Well, this is it.
Today will be our last official day living in the place that's been our home since we moved to Southern Illinois three and a half years ago. I won't miss renting, and I won't miss our landlord, but I'll miss all the prettiness in our big yard and I'll miss the ducks. I won't miss Ev having to work so hard to keep the mower and weedwhacker and chainsaw running to keep it pretty, but I'll miss the bonfires; and, for at least this winter until we figure out how to convert the fireplace from a coal-burner, I'll miss the fireplace. I won't miss the nasty goddamn above-ground pool/mosquito brooder the landlord has stubbornly refused to remove, or his crappy trailer parked behind our house, or his junked truck parked in the yard, or the rutted gravel driveway he refuses to repair. In short, I won't miss paying to live in a place where we're at someone else's mercy.
I'm excited about our new house and looking forward to what comes next for us, but the whole ritual of taking apart a house, and handling and packing every item in it, is always bittersweet for me. I have several things that belonged to my parents and grandparents, so I think about them while I'm packing those things ... and then I handle all that Ev and I brought with us from other times and other relationships, and all that we've acquired together, and I think about our personal histories and our history together.
I get into a whole "circle of yife" space, which sort of inevitably leads to spending a portion of the packing time thinking about mortality, and what sums up a life, and what all this stuff I'm packing carefully against breakage is really worth in the grand sceme of things. Eventually, it will be a huge burden on our kids, to whom most of it will be yard sale fodder. I wonder what they'll hang onto? I hung onto Grandmother's crockery and a coffee cup from a Santa Fe Railroad dining car, a wooden medical kit with some syringes Grandaddy used to vaccinate his cattle, Mamaw's sugar bowl and Mother's sewing machine. My dad's ashes have been living on our bookshelf for five years now, trying to make their way back to South Padre Island. A combined 438 years of life and acquiring stuff, summed up in a box of photos and a dozen or so physical items. It gives one pause.
I woke up this morning thinking about the little blue dress my mom made for me when I was a flower girl at my cousin's wedding at the age of five. It was a beautiful little dress and my mom packed it away carefully in layers of tissue paper and saved it for nearly fifty years. She also saved many of our childhood toys ... special dolls and such ... intending for my sister and I to have them someday. When Mom got too ill to live on her own, my sister and I divided up the tasks. I took Mom to Arizona to stay with me until my sister could sell her house and bring the few remaining items to set her up in an assisted living apartment. She brought me some things from mom's house, but not the little blue dress or the baby dolls. I asked her about them and she said she threw them away. So, I woke up this morning wishing I'd been there to grab them off the discard pile and thinking that this is one of the reasons I care about all the stuff around here ... who knows what little dumb thing we haul around with us might be just the thing one of the kids treasures someday? I don't want them to wake up and wonder what ever happened to it, whatever it is.
But the overweaning thought that comes to me a hundred times a day during this process is how grateful I am for all the processes that came before it -- all the other moves, the weddings and divorces, the births and deaths, the falling in love and then crying over breakups, the things gone missing, the things kept, the people who influenced me and are no longer here, the people who are still here ... all of what brought me to this relationship, at this time in my life, on the verge of this move with Ev and the next chapter of our life together -- because this is perfect.