance classes and grueling rehearsals, throwing myself around, staying up all night, drinking too much, not eating. There are probably only a finite number of floor slides, falls, and overreaching leaps that a body can take. I was too busy pushing the limits of my physical self to try to remember that my body was an instrument or a temple.

Today the temple looks like I've been worshipping at the altar of Too Much Chocolate, Not Enough Working Out.

When I do work out, my right hip complains loudly, and it sounds much like the joint is being disassembled and then reassembled...a loud *THUNK* and the ligaments slip over the ball of the joint, and then *THUNK* as it slips back. For that, I can blame three pregnancies, and not so much excessive dancing. I think.

My husband has had five knee surgeries. I can't really complain too much, because even when I have a day of pain, at least I can still walk and get around and do what I need to do. When HE has a bad knee day, he can barely walk.

I'm trying to learn to age gracefully, because it's what I want to do and because I think accepting the inevitable is sometimes far more healthy than trying to fight it every step of the way. I can't really relate to those women who have all kinds of plastic surgery done to remove wrinkles and lift and tuck this or that. After a while I doubt they even look or feel *real* anymore. I can't grasp why anyone would artificially tan themselves and end up looking not like a bronze goddess, but like an old handbag. My single concession to vanity in my aging process is hair color, because at almost-41, my hair is more than 50% grey, and I am not ready to give up my hair color. The beauty of it is, though, that the excessive grey gives me beautiful natural-looking highlights when I color, without doing anything special besides slapping the coloring goop on.

I wish I could lose weight easily, though. I realize I would have to exercise to a level I don't know if I can manage, OR stop eating anything that is any good, or soul-filling, in order to get down to a weight I can honestly say I like.

So I waver between significant bouts of terrible insecurity about myself on this journey of getting older, and moments of true self-acceptance in which I am happy with the reflection that gazes back at me in my mirror.

Since time is going to march on regardless of what I do or do not do, or what I think about any of it, I suppose the healthier, happier path would be to extend those moments of self-acceptance into days and weeks and years.

I'll try.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Spring has arrived in Virginia, and we have had several glorious days of sunshine and warm temperatures. So wonderful after months of cold and rain and snow!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Got my hair cut today after letting it grow out waaaay too long. What is it with all the men who seem to think all women need to have long hair? If they want long hair, they can grow their own hair out. Fine with me. I, however, am cute as hell with this haircut, and people can just deal with it.


The weather has been especially changeable today, and over the course of the last six hours, we have had cold, grey skies, BRILLIANT sunshine, and a torrential downpour that lasted about ten minutes before the brilliant sunshine returned, along with giant puffy clouds and a crisp blue sky. One of my favorite things is when the sky is a deep dark slate grey in one direction, and the sun is shining in the other direction.
I love how it brings the bare branches of the trees into sharp relief, and makes the green of the new leaves a rich shade of emerald. I'm not accomplished enough a photographer to really do it justice, but trust me, it's beautiful.

Today I am cutting up scraps of mat board and going nuts with the gesso in preparation for several mixed-media art pieces I am going to do for the 6x6x2011 exhibit and sale at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center in Rochester, NY. I don't know when I will be able to get the works done, but I am hoping for some uninterrupted time next week to work on them. I'm really excited about my ideas, and I hope they turn out the way I see them in my mind's eye.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Sometimes you just have to put the glasses on the dog.

Time and Space

Each day slips past the previous one, turning into weeks and months and year, until finally decades have gone by and you turn around and realize just how far you've come. The road ahead seems shorter than you remember it being, while the road behind rises and falls, looms and recedes, depending on your memories and perspective.

Once it seemed everything was before me, and now, I'm halfway to There, wherever that is.

I seem to have lost my road map, even as I know I have the things I've always wanted. Sometimes when you get There (or closer to it than you've ever been), you can't remember how you arrived, or why it was so important to reach the destination anyway. And then it all seems fixed, and unchangeable, and you feel the cold trickle of regret seep in over decisions you made way early in the game, when you didn't really know just how high the stakes were.

The truth, that nobody tells you when you're busy making Plans and Deciding Important Details, is that even halfway to There, wherever that is, you can still jump ship, switch horses, follow that other drummer you've been listening to for years. You can find that teeny tiny skinny little red line on the map and go for it, take it and see where it leads. Of course, it's hard to believe that, when you're mired in the details of daily life as it is. Some people never take this lesson to heart, but others, well...others take it a little too close to heart, and the fallout is catastrophic.

Strive to make the fallout less than catastrophic.

It frightens me significantly that I have only a finite amount of time left, that there are things I will never do again, options that I no longer open to me, people I have seen for the last time, places I will never revisit, and experiences that are over and done for good.

Perspective is knowing that half is still a lot, and it maybe even more than that. That repeating some experiences is not what I really want to do -- because they weren't really all that great in the first place. People who have gone were only supposed to be around for a short time. Experiences I have now are far richer for my having the freedom gained of years to fully immerse myself in them. The stakes are high and life is for living and I am an adult and I can do what I want to, regardless of the opinions of others. What an incredible relief it is to know that I am my own person, truly, and that the road ahead is wide and still long.

There's all the time in the world.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I am having a hard time re-adjusting after my nearly-weeklong trip to New York last week. Maybe it's because I was gone for a funeral, and that in itself brings up a whole lot of emotion and drama that I am still processing. Maybe it's because I feel so deeply entrenched in my family life here at home that being out of it for a week unbalances my world in a way that is pervasive. I don't know.

The kids were pretty good while I was gone, according to my saint of a husband. Since I've been back, they've been a bit clingy and demanding and generally high-energy. That's be expected, but what I crave is some silence and space and time. Being the mom of three in this busy household, those are all hot commodities in short supply! I know this, and so I make do with the available time and space I have. Not a whole lot of silence in this house, though.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I am affected by my past, by memories and decisions and things that were out of my control. Sounds basic, right? Sure. But it goes a long way toward self-knowledge when you can actually recognize what happens to you in a meta- sort of way.

I'm still processing the funeral and the time with my extended family. In a lot of ways, I don't feel as though I truly grieved for my uncle at his funeral, during the designated time and in the designated place for it, mostly because I felt I wanted to serve my mom, who struggled with the loss of her big brother. In some other ways, I am not only grieving a family member, but grieving the loss of extended family, the loss of a life growing up without my cousins around, the huge effect my family's move to the other side of the country had on me, and how completely at-home I feel when I am in Rochester.

I feel angry and sad and disappointed and confused, and I feel a longing for my past and for my family that I never knew I had. I feel trapped inside myself, with negative energy spilling out at my seams. I hope there is time for a long walk this evening. I am violently emotional.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Home, and Back Again

My uncle, who suffered with cancer for the past five and a half years, finally succumbed to the disease last Sunday morning. He was my mom's brother, and he lived in Rochester, New York, which is my hometown. On Tuesday, my mom and I drove up to Rochester (about an 8 hour drive from here) so we could be at his funeral. Mom and I do fairly well on road trips together, although there were a few moments over the week where, between her and her sister, I was going to leave them both on the side of the road for backseat-driving!

The visiting hours and funeral mass were terribly hard. It was like sailing directly into a storm, knowing how turbulent and terrifying the waters would be. Much crying. Much reminiscing and talking. My cousins have all grown up (of course they did, they are all around my age). It was good to see them and their families, and I definitely wish I had more personal history with them over the years.

I love going home to Rochester. Miami, Florida, where I unquestionably spent formative years, will never ever be home to me. I lived there, yes, but HOME is where I am from, and that is in upstate New York. Even though it has been years since I lived in or near there, it still feels like home. My mom grew up there, and while we had some free time this week, we drove around the area where she lived and went to school and had her first jobs. It was fantastic.

I thought about what it would be like to move back there, with my family now, where the snowfall is measured in feet during the winter, and spring doesn't come til April or May. I thought about what it would have been like to live there all my life, and not have spent the last nine years of my childhood in Miami. Granted, I had opportunities there that I likely would not have had in NY, but the trade-off was that I lost so many things that matter so much NOW.

Both of my parents grew up in Rochester, so both sides of my extended family are there, mostly. Of my mom's immediate family, my uncle John and aunt Pam had four children: Ron, Craig, Brian and Kim. Mom's sister had three children: Anita Jean, John, and Steven. They lived in Pennsylvania, but came often to NY. On my dad's side, his sister had a son, Frank, and his brother had two girls, Emily and Megan. So in total, that is ten first cousins in my family, seven of whom lived in Rochester. They range in age from 26 to 46, and I have memories of all of them as kids and teens.

As a 41 year old adult, I feel incredibly cheated out of being able to grow up with my first cousins. I realized recently that I am angry we had to move to Florida. I was angry as a nine year old going away from home and friends and family to live in pretty much a foreign country, and while over the last 30 years, it really hasn't mattered that much, I realize now that I am supremely angry. I don't understand, and I never will, why in the world my dad had to decide that living in Florida, so freaking far away, was so much better than being surrounded by family.

As an adult, I get the lack of money and opportunity. I understand about taxes, and politics and seeking new horizons. But I feel shattered by the loss of all that time with people who are close branches on my family tree, people I loved as a child and who I got along with and hoped to grow up with. I know, I could have done more myself to keep up with all of them, to stay close, to go back and visit. But we really rarely ever went back to Rochester, not unless someone died or got married or whatever. We never went there to vacation, or to visit people. I can count on one hand the number of times we were in Rochester during the period of 1979 through my high school graduation in 1988 -- four. A funeral, a wedding, a stay at my grandma's one summer, and a trip to check out colleges in the spring of 1988.

THAT, I will never understand. Why we never went home to visit.

There are things that I know: that my dad hated the snow, that he vacationed in Florida as a child and loved it, that he was a bank teller in my early life and I guess that path wasn't leading where he thought it would go quickly enough. My mom was a recently-graduated registered nurse. I don't know how she felt about the snow, or Florida, or even if she had ever been there before that spring in 1979 when my parents left my brother and I at my grandparents' house in Binghamton for a week while they went down to Miami to find a house for us.

I hated the house when I saw the Polaroids my parents brought back. No stairs. Concrete block. It had a pool, and that was exotic and interesting, but I am not sure if it was enough. I remember getting down there and hating how ridiculously hot it was. My eyes burned. We had to sleep on inflatable pool floats for a while because the moving van did not arrive as it was supposed to with our furniture. I cried for my friends, who were all going to the gifted program in fourth grade. My fourth-grade teacher at my new school was scary as hell, and the classes were huge and the hallways were all outside and it was HOT as the surface of the damned sun. I was harassed by the Cuban immigrant kids who were brought to our school for whatever reason (education? To learn English?) following the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. My nine-year-old rage was probably expressed more as silence.

Eventually, I adjusted. I attended a well-respected dance studio, got into the gifted program, made some friends and life went on. When time for college came, I absolutely knew that I had to go back home. And so I did, applying to SUNY-Brockport and SUNY-Geneseo, and ultimately choosing my beloved Geneseo.

By then though, everyone had moved on -- to college, to other lives and other places. Picking up the threads of childhood relationships wasn't possible, and my 18 year old self had plenty of living and experiencing and hopefully studying to do, too. Now that I am 41, though, I see just how important it is to me to have those connections in my family, as I see my cousins close to their siblings and to each other. I wish I could have been a part of that. I wish I could have had that for myself and for my family -- the history and the depth of family relations that exists, but that I am now peripherally a part of.

Am I really, truly angry at my parents? No. Not really. They were young and they made choices they probably felt were the right ones. It can't be undone, and wishing for it to be different is unproductive. I have built a terrific life here in Virginia, specifically in Richmond, with my husband and three children, and pulling up stakes for my ridiculous nostalgia and longing would be stupid and potentially damaging. As my kids are getting older, though, I find myself looking for reasons to go back and show them where I come from. Had I not had to go back this month for the funeral, I think a Spring Break trip would have been terrific. Maybe this summer. Or next year, since we have a Disney odyssey planned for this fall.

But I want to go back. Part of me wishes I'd never left.