Thursday, August 9, 2018

saying goodbye

For as long as I can remember, I've had the uncanny ability to imbue heavy significance to the most mundane things. I distinctly remember a shiny, purple plastic lobster necklace from Red Lobster that looked like it came straight from Mardi Gras hanging on my dresser for years. It had its place of honor because it represented and was received when we all went out to dinner for the first time after my dad was in a rather severe car accident. I commemorated that occasion, that feeling, my dad's continued improvement and health, by hanging onto that absurd plastic lobster.

Twenty years and many interventions later, I think I've gotten a little bit better at learning to let the things go while still keeping the memory and the meaning intact. But I still am as sappy as sap itself, and often find things sticking to my skin as I go through life. Thus, I find it rather painful to remove them and say goodbye.

When we moved to Virginia for law school, both Dusty and I made an early-on decision to treasure our time there. Sure, we knew it was temporary - but we weren't going to live that way. We were going to live with permanence. Plant our feet and produce the golden sap of loving investment and significant time. At one point, I remember a friend saying "you guys make everything fun." At the time it was a half joke, because whatever it was they were talking about was something really silly (akin to a plastic lobster) that we were holding close to our hearts. But I have thought about that comment often. If nothing else, our time in Virginia taught me that I really do want that to be true. I want to enjoy life. All aspects of it.

There was a lot of uncertainty when we moved to Virginia. Our past selves never could've imagined that our time there would be so momentous to us - that someday we'd even be moved to reflect those years in the name of our daughter, Virginia Leigh. We can easily look back now and see all of the goodness. We were so intentional with our time and our friendships. Life is messy and inconsistent, but our future selves have a much keener sense of what ends up being meaningful to us in each season of life. Even the hard parts. With the benefit of perspective and the cleansing of time, we're able to look back and see what was special, what was worth it, what was beautiful.

I endeavor to live my life as if my future self has written me a letter about today. She wrote me a letter 3 years ago when we bought this intimidating fixer upper and said,

"Don't worry. You will fix this place up. You will bring your first child home here, and drink 78 gingerbread lattes in the first few months of his life. Gingerbread will always remind you of William. 
You will love the color of your walls. You will fill those walls with music. You will open the doors countless times to people you love, and celebrate daily, big and small. You will bring your second child home here, the October baby your heart longed for, and she will be beautiful, and you will cry many tears of gratitude. Don't worry, because however fast the years may go by, you will be safe here and this place will be your home."

My sappy self is currently stuck to my favorite spot on this couch, crying over the many sunrises I have spent with my sleepless babies in this living room. Crying over the blanket draped over the piano in the next room, which has been Will's cave for the last few months, and which will be impossible for me to tear down. We'll have to tell the potential buyers that the cave comes with the property.

Thank goodness I've already learned those lessons about treasuring people and not stuff, right? Ha! 
The truth is, we had no idea how significant this house would be to us. We became parents here. We could have never imagined the joy of that transition, the all-encompassing love that our hearts now carry. But we have cherished our time in this house, and we tried to do so from the very beginning. Even the hardest of the hard work, the most tiring of the tired days. Every moment. The best part of all of this is that we get to bring the crazy kids with us. Home is now the 4 of us - wherever we go. And while it is painful to leave, it's also joyous to know that we truly lived here. Lived with permanence, the only way that time-driven beings can, while still being unable to escape the ticking clock. I think I'm kind of in this sweet middle spot of being way more sentimental than your average Josephine, but not sentimental enough to be paralyzed by change. I know that change is inevitable and it also brings the most incredible growth. I've written about moving before, and how wonderful and awful it is. Change is what wild dreams require.

I already have that metaphoric letter from my future self in my pocket, but I won't open it quite yet. I have to say goodbye first. And then, and only then, will I be able to open it - to face the future with confidence and joy. But I have a feeling we'll be back to making everything fun in no time.

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