You can always go back home but don’t expect it to be the same as when you left, nor the people for that matter. As much as a person changes over time so does the place(s) which helped shape them.

These last few weeks have begun a change for our family. Dawn graduated high school and is dipping her toes in the pool of adulting. After graduation weekend Dawn and I along with baby J loaded up the SUV and headed out across the country on I-80.

Dawn did most of the driving as I sat in the back next to baby J. Do you know how many stops we would have to make to feed and change a baby on a road trip?

Dawn’s driving was great and by the end of our first day we arrived in Waterloo, Iowa to visit (crash for the night) my brother and his family. It was so fabulous visiting with them. Even though I fell asleep and missed game night. Spending time with my sister in law and their kids was so nice. They recently moved to the area, perfect timing! We weren’t giving each other wedgies or noogies but we bonded, even in the short time I was able to see this part of the family.

Fast forward two days later and we arrived back in my hometown, ok one of my hometowns, Mission Viejo! My grandparents still live in the same house they’ve lived for… well longer than I’ve been alive. I love them so much! We spent a few days hanging out with them, chatting and catching up. I got to “meet” my teenage nephews and sassy niece. We moved so long ago they’ve become new people. Oh boy does my sister have her hands full! Love them all to bits. Speaking of… my sister T and I (haha cross your t’s and dot your i’s) lived together the most of all the siblings. We grew together and grated each other’s nerves as teenagers. T is a great mom to her kids and I am beyond grateful she is there for our grandparents as they age (ugh let’s not go there today).

Next up was a quick flight to Portland! Yep, my mom moved to Oregon a few years ago and this was the FIRST visit for any of us Salisburys! The four of us spent 2.5 days driving around this gorgeous part of our country.
Side note: when my family comes to visit us in NEPA the comments are 95% about all the trees. Yep, we live in a forest. Go ahead google Milford, Pike county, PA images… I’ll wait…  really go ahead…
See! Trees. It is truly beautiful here but back to my point… which was what? Oh yes Portland has stunning forests and trees! The difference I’ve noticed is the cities, towns and populated areas are cleared of trees. The wooded areas in Portland are not everywhere. Oh and the trees themselves… mostly evergreens. It smelled like Christmas any time we were outside. YES! Spending time with mom was nice. We didn’t have too much down time or exploring time. We did visit Cannon beach, Voodoo donuts, Powell’s books and a few other tourist musts in Portland. Most of the trails mom knew about were closed due to the fires last year. The beauty in the devastation is the forest has begun to heal itself and regrow. One day it will be strong and beautiful again. The paths and views may be altered but the beauty and strength of the forest will endure. If you know more about my relationship history with my mom, you’d see the analogy. So Portland wasn’t quite a place to go back to but the person there was.

A similar experience was on our drive to Utah. My uncle recently moved to Las Vegas. Our travels from California (we had to fly back and get the car we drove across the country remember?) took us right through Vegas so why not see if Uncle Steve wanted a quick visit?! Much of the time I spent with my uncle was in my youth. He is younger than my mom and was always around in my childhood. Over time our lives took us in different directions and we simply fell out of touch. Over an early dinner we reminisced, he met Baby J and Dawn was able to hear stories of when I was a kid. Didn’t go back home per se but rekindled a bond here. We won’t be able to get the missing years back but we can grow from here.

Final destination time! Utah where two of my sisters live! Yes there is other extended family but we really did not have too much extra time. My youngest sister E is taking in Dawn to help her grow and become a fantastic adult. Milford does not have anything to offer a recent HS graduate and Dawn was not intending to attend college. Jobs are few and far away. I could go on but let it suffice that Pike county is not a great place for young people to grow and blossom into adults. Great for growing up and being a grown up… that transition area is tricky to navigate. Anyway I digress. Why live with E and not R? Well E offered first of all. Secondly, E and Dawn are closer in age, and similar in personality. As we were visiting I got to know my sisters R and E a little better too. They are both great moms to little people and good to each other.

As the oldest of the siblings by a minimum of four years I was more of a babysitter than I was a sister. As adults we are getting to know each other again. Don’t get me wrong, I can still tell you stories about my siblings growing up but it was my growing up… not theirs. Thick as thieves describes the younger three kids growing up. As they grew up and after I had moved away, I got to be like the cool aunt. Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, beach and road trips.

Spending time with my family in these places I consider my home have shown me we can go back home. I went and came back with new bonds, love and places to visit. E and I even had a conversation about how we remember people as we last saw them. I told E she was still 12 years old to me. I’ve seen her since then but she will always be my baby sister. Each of us have changed and grown, a little of that growth has been apart. But I found our bonds are still there.

Having to return home to Milford was bitter sweet. As Dawn and E left Baby J and I at the airport I could feel myself being pulled in two. I will continue to seize every opportunity to go back. Rekindling friendships with friends who have become family and family who have become friends. Going back is possible. Bring your open heart and mind with you for even more experiences and history to be made. I learned about my family as a whole and as individuals. This trip to my past and Dawn’s future was like looking in a magic mirror. I would take that trip again.

Would you go back?

PS: to all my west coast friendlies thank you for understanding this was not quite a social visit. Heck I didn’t even get to the beach while I was in California!

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