My home has been the home of many of my ancestors. For roughly two hundred years. I love knowing this. I was lucky enough to have access to and memory of one of the original log homes of my Irish ancestors who settled here. It was “magnificent”. It was not a cabin, it was a house. Multi-storied. Many rooms. With additions built on over the years. I slept in that house. I played in the yards. I called one of the bedrooms Fort Gertrude after a great great aunt that I actually knew and who was one of the last family to live on ‘the farm’. I did a lot of my growing up there. And I have since, raised my children here.
Now I contemplate leaving here.
Not just leaving, but selling. Letting go of something that was important enough to many generations to keep. Do I have the right to do this? I know I have “paid” for it. But the mortgage on my home does not equal the equity of family history. I have my own reasons for wanting to move on. And I have reasons to stay. My reasons to leave are selfish. I don’t want to spend nearly 2 hours of my work day life driving to and from work. There just seems to be so much more living I could be doing instead of getting frustrated in traffic and frustrated with the lack of time. Because right now time is speeding up. How did I get to be 46. It was just yesterday I was fifteen and washing my hair in a five gallon bucket when we camped here on the weekends. Leaving would mean the possibility of so many things. Moving to a place where access to others would be easier. Access to “stuff” would be faster. Access to work would be quicker. It would just mean more time for life.
But staying means keeping that connection. Looking out on the lane that my grandmother walked. My great greats. My great great and on grandparents. I know a few stories from my grandmother about living here so many years ago. And there are a few remnants of my family’s history left here. There are stones from the foundations of the log house and the barn. There are nails from the house. There are receipts going back almost 2 centuries that represent goods purchased to live, and taxes paid on land owned. The things I actually know about here, are few. Most of the joy I get from being here is how I think it was. The imagination I put in to seeing the generations building here, arriving from Ireland, being a part of building the surrounding communities. Seeing churches and schools built. Small children who are captured as severe looking adults in old photographs. Those faces belong to my history. They belong to this place. And I imagine their essence being here.
But along with this place comes trauma and tragedy. Not everything about here is perfect. I recognize this.
But it’s still a huge step to say… I am leaving. And I won’t be back. Because I know if I do leave, I won’t come back. I’m not a “go backer”. But I don’t know if I am able to do that. Make that decision. Cut it loose. Leave it behind. And go somewhere else. I feel comfortable here. On this spot. I don’t feel close to the community. My children do. It is their home. This place here is comfort to me. If I could pick it up and move it I would. But I can’t. I know if I leave the only way I will keep it is in my memory.
I’ve taken the step to look at places. Keep my eyes open. I have dreamed of living on a bike trail. A place where when I come home from work I can hop on my bike and goooooooooooooooooooo. Or even ride my bike to work. Ride my bike to the store. Walk out my door and be somewhere in five minutes, ten or fifteen minutes. And yet, to have that luxury, I have to give up the peace and privacy of a country setting and quiet living. I have to give up this connection that I have used to fuel my imagination and my passion for family history.
As silly as it seems I wish I knew what the great great greats would think of this. What would they think of all of the generations that have come after them. I am pretty certain that it looks nothing now like it did when the first McGreevy’s settled here. I myself have seen this place cycle through many changes. So I have no idea what they saw when the first got here. But I’ve imagined it, many different ways. I know they were brave enough to cross an ocean and start someplace they had never seen. And it wasn’t like they could go back. All I want to do is live closer to work, and I see it every day. I know what I would be getting in to. And yet, I haven’t the courage, to make a final decision. Or the wisdom to know what it should be.