I keep saying that. Now it feels real. I said it two weeks ago when my home for the last 8.5 years, crammed with clutter, office supplies, toys, and life, was empty. I said it when Rod and I received mail at our Conway address last week and slept on our bed in a brand new room.

I have said a dozen times this week as we’ve accomplished “last” after “last”…the girls’ last Rainbow class at church, our last playdate at their BFFs’ house, the last time eating here or there, or even today, just my last Friday waking up here.

Yesterday, Miranda asked me at two separate times, “Is the doggie coming with us?” and “Are Gramma and Papa coming with us?” I don’t know how she knows to ask these things, but she caught me off guard. The answer to both is no (the dog story is heartbreaking to us and one I’m avoiding, but our Sammie Dee is going to be in very loving hands).

Tonight is our See YouS Later party. I don’t now how to say goodbye. Every corner of this locale has a memory for me. My identity starts with being a Capriotti, living in Chicago Heights, going to Bloom Trail, dreaming of and attending University of Illinois, working at Steger mainstays like Marvell Bakery and Dari Whip and Scott’s U-Save. I love that I have grown in an area that is diverse and working class and and has the best pizza and is loyal to constantly disappointing sports teams.

But now it’s time to go.

What I won’t leave, what I can’t leave, is my circle. I was having dinner with my BFF the other night and waxing weepy about the friends I have here. My whole childhood was spent trying to fit in, trying to be one of the cool kids. It’s only in my 30s, since becoming a mom, that I stopped feeling that way, that I let down my guard, stopped trying so hard, showed my true self, and forged the most amazing friendships – some new, some renewed. (Note the picture. One of my friends gave me the hair…um…thing…in honor of the royal wedding. I wore it in the moving truck. That’s just how I am…) I am surrounded by women who add greatly to my life in so many ways. I dread the thought of leaving that behind. I can hardly swallow the thought of having my dream kitchen in Carolina but, at least for now, no one to drop by for coffee or lunch or a movie after the kids are in bed. I hate the thought of lost observations and one-liners that come with doing life together on a daily basis.

But I know, I know, I know that friends who are family have bonds that transcend distance. That is what life on the road has taught on me these past few years. I have friends in Tennessee who just suffered a losses in their families, others in Texas battling cancer this year…and somehow, through the power of words shared digitally and bonds that lie deep, we’ve been able to go through those things together.

I look forward to forging ahead with my best friend, my husband. This will be good for us. We’ll figure things out together, from where to go to church to where the pizza is tolerable. We’ll find the corners of our new world and give our kids years worth of amazing memories and joy. And the things that are in Chicagoland, the ‘things’ that matter, will not be left behind.