In anticipation of my upcoming move into a new home with James, I have been packing up my belongings. On a cold afternoon recently, my friend Annie came over to help me crate my earthly possessions. As we wrapped my mother’s delicate china in newspaper and stacked books in boxes, Annie commented on how different this move was from the one that brought me to this little house. I paused, looked around, and felt the past rush up to meet me….
In March 2009, I moved out of the house that Bryce and I had shared with our daughters and into a small townhouse a few blocks away. I had discovered the little house a couple of weeks after deciding to end my marriage, and purchased it with the generous help of my mother. The house closing was a blur — I sincerely don’t remember any of it, only my own numbness. Moving day was a nightmare, truly. At the end of that long day, I slumped into a heap on my new living room floor and cried with grief and relief.
In the days since, I have painted nearly every wall in the house, imbuing it with an energy and personality that more closely matches the life I’ve created here with my daughters. I have acquired a few pieces of furniture, most notably a large orange sofa for the living room for which I had to save for many months. I have painstakingly tended the xeriscaped back garden and the lush, flowering front courtyard. I have hung photos and art, added rugs and curtains, and turned what was a pretty little house into a warm and loving home.
My daughters have come to prefer our little home to their dad’s much larger and more modern house, and my friends have all told me how comfortable they are here and how well my home reflects me. These validations are gratifying, but more important has been the reality that, through the ups and downs of my separation, divorce, and subsequent dating experiences, through the parenting challenges that naturally appear, through the professional pressures and demands I endured, I have always been glad to come home to my little house. It has always felt good to me. Safe. Comforting. Serene. I shed more tears in this house than I could ever possibly count, and I railed at life’s unfairness all too frequently, but she has always answered back with quiet, constant reassurance. She has granted me solace and shelter and peace from the storms raging inside and outside of me.
My sweet little house is far too small to accommodate me, James, our six children, and three dogs. And so we have purchased a much-larger house in a neighboring town in which to create a home for our blended family. As for my little house, we will keep her and rent her out until such time as my mother decides to move closer to us, at which time, she’ll be folded into the bosom of the house that held me safe while I healed.
I remember the day before my closing, when I walked through the house with my realtor — an acquaintance who’d become a friend. I made an off-hand comment about growing old here, and he quickly grew serious. “No,” he said. “This is only a stopping over place for you. You won’t be here forever. You’ll have another new beginning someday.” I was very doubtful, and have never lived my life in this house as if it were anything but permanent. And yet, once again, I was mistaken. It was not my forever house. Another new beginning is indeed upon me.
Annie and others have asked me if I will be sad to leave my house, but I am honestly not. This leap with James — this wonderful, magical opportunity to create a home with a man I love more than I have known possible — this is precisely what my time in this house has been preparing me for. All those sad and difficult times during which my little house protected me or her garden soothed me… it was all in preparation to launch me into the next chapter of my life. I see that very clearly now. I came here broken and fragile. I will leave stronger and more fully myself. This next move is a joyful one, buoyed by hope and love, and the promise of endless possibility. How different from the move that brought me first in this front door….
The last time Annie packed my mother’s china four years ago, she worked wordlessly in Bryce’s living room, while I shuttled boxes out of the house and into the waiting moving van and the tension around us thickened to the point of near suffocation. This time, we packed the china together, the tunes from a favorite playlist filling the room as we chatted and laughed about our men and our children and how far we have each come since those dark days and how rich our futures look. There was no sadness, no regret, no nostalgia. Just friendship and gratitude and hope.
So, I shall move on with thankfulness in my heart for my time here. The point, after all, was never to stay, but to know when to go.