I am moving out of my family home after 22 years. This is where I’ve raised my family and my most cherished memories have been formed. The beautiful sound of the creek, the birds that begin to sing at dawn, the butterfly park a block away that fills my rose garden with butterflies, the graceful rooms, the soft light, and so much more.
I am pulling up the roots I carefully planted over twenty years ago. I moved here when I was 36 years old and six months pregnant with my second child. I bought the house from the original owner who lived here for 30 years raising her own four children.
As I sort though the artifacts of these years I try to determine what will have value in the future? Obviously, the photographs were the first to be carefully boxed up and sent to storage, the handwritten notes from the kids, the letters to Santa Clause and the misspelled second grade writing projects are harder to sort. Will I find them as charming when I unpack them in ten years as I do now? It’s hard to know.
The rabbit hole I fall into as I begin to sort the more difficult things is extreme. There are so many things in a home; juicers, electric mixers, waffle irons, a tool for everything, art, picture frames, lamps, vases, baskets, serving platters, jumper cables, bicycle pumps, snow chains, and so on. How much of all of this do I take with me? What will I realistically need? What must be left behind?
I didn’t realize that I would need about two years to pack because as I pick up each picture or letter it takes me twenty minuets to get back to doing what I was doing before. On principal I do not think if you are lucky enough to receive a love letter that you should ever throw it away. My mother threw away the love letters my father wrote from Vietnam and as an adult I find this horrifying as I am extremely sentimental. As a result, I spend an entire afternoon sitting in my garage reading the love letters from someone who was very important to me in the twenties. We lived apart for most of the years we were together, and I had saved a boxful of his letters. For two people who loved each other so much it seams impossible (even now) that we couldn’t find a way to stay together. And, more shockingly that I would marry someone else just three years later, and we would never speak again. In this box, I had also saved letters I had written to him, but didn’t send. This was an amazing gift to my future self. Who knew how important it would be to read my own words alongside his so many years later? I started one letter to him stating that every time I saw him it felt like a car accident. Caught in a deadlock of conflicting intentions we could not be together nor could we break up proving the adage that sometimes love is just not enough.
As I read these words I wonder if I will ever feel that way again? Not the car accident emotions, but the feeling of caring that much.
The day that I finally did pull the rip cord on that relationship I met my husband. He was my neighbor and he invited me to dinner by putting a post it note on my front door. The last thing I wanted to do was be alone, so I knocked on his door before changing out of my work clothes. As a banker we wore suits in those days; skirts with jackets, silk blouses, hose and heels. We walked to dinner and I told him the whole sad story. He was a sympathetic listener to put it mildly and concluded my previous boyfriend was an “idiot.”
We started dating and he would tell me, “I don’t want to be your rebound,” of course he was most definitely my rebound. I dated other people, but in the end we married three years later. Since we were neighbors he wrote me just a handful of love letters, but they too were beautifully crafted as he was an excellent writer as well. He also wrote poems. One of his to me started with the line, “You’re so pretty and witty,” and ended with “the first eight were great” for our eighth anniversary. In return I would write him poems with golf themes. My daughters and I also write each other poems as birthday gifts. Without question our family poems went directly to storage.
Sifting and sorting through the memories made by a family is time consuming and emotional. Undoubtedly, it takes time to pull up roots that were so diligently planted.
It seams unimaginable that I will be living again on my own after so many years raising a family. I really don’t know what to think yet, as this next chapter is not what I had imagined when I so hopefully and happily moved into this house and made it a home. Now, I pass it on to another family and children will once again run through its halls making their own memories and writing their own poems.
Love and blessings.