I am packing –I have ten boxes so far. I am trying not to resent the people who bought our house for one dollar and 46 cents; they did, after all, rescue me from a real-estate market summer with three kids and their sandy feet, their camp bags dripping with lakewater/sweat/bug spray, and their fairy camp glitter crafts. I was ever-so-slightly anxious about that.
Every move we make in this life is either toward or away; one motivation is usually stronger than the other. If the choice is between Camp and Somewhere Else, the desire to move toward camp will always win out over the desire to move away from Somewhere Else, even if Somewhere Else is the Valley of Ashes or the DMV. If the choice is between a beet and Something Else, the desire to move away from the beet is always stronger than the desire to move toward Something Else, even if the Something Else is GramBea’s rice pudding with sliced bananas and fresh whipped cream. There’s a governing force –toward or away.
I began crying a little bit when I was packing the other night. I wasn’t surprised at this … I’m never particularly surprised to catch myself crying and I happened to be half-watching the Glee finale at the time (if you ask me, it wasn’t really what it could have been, but still). Even if I weren’t the emotional creature I am, I would have expected a certain emotional release when I finally started packing to leave this house; any impetus for motion from here will always be Away. I want to move away from the washing machine flood that wrecked most of our basement and first floor about a year after we moved here; I want to move away from the room I was sitting in when the call came about Kyle; I want to move away from the spot in the kitchen where I will forever see the elaborate poster I made to keep track of all of Caroline’s seizure medications.
Every move we make in this life is either toward or away; one motivation is usually stronger than the other.
In my more rational moments, I know not to blame this house for all of that unhappiness, but let’s just say it –I don’t have that many rational moments. I’m not demanding of myself any fairness to this house just yet. I’m not insisting that I celebrate right now the good stuff that has happened here — the loud, joyous, giggly breakfasts with my Julie and her family after church; the out-of-the-blue phone calls from people whose voices I hadn’t heard in 20 years; the happy hours in the kitchen or the garden; the snowy Saturday mornings on the couch with Brian and the Drewlets. I’ll remember those later and be grateful for them later. Right now I only want to be away.
Ideally, the big moves in our lives are more Toward than Away, but I don’t have a Toward yet; we’re still looking for a new house. It’s unsettling. While I was packing for the move to our first house, I used to picture myself reading on the little screened porch, wearing a tank top and soft, stretchy pants. I’d picture myself pouring fresh orange juice from a glass pitcher and nibbling on a scone or some scrambled eggs. I pictured plants and flowers and candles and pillows and books and a knit blanket or two for when it got chilly. I was dreading leaving Minneapolis and going to Cleveland for Brian’s residency, but I could imagine a whole, content, interesting self on that porch –I was moving toward that more than I was moving away from Minneapolis.
I do not yet have a porch to move toward as I pack to move away from this house, but I have the tank top and the soft, stretchy pants …I have the glass pitcher and a truly excellent currant scone recipe. I have the plants and candles and pillows and books and I have a blanket I knit myself from old sweaters and leftover yarn. I moved away from her for a while, but I have a whole, content, interesting self to look forward to.
And there is me, a woman I have rushed towards and turned away from and dragged towards and run away from and stepped carefully towards and danced recklessly away from.
She’s doing more writing than reading these days, this whole, content, interesting self I’m moving toward, and she isn’t alone in the scene anymore –wherever she’s sitting, whatever she’s doing, her husband is done with the grueling residency now and is bringing her a mocha (iced or hot, depending on the season). He made it for her out of coffee beans he roasted himself in a popcorn popper and bittersweet chocolate sauce she keeps in the fridge. Her son is telling her about his latest Lego creation or reading her some of his original poetry and her little daughters are singing Michael Franti’s “Say Hey (I Love You),” while they color. The rooms are fuzzy but there is light and warmth and music and good food. There is love and forgiveness and recovery. There are deep friendships for everyone, comfort, understanding, beauty.
And there is me, a woman I have rushed towards and turned away from and dragged towards and run away from and stepped carefully towards and danced recklessly away from –each turn with equal force, motivated by the same question: if I have a choice between my life and Something Else, will I always choose mine, even with its losses and disappointments, even with its occasional loneliness? My nature is to ask this question over and over again even though the answer is always Yes. Every move is toward that Yes.