We’ve been back in Michigan for almost three years. And at least once a week I stop, realizing how grateful I am to be here. Close to family. Close to the family cabin (and hence nearly free vacations). Close to Lake Michigan. Able to experience sledding and idyllic Michigan summers. But having grown up here, I guarantee I wouldn’t have appreciated it without going away.
Chicago taught me to be grateful for the beaches on this side of the lake.
Massachusetts taught me to be grateful that our parents are a one hour drive away instead of a 16 hour drive.
Alabama taught me to be grateful for crisp autumn days.
And there were amazing things about living elsewhere. Chicago didn’t shut down at 10pm. Boston in the fall. Never wearing a winter coat in Alabama. But now that we’re back, I know how much I have to be grateful for, right here. And I can be grateful in a way I never could’ve been without leaving.
We’ve been in our house for almost three months now. And at least once a day I stop, realizing how grateful I am to be here. With our fenced in backyard that allows our kids to spend countless hours outside. Our basement where our kids’ art supplies can spread out freely. But I can guarantee if we hadn’t spent the majority of our married life and most of our kid’s lives in apartments, I wouldn’t be so grateful.
Our Chicago apartment taught me to be grateful for grocery shopping without dragging the groceries from the car to the lobby, the lobby to the elevator, the elevator to the hallway of our 12th floor apartment, and the hallway to our kitchen.
Our Massachusetts apartment taught me to be grateful for our kiddo having her own room. She slept in our walk in closet for the first two years of her life. (Don’t worry, it was huge. And we took off the door and put up a curtain. It was all good).
And even though we had a house in Alabama (which we loved), it taught me to be grateful for a yard without fire ants.
And our apartment here in Michigan taught me to be grateful for a place where my kids can throw temper tantrums without the neighbors hearing. And a garage so I don’t have to put my kids’ big winter jackets on, lug them across a slippery parking lot, start the car, take off their winter coats (safety first), and buckle them into their carseats with the windchill hovering around zero.
And there were amazing things about living in our various apartments. The 12th story view of downtown Chicago. The ability to call maintenance to take care of the dripping faucet. The fact that someone else mowed the lawn and plowed the snow. The lower price that allowed us to pay off student loans. But now that we’re in a house, I know how much there is to be grateful for, because we spent so much time in apartments.
Our various living situations have taught me I don’t deserve to live where I want and in the house I want. That I am incredibly privileged to have always had safe, warm, dependable housing and the opportunity to make friends throughout the country. They have taught me to be incredibly grateful for what I have. And to not take any of it for granted. To be generous with others. And to never forget that gratefulness is the gateway to contentment in whatever our situation.
How has your past made you more grateful for your present?