Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Parent"dox: When a Place is More than a "Place"

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #16:  When a Place is More than a "Place"

Have you ever been to a Place that became more than just a "place" to you?  

Maybe it was the beauty of the Place itself.  Maybe it was the way you felt when you were in that Place.  Maybe it was the people that filled that Place.  Maybe it was the memories made in that Place.

Whatever the reason, the Place somehow transformed and became more than just a "place" for you.

So Many places, So Few Places
There are literally millions upon millions of places in the world.  

Houses.  Parks.  Streets.  Hiking Trails.  Swing sets.  Restaurants.  Malls.  Beaches.  High School Gymnasiums.  Campgrounds.  Apartments.  Hospitals.  Churches.  Backyards.  Benches.  Treehouses.  Coffee shops.  Libraries.  

There are, however, very few of these places that become Places.  The beauty of Places is they are completely unknown, unseen by the common passerby.  It is hidden in plain sight.  A Place is known only to the person who holds that Place dear; only to the person who has experienced, lived, and breathed that place in such a way that it became a Place to them.  To only them and them alone.  

For me, I've been lucky enough to have just returned from one my Places.  (Oh yes, you can have more than one Place...)  It is a Place I've visited countless times.  It has become a Place to me because of it's beauty, because of the way it makes me feel when I am there, because of the people that have filled it, and most of all, because of the memories that have been made there.

It is the beach cottage my Mom has rented for the past 11 years.  At first glance, it is nothing special, nothing fancy.  It is probably close to 100 years old.  The walls and floors are pretty bare; the furniture is no doubt older than I am.  No one else would know what a treasure it is, that it has become a part of me and I a part of it, in a way I can't really explain.    

It has become my Place.

It has become my Place simply by being there, year after year.  As I think back over the days and nights spent there, I realize that this Place has somehow found a way to capture so many of the important events from the past 11 years of my life.  It has seen me through most of the milestones of my adult life.  

Same Place,  A Million Different Memories
I remember the first year out there, when I went with my Mom that first day of her week there and we looked around to try to figure out how to get into the place.  And then wandered around inside checking out the kitchen and the porch and the bedrooms, not knowing what was around each corner or behind each door.  

I remember a year when I went out and stayed for as many days or nights as I felt like, pretty much making up my mind as I went each day.  I would stay up late, sleep in until noon, and eat whatever I wanted, whenever it sounded good, including ice cream for dinner or breakfast at our favorite local breakfast spot at 1:00pm.

I remember a year when I would schedule the days I would head to the cottage around the days my boyfriend had to work or could come out to visit.  I would try to convince him to head out to the beach as soon as he was done with work, or stay an extra night, even if it meant he had to leave at 5:00am the next morning.  (Yes, that same "boyfriend" later became my fiance, then my husband, then the father of my children...and is still putting up with me all these years later!)

I remember the year I spent many hours on the porch with papers and sticky notes and notecards spread everywhere, as I put the finishing touches on things that needed to be finished for my wedding, which was only a month away.  I searched through family-owned shops downtown for the perfect stationary to write thank you notes to my bridesmaids and spent an afternoon shopping for clothes for myself and my husband-to-be for our honeymoon.

I remember a time when I planned my days at the cottage based on my graduate class schedule.  I would finish a class, drive out to the beach, then spend the afternoon reading and highlighting books for class under a beach umbrella.  I'd squeeze out as many minutes as I could there with family and friends, sometimes even driving back to class still wearing my bathing suit with a pair of running shorts and a T-shirt thrown over it.

I remember the only year out of all 11 years that I didn't stay a single night at the cottage.  I walked up and down the boardwalk and the beach, and saw my sister come to my defense as we waited over an hour to be sat at a restaurant.  I was expecting the arrival of my first child literally any I was past my due date...and my son decided to come the Tuesday of the week that my Mom was at her cottage that year.  We now celebrate his birthday each year we're out there.

I remember the year we made a very unplanned, middle-of-the-night trip to the ER with my 2-year-old son and his 6-week-old old sister in tow.  My mom came to the rescue, as my husband wasn't there because he was working.  I was scared and unsure, especially in a town and a hospital not my own, but we were taken such good care of that I knew we were in good hands.  I will forever appreciate everyone who helped make everything OK that night.

I remember the first year we decided to stay for an entire week, because it was easier to pack up everything we needed for a family of 4, including 2 small children, and just stay put, than to come and go a few nights here and there.  [Although this year, for the first time in 5 years, this Mom didn't have to pack diapers or baby food.  And we still stayed for the entire week.  Two words for you:  Ah.  Mazing.]

I remember my children playing on the porch swing, walking the pier, eating ice cream, serving "food" through the porch window, staying up way too late, laughing until it made me laugh out loud with their friends and cousins, putting together puzzles, swimming until their teeth chattered and yet still refusing they were cold, digging in the sand.  They have come to love the cottage just as much as I have.  

Someday, it may become their Place, too.  

Or maybe they'll find a Place all their own.

Either way, my wish for them is simply that they have at least one place that becomes a Place for them, for reasons that are entirely their own.

I wonder how many more years of memories will accumulate in this Place.  I try to forecast what other life events will be tied to this place.  I think about the friends and family that will continue to be linked to this Place, as they are part of the reason it is so much more than just a "place" now, too

I am thankful this Place has welcomed me and stayed with me for so long.  I know now, it will never, ever leave me.

Your Place
Where is your Place?  Have you found it?  Are you still seeking it?

Maybe it's a place you visit everyday, or maybe it's a place you can never go back to again.  Is it a place you love to be by yourself and enjoy solitude, or a place filled with the beautifully chaotic soundtrack that is lots of family and friends?  Maybe it is a place that holds memories or stories or music or love.  Maybe it is a place that holds possibility or opportunity.  Is it a place from a certain period in your life or a time in your life you felt truly alive?  Maybe it is a place that causes to you to think, to reflect, to dream.  Maybe it is a place that just feels like it's a part of you; that it's always been a part of you, no matter what else has changed.  

If you're willing to share, I'd love to hear about your Place...

Whether you are able to travel there in person or simply through precious memories; whether it is a Place all your own or a Place shared with many; whether you have been there countless times or are still seeking it...
You Are a Good Mom when you are in a Good Place.


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  1. There's a sandbar off the Boca Chica Naval Air Station just above Key West where I will go to die in my dreams. The water sitting at about 90 degrees, the sand so white and silky, the gentle play of the lapping water...

    1. Sounds amazing!! And beautiful and relaxing and incredible... Thanks so much for sharing and leaving a comment, Lynda.


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