One of the nice things about moving to Bainbridge Island is that we’re closer to Lily’s godfather, Arun, and his family, who have a home just across the Puget Sound in Snoqualmie. We met Arun when he and Tim worked together in Minnesota years ago (Lexie was a baby) and we quickly grew to love the entire family, which includes Arun’s wife, Alraune, and her parents, Abhijit and Ranita.
A few months after we moved to Bainbridge, we went out to dinner with the Kothanath/Chowdhury crew. Alraune had taken a job in the Netherlands and she was cheerfully telling us about their new apartment and how different it was from American apartments. Apparently, there weren’t a lot of closets so she had to store her clothes all over the place. She laughed as she described getting a shirt here, pants there, and a scarf in yet another room.
Seattle was having the rainiest winter since Reagan was president, we were told, and, as Alraune shared her story, I thought about the drying rack I’d set up near the front door of the house we were renting because there was nowhere else to put it. I missed my big mudroom back home with the pull-out drying rack over the sink and plenty of room for extra racks when needed. And the beds for wet and muddy dogs (with a door I could close) and the beautiful shelves Grandpa Tony had made with room for lots of storage baskets and a seat for the kids to sit on as they put on their boots.
While I’d agreed to this PNW adventure so Tim could pursue an exciting job opportunity, I’d been feeling sorry for myself as I tried to fit our lives into a rental that didn’t always cooperate. But to hear Alraune talk about inconveniences as though they were adventures made me think again. Yes, there was no place to put muddy dogs, but I loved our walks along the Salish Sea and the sound of sea lions barking in the distance. Yes, I missed the beautiful home we’d built, but I was grateful we’d found a place on short notice that fit all of us (including two big dogs and a cat) that we could afford. Was I or was I not going to embrace this adventure? Was I going to do everything I could to make this place feel like home for my family?
I announced at the time that I’d give the PNW a year, fully expecting to move back to Wisconsin at the end of it. But that year stretched to four as we fell in love with Bainbridge Island and began to create a life here. I’ve come to accept that part of me will always miss our old house and midwestern community, but as Henning Mankell wrote, “You can have more than one home. You can carry your roots with you, and decide where they grow.”
Christmas will be bittersweet this year. I’m grateful all of my children will be here with us, but it’s painful knowing our family won’t be able to visit. But 2021 contains the hope of a new house that’s truly ours, and we look forward to gathering again with friends and family, from near and far. I hope that, wherever you are, you feel the peace and comfort of being “home” for Christmas.