I have not disappeared from the face of the earth, but it seems that my words have indeed occasionally disappeared into the bowels of boxes and the rigors of moving. I would be lying if I did not admit to being occasionally overwhelmed and most certainly overextended. My brain is full, and if I have not completely shirked the responsibilities of life lived outside the confines of these two houses, I've come terribly close on occasion. I can confess that there have been desperate evenings when I stay up late packing in panicked desperation, thinking I will never finish, and also mornings when I awake with a start, remembering tasks left undone (despite lists) and all my good intentions. For the first time in a long time I can honestly say I cannot conceive of taking on anything else right now. I have no room, no energy, no ideas, no words
And yet, all this is not as bad as it sounds even though this move is both harder and easier than any of my previous moves. My current (old) house has sold and we close at the end of next week. For all practical purposes, this house is no longer my house, although I will occupy it for a few more days. The truth is that it hasn't been my house for a long time now, since I bought the new house, even though work is still progressing there, and I cannot yet move in. This space is simply a space I occupy for a short time, the passing of which is marked with each new box, each empty room. I had thought this process of packing up and letting go would be unsettling, as it was when we moved from New York to Tennessee, but the circumstances are different now. This time around, the emptier the house becomes the happier I feel, like I am letting a bird free to fly off on its own and leave me behind. It is no longer my house, no longer my yard, no longer mine. And as for me, I am no longer tied to this space, tied to this past; I too am free.
Another thing I hadn't imagined: As I pack, letting go of things becomes easy, as if I am shedding layers of dried-up skin that no longer serve any purpose. I am clearing out remnants of past lives, things that are no longer relavant to my life, things that are chains to the past, to something long gone, pulling me backward rather than allowing me to reach forward. The process has made me ponder the way we tend to define ourselves by the circumstances of our life, by the idea of what we are, as opposed to who we are. Who we are, our true inner selves, adapts to the what of our circumstances, but those circumstances don't define us unless we refuse to adapt, refuse to let go. Not that letting go is necessarily easy, it is not, and of course there are bound to be missteps along the way, but those missteps don't define us either unless we use them as chains.
I see this old house with new eyes and I marvel at its charms. My neighbors are right, it is a lovely house. Were I starting over today I would furnish and arrange it completely differently from the way it was, not only from the way it was when we moved in, but the way it was before I started packing. I see far more clearly how liminal in its own way this space was for me, and I see that, as lovely as I see that this house is, I am not and would not be, the buyer of this house. It is no longer my house.
A long time ago, when I was still a girl, my maternal grandfather passed on two bits of wisdom that have stuck with me, although at the time I perhaps dismissed them, not recognizing their true worth. One of those nuggets went something along the lines of "if you can't afford to lose it, you can't afford to own it". Being young and foolish, owning nothing but wanting everything, I thought that was just completely unrealistic. Now I know better, and see great wisdom in that advice. It is great advice from a financial standpoint, in terms of not living beyond one's means, but it is great on other levels as well. If you own it, or make it, or create it but can't let it go, it owns you and you are not free. If you can't afford to let it go, you can't afford it in the first place. For my grandfather, who literally worked his way up from nothing, I'm certain this wisdom was hard-earned, and I'm sure he struggled, even though he lived a fairly modest life, for he was just as prone to hoarding something as any of us. It is easy to learn to let go when one is surrounded by abundance, much harder when our things mark our rise -- out of physical poverty, out of emotional poverty, out of lack or emptiness of any sort.
Yes, I made a house that I feel is beautiful. I hadn't, in fact, realized that this idea of creating beauty was so elemental to my own emotional self; it is something I perhaps neglected for far too long. Even so, as much as the new owners may find my old house beautiful, they will undoubtedly change it again to make it fit their lives, just as I am already changing my new house. My neighbors sit on my back patio and ask me how I could leave, and my only answer is how can I not? It is, quite simply, time to go, time to let go. The house is fresh and ready for its new owners. I have enjoyed this space. I have enjoyed my beautiful flowers, my patio, the space created here, and yet I am ready for whatever comes next.