I left home at 15. Which is something I could never even image my kids doing. I remember the day I told my father that I was moving out and in with a school friend’s family. I remember how all he said was okay, and that was it. Three days later I was gone. My brother left home when he was 17. I would not see him again for many years. I would run into him at a Deep Purple concert and we would reunite for about 4 months. Then I would never hear from him again. Both my sisters were married right out of high school, and they would forever remain distant from my life. As we got older we would move to different states and seldom speak. As soon as I was the last child at home my folks got rid of the house we grew up in and moved into a couple of different apartments.When I moved out they bought a mobile home in a park that only took in older people. There would be no longer a room for me with them. years would pass without talking. I would pick up the phone once or twice a year to see if they were still alive, but they would never once call me to see how things with me were.  My parents both passed away without me knowing them at all. My cousins and uncles and aunts would also grow distant and far away. Facebook brought a lot of us together in a sense, and through that outlet we would at least communicate. Which I am very grateful for. 

My dad did tried at times, we would go to Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm when we were kids. But we didn’t have a lot of money and those places are so crowded and over priced and you spend the day rushing around. 

I got lucky when I met my wife. Her family is very close. Even as they got older they never moved more than a few minutes from each other. They are very close nit and see each other all the time. I would spend many years drifting and traveling. A ship without an anchor. Wherever the wind would take me. Now that I have a family of my own I never want them to not know where home is. Or ever feel like they no longer have a room under my roof.

Like many parents, I question my parental skills. I had no road map to go by. I would try just doing the opposite from my folks. But after time and four kids now within these walls, I am getting some kind of handle on it. One thing I have found that works is our day hikes and geo caching adventures. Whether it’s a couple of hours or an all day thing, or even a few days. I think it teaches them a lot. It’s quiet and gives us a chance to talk. It’s healthy, and we learn about the environment that is around us. Things you can eat, ways to make shelters, how to use maps and gps’s. I think they understand that I am there for them more than anything. It’s not about a roller coasters or rides. Image It teaches them that you can have fun without spending any money at all. We rely on each other for things, each person carries something different, we map out where we are going, pack food, and get to see a lot of beauty. The passed few years  it has become a very important part of our lives. And the kids love it. When we reach a waterfall or find a stream or see a deer or discover a geo cache. It just makes for a great time. I hope as they get older and create lives of their own that they will look back on their childhoods and remember the times we spent together and not just the places they have been. I hope they always know how much they mean to me, and that they will always have a home.


About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
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