When I knew we’d be moving away, back when I lived in Ludington, I would walk down to the end of US-10 every day with my camera, right where the road met the water. I’d stand there and starting with the view on my left, I’d take a series of photos, ending up with the view on my right. I hoped to have a series of panoramas when I was done, a scene from every season, something to remember where we used to live.
In the end, all those pictures were uploaded and then forgotten on numerous hard drives. Every once in a while I’d run across them and think, “Oh yeah, that project,” and then promptly move on to something else that seemed more pressing.
The thing is, we didn’t think we’d ever have to leave there. We planned to stay and finish raising our family. Moving to Jacksonville, Florida was a lot like moving to Mars. It was so bloody hot, for one thing, and there was no one around to talk to. I mean, everyone was indoors. Even though we lived in a nice residential area, in a nice house, with a big yard, it felt completely isolated compared to our old life, in our old town, where everyone knew us and we knew everyone.
The first year I spent in mourning, sometimes going to bed at 3 in the afternoon and staying there until the next day. I’d get up to fix dinner or do a little computer work, maybe, but I never went outdoors, I didn’t drive anywhere I didn’t absolutely have to. The kids were depressed as well. The schools were huge compared to what they were used to, and they felt lost. The second year, I started homeschooling with the boys and things got better. We met nice people, made friends, began exploring where we lived. Homeschooling probably saved all our lives, come to think of it.
But I still miss the landscapes I used to know. Now that I will be returning, I allow myself to imagine what it will be like to be back in the friendly woods, to be on the shore of Lake Michigan, to be racing leaves in the Pere Marquette River.
Sometimes, when I’m doing yoga and I lay back on the mat with my eyes closed, it’s as though I’m floating in familiar waters and I feel weightless. There is no hidden danger waiting to grab me from below, only the sun on my face and the feel of soft waves, lapping at my skin.