It's been two years this month since I moved from South Central PA back to my home state of Florida. Two years ago, on April 17th, I filled the tank on my overstuffed Forenza, and my two girls and I headed south, out of Elizabethtown. We drove along the Susquehanna River one last time, and bade farewell to what had been home for nearly a decade.
A few months ago, I came across a song called Susquehanna, by a UK artist named Maddie Southorn, and I was entranced. Although her song was about a ride from Washington D.C. and through Baltimore, both frequent haunts of mine during my PA days, she captured the feeling of winter and the river...and bittersweet love... completely.
It brought back memories...good and sad more clearly than anything I had heard.
As I listened, I was once again driving along Front Street in Harrisburg. It's winter, and the river and sky are a nearly identical pewter grey. The trees are bare, and the road is edged with piles of brownish -black snow and ice pushed there by the early morning plows.
I was often alone on those drives, heading back from some real or made-up errand into the city and away from my isolated rural farmhouse. A few brave souls ran along the river's edge. Bundled up figures walking dogs hurried along, clearly anxious to finish the task at hand and return to cozy apartments.
Those days were bittersweet, because money was short, and my return home was all too often greeted by a heater empty of oil, and yet new doors seemed to be opening with a budding career and a love that held every promise of lasting forever. My children were growing and learning, but my eldest daughter was battling the often crippling pain of Juvenile Arthritis. It was a time of transition.
That river, with its icy waters and steely color reflected my sadness. Memories of the same river in soft, green spring, or hot shimmery summer gave me something to hold on to. And like the line in the song, I often longed for some one or something to "carry me away."
Carry me away...
Long before I heard that song, the river heard me.
It was the element of Pennsylvania to which I said good-bye.
Now that my life is so different, and I live beneath palm trees, I miss that river...the same one I said good-bye to....I miss some of the dreams I had then. I miss my youngest daughter's baby years, spent together walking and playing in the parks along the river. I miss my synagogue, right there on Front Street, where the wind off the river so often chased us from car to doors in record time, and then into the cozy brightness of the sanctuary. I miss the art festivals and concerts. I miss dear friends, and those special people I just started to know when I left.
But it was time to go.
I'll be visiting Pennsylvania this summer. And while I'm there, I'll pay a visit to my river. It probably won't be grey and cold that day. But I'll remember that feeling...and the river that finally, thankfully, carried me away.