I’m two weeks away from running a half-marathon, helped pack up my brother and said goodbye as he set sail for Seattle, and am just over a month into living in a new apartment. Change has been everywhere: good, unsettling, stunning, and pushing me to grow, to forge ahead into the unknown (as we all do, hoping the decisions we’re making prove to be good ones, over time).
I’ve never been very good with change, or, I’m slow to adjust — I’m a nester who enjoys carving out a comfortable space. I enjoy some measure of routine, and knowing just where to reach for the flour, the sugar, the coffee grinder. So the weeks of packing and living out of boxes was stressful. When the kitchen sink clogged four days before we were due to move out of our old apartment, which meant washing dishes in the bathroom sink, we knew it was time to go.
After more than eight years in my former home, I’m glad to at least be practicing the art of change. I’m trying to be patient. To let the new home reveal its small charms to me: the lemon tree outside the craft room bursting with fruit in a patch of sun; the dining room nook perfect for our plethora of cookbooks and baking books. The fact that Nick and I can be in the kitchen at the same time, prepping a meal without stepping all over each other or orchestrating a perfect dance of where each pot and bowl and footstep and glass and elbow goes.
I’m also finding comfort in the familiar: a cranberry-chess pie, prepping a batch of pie dough to keep in the freezer for a rainy day, batter for an apple bundt cake. I’m trying not to look back; it’s easier said than done, but truth-be-told I’m not thinking of our former home that much. When I do, when I see the view out our old bedroom windows in my mind’s eye or think of the breeze billowing in the windows late on a summer night, it’s a genuine ache in my chest and a catch of the breath — saying goodbye to an old friend never stops being goodbye.
So I’m getting back on track, bit by bit. Dusting off some bookmaking tools and tinkering away with pamphlet stitches and prints. More writing about our recent move, and photos from months past, below.
It’s a hard thing dismantling the home that has kept you safe for the last eight years. Where you changed from a young woman to a woman; learned to live alone and love it; came to memorize and intuit every sound of the neighborhood and the building: the wind in the plum trees, the rain on the driveway, trucks making deliveries to the grocery store, and the neighbor’s dog waking you like clockwork almost every morning. Even the unwanted made it home. The paint that peeled, the tired linoleum floor, the hardwood planks that stained and showed wear so easily.
I slept here — thousands of nights my body was allowed to breathe far from harm’s way. Thousands of nights I was warm and well, and carving a future out of the stubbornness of days passing. The grief was palpable, the joy was everywhere, I was nourished and drunk and bone-tired. I watched the seasons change. I can name exactly which trees bear fruit and flower in the spring; I know the pale white blossoms outside the bedroom window come February or March as well as any thumbprint. And the sunsets: the deep blue-green silhouette of Mt. Tamalpais, the etching of pink and salmon and gray in the summertime never failed to cripple the heart with awe. I woke to diffused light pouring in windows to the west and bed down by the illumination of a church, the blinking red pilot signals on the hills, the trains and trucks and steeples of a city that I hold dear.
I want to bawl and beat the floor with fists and not let go. I want to pay proper gratitude to the walls and floorboards that sheltered me, so that when I go, and I’ve gone, I will pace from empty room to empty room — and it smells differently, already. Ancient dust untethered or walls lacking warmth. It sounds bigger. It echoes, it’s no longer mine. I get down on my knees. I recite small prayers of thanks in every room. I kiss the walls and the hardwood floor; put a palm to the front door, and say goodbye.