From the second our plane touched down in Charlotte, I felt like I had more space to breathe than I have in months. A much-needed break? Definitely. But more than that, a calm that only comes from being home. As we drove to Rockingham that evening, the spring air felt rejeuvenating. Driving in the dark, I could smell fields of green grass and heavy purple wisteria vines. I could hear crickets. The silence of the country roads felt like an embrace. The next morning we woke in the Sandhills...to family, a warm drizzle outside, dogwood and azalea in full bloom and pine trees as far as the eye could see. Henry was filled the brim with joy as he ran around the kitchen with his aunt Pennie and his grandmother (Halmoni). They fed him strawberries and let him play king of the house. He chased Peter's old dog Brady around the garage and snuck him pieces of Kibble while the rain fell outside.
A few days later when we returned from the beach, we stopped by the family store and let Henry race through the aisles. He laughed and squealed and I knew he remembered this space. To pass the time before our Korean family dinner, we walked on a dirt trail in the pine forest, chasing the doggies and letting Henry drag sticks in the sand.
At that moment, I watched Henry's childhood unfold in a way I had always hoped for but had yet to experience. I wanted time to stop time right then and there, but of course I couldn't.
The next morning we packed up our rental car for the airport, said our goodbyes in the driveway. We stopped for biscuits and pimento cheese and then hopped on 74 back to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
I know our time in New York is temporary and that we ultimately are making a reasonable choice for our family, but man do I miss the south, our little cottage in Raleigh, family and friends.
As we settle into our second year in Saratoga Springs, I am hopeful that these environs will soon feel familiar, that we will have a sense of place here.
Still, it is nice to know that no matter how far away we are, there is no place like home.