Years ago, when we first moved to California, me for the first time, M to come home, we spent two years living in his parents' back yard. (Don't worry, we didn't pitch a tent, we lived in the pool house, which was more like a guest cottage than a bathing suit hut.)
For two years we got to know the town, the library, the stores, the parks, the people. And then we moved 30 minutes south.
It made sense for us to move south. We bought a house close to M's law school. We bought a house we could afford, in a lovely neighborhood. It was the ideal choice at the time.
And yet, I had a job in the old town and, when C was born, I put her in daycare in the old town. After daycare C graduated to a preschool in the old town and eventually an elementary school even further north.
For 8 years we resided in one town and lived in another. It was a bit like having a split personality disorder. Our friends lived 30 minutes away from us. Our grocery store was 30 minutes away. Even our doctors and dentists were there. When I started freelancing, my "office" (aka my Starbucks) was in that town.
We rarely, if ever, invited people over because we didn't want to make people drive all the way to us. The kids didn't have playdates because all of their friends lived north of us.
This past week, on a night neither M nor I wanted to cook, we hustled the kids into the car and went out for Mexican food... in our town.
We drove 5 minutes and were downtown in the town we'd been pretending was ours for so long, but is actually ours now.
I looked around me and started to feel what I've always felt when I came to this town - a little bit like an imposter, a little bit like an outsider. And then I realized.
This is my town now. This is where my kids will grow-up. We have library cards to the neighborhood library. We can call friends and be at a playdate in 5 minutes or less. We run into friends at the park, at the grocery store, in the street. The pretense is over and is giving way to reality.
We're home. Finally.