Out here on my own

A year ago today, my parents, brothers, two of my dad’s former students and I moved the entire contents of my childhood home into a moving truck. The next day, they were off to Bel Air, Maryland, a cute little town about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.

I’d assumed that we’d eventually live in a different state, but I always figured that it would happen two years later, once I’d graduated from college, and that I’d be the one doing the moving. They were going to stay in the house in south Tempe with the Pizza Hut roof and the albino geckos in the backyard.

Since moving to Maryland, they bought a house that I haven’t seen yet, but that sounds great. It has an upstairs and a downstairs and a basement, which my mom always wanted, as well as a pool, which my brothers love. The pool’s only been usable for a week, and my youngest brother told me he’d already been in it five times when I called him on his birthday yesterday.

The house also has built-in bookshelves, which I imagine as looking like something out of “Beauty and the Beast.” That movie’s borderline pornography for bibliophiles.

It sounds like a great home, but it will never be my home. And not having a real home is kind of a weird concept to get used to, but it’s not quite so strange as the idea that I don’t have family anywhere nearby. During the school year, I keep busy enough that I don’t have time to think about it, but with the small amount of free time that summer brings, it really sunk in that they’re far away.

May’s always been a big month in my family — along with the school year ending and various promotions and graduations, we also have Mother’s Day, my mom’s birthday and two of my brothers’ birthdays within two weeks of each other. This year was the first year I wasn’t there for any of them, and there’s a lot that gets missed when you’re just talking on the telephone.

I had to grow up a lot this year without having the safety net of knowing my parents were just a few miles away and able to help if I needed them. There weren’t any more lunch dates with Dad when the semester was rough, and I couldn’t call Mom for a ride or help without checking time differences.

I couldn’t watch someone’s Little League game after a stressful week or just hang out in that familiar living room with the people who’ve known me longest and best, and when I move next week, there won’t be a trusty Chevy Venture and a 16-year-old intent on showing off his strength to help out.

Overall, I think we’re all probably doing better. My brothers are making friends in the new town, my mom loves being back among trees and greenery and my dad really likes the new job he has. I’m learning to be more independent and handle problems by myself without asking for help unless I absolutely need it.

In the end, home isn’t a house. It’s knowing that there are people out there who I love more than anything and that they feel the same about me. We won’t all be back together until sometime in August, but at least that gives something else to look forward to this summer.

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