I grew up on a rocky chunk of coast, an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. Locals refer to the island as "The Rock," and that's an apt descriptor.
One thing that adoption gave me was a rock-solid base. Not only is the island itself composed of granite, but my adoptive parents are similarly rock-solid in their values and stability. They have been married for more than 50 years, have lived in the same house for almost 45, and are pillars in their community. They have never faltered or failed to be there for me when I needed them.
The island is also stunningly beautiful with take-your-breath-away scenery and easy access to nature. And, of course, there's the ocean. My ocean. When I return to visit my adoptive parents, one of the first things I do is walk through the streets of the small town to the path that leads to the water. When I catch sight of the first patch of blue, my heart quickens, and when I reach the point where the full bay opens to my view, all anxiety washes out of me. I breathe in, and everything is right. I find I can think clearly; answer to problems I have struggled with come to me easily.
When I am there I sometimes think, "I don't know how I can bear to live apart from this."
But then I return to the place where I have lived for the past 18 years. It is not beautiful. It's not rock solid; in fact, it's crumbling -- an urban area struggling to hold on in times of economic decline. It is not a place I would have picked, but it seems to have picked me. I came here for a job and stayed. It was here that I gave birth to one daughter, met my husband, and found my second daughter by way of foster adoption. Erica, my adopted daughter's first mother, is here, and she and I are currently full of plans regarding work that we want to do locally by way of our fledgling organization Ashley's Moms. And I am connected to the community in other ways. Friends. Church.
And so I will remain here for now. It is not yet time to return permanently to the other place I call home. But the pull is always there, and I've warned my husband to be prepared. One day, I may wake up and say, "I can't stand it anymore -- I've got to get back to The Rock."