Some days I'll be driving down the road and realize I'm not sure where I'm going. Blame it on my mushy middle-aged mind, juggling three kids (not literally--they're all too heavy for that now) and all their activities, or the fact that my mini van doesn't have a GPS system. Usually it's just a moments hesitation and then I'm back on track. Some days there's a u-turn involved (what I like to call the scenic route). It takes a little longer, but I eventually get where I'm going.
Then there are days, especially after getting back in touch with an old friend who is in some far flung part of the world, when it seems odd that they ended up there and I ended up here. Maybe I should have taken a different route and traveled to some far away land. Then I really do wonder "How did I get here?"
"Here" is the United States, where for all it's many failings, a child can really become anything they want. A girl can be an astronaut, a boy can be a ballet dancer, and a mixed race child raised by a single mother can become president. My great grandparents came to this country looking for a better life. It seems that is the defining characteristic that binds the American people, no matter what their skin color or religion--adventurous, fearless people always looking for something better. This is where I am.
"Here" is the Washington state, where it really does rain quite a lot. Unless you live in the eastern half of the state, and then you're either too hot or buried in snow, wondering what happened to all the trees. But my Washington is wet and mild. It's green most of the year and moss is the state plant. The people are intelligent and laid back, lots of Scandanavian descendants. We allow other nationalities, too, but we require them to learn the local language: "Uff da" and "Ya sure, ya betcha." My great grandparents came here from Norway and felt at home. This is where I am.
"Here" is the Marysville/Arlington/Stanwood area. Sometimes we're North Lakewood, sometimes Lake Goodwin, sometimes Seven Lakes. It all depends on who you talk to . To the locals "here" is Lakewood, a community defined by the school district boundary and the numerous lakes (Let's see: Goodwin, Loma, Shoecraft, Ki...It's kind of like the seven dwarfs, I can never remember them all...Sleepy, Dopey and Doc?) Our kids go to one of the three small elementary schools that are within spitting distance of each other. (Okay, you'd have to be a pretty good spitter, but with a decent wind and proper hydration...) Then they move next door to the middle school and then across the baseball field to the high school. Many are proud to call themselves "Lakewood Lifers," people who have gone to these schools since kindergarten. You do not need six degrees of separation to link anyone here--one or two will do. This community is small but inclusive; me and my Southwest Washington ways were welcomed without hesitation. I know my neighbors, my UPS driver, and the parents of my kids' friends. Many of them went to school together. We chose this place to be my home and this community to help us raise our kids. This is where I am.
"Here" is a 4 bedroom house, with a backyard big enough for a trampoline, an above ground pool and more weeds than we could ever pull in a lifetime. I live here with my husband of 17 years, our 3 kids, and 2 dogs. The mortgage may never be paid in full, the outside needs a paint job, and all of the light switches are always sticky. Controlled chaos is the law of the land here, and while I may not rule with a iron fist (or a Tiger Mother discipline), the occupants of this place humor me. I am loved 80% of the time, hated 5%, and ignored the rest. This is where I am.
I still don't know how I got here, and I'm not sure I ever really knew where I was going, but here is a pretty good spot.