9 AM. Light filled the silent room. Three children still asleep after a couple late nights filled with friends, swimming, and treats. Soft white curtains frame the three windows and the ties hang unevenly against the window that is without question set in the sunken wall. The bricks on the sealed fireplace stand in an understated charm. Resting below them, a small basket is filled with toys for the baby, but she’s happy to get into anything at all.
Six weeks left. This house has been a wonderful home with its sweeping porch and enormous second bathroom. The fenced, mostly private yard for the kids to play. Our rectangular haven in the middle of the city. The crepe myrtles that line the street haven’t bloomed yet. I desperately hope their radiant pink blossoms with bid us farewell before we go.
The neighborhood is as eclectic as ever, noisy, unusual, splashed with quirks and questionable activity. And yet, it’s been a safe and pleasant place to be. I’m sure Rose and her cats will continue to lurk the streets for many years. Certain residents will always grumble about the neighborhood falling into shambles because of the drug culture. Ambitious mavericks will come and stake their claim in the up and coming scene. The family next door will never leave and remain in their chaotic dysfunction. Who will enjoy the abundant harvest of Warren's tomato garden? That was a lovely surprise. And will the debate ever be settled over whose fence is really falling to pieces between this house and Ophelia’s?
The church bells ring at eleven on Sunday mornings, beckoning all who will come. In the winter, when the trees are bare, the steeple stands tall in the tree line. I think my husband will always suggest we should have attended that old church down the street. We didn’t. When we moved to North Carolina, we debated between two cities and the other day as we drove home from seeing friends, he questioned what would it be like if we had moved there instead. We didn’t, but how can you know such a thing? It’s not with regret, but pondering as we prepare to march bravely onward to the next chapter. All the things that didn’t happen. All the decisions that we did or didn’t do. You can’t change them. There’s no ability to know how these years would have unfolded when loaded with if scenarios.
So, what has it been? Important. Every season is. Kierkegaard said, Life is lived forward, but understood backward. Special. For the time and memories made. Crucial in the pursuit of God and dreams. Crucial in the formation of who we strive to be. And finally, unexpected, because life always is.
I’m particularly fond of understanding meaning. With each move and each new state, I get lost in the wild madness of its significance. What did we learn? What did we lose? What did we gain? What did we become? How do we go forward?
There are things to miss about everywhere. I miss gathering around Ma Bell’s kitchen in Tennessee. I miss California sunsets and its coast line and all the “carnicerias,” because I love to say the word “carniceria.” I miss the great lakes and the ten thousand lakes of Minnesota. The culture of Minneapolis. Those particularly divine pulled pork tacos at the farmer’s market. The wild winds on Lake Superior’s rocky shore. And now adding to the list, North Carolina’s finest. The coast, the mountain vistas, the barbeque, the beer, and most of all the handful of people who will be the hardest to leave.
I don’t pretend to know everything and I admit it is not always easy to be the ones who have not settled in and found home. You don’t hear the wild beckoning that roars inside us, the whispers that call us to follow this winding trail for reasons we don’t always see. And that’s just fine. It’s a complex and mysterious world.
My six year old tells a lot of stories. I started to write one of them down, and this is how it went.
Chapter One- The Beginning.
It starts with a little ending.
This is a story about a clown dinosaur who meets a cow with horns. He can protect himself from predators.
He told me that it was going to have lots of chapters.
And that’s kind of genius and true.