With less than a week until we move, we spent much of the weekend packing up all the nooks and crannies of our home. We’re excited to go–ready, in fact–especially since we don’t technically own our house anymore (which lends it’s own secret pleasures: “What’s that funny smell in here?” “I don’t know, it’s not our house.” etc., etc.). In turn, the rooms have taken on an echo, as though they are longing for their shelves to be refilled. Don’t worry, precious house–it’s coming soon enough.
What seems strange to me are the things you leave behind in a house, the things you absolutely cannot take with you even though they belong to you just as much as any book or chair. Like the stain on the garage entrance to the house. To the new owners, it will look like some Jackson Pollack splatter, but I know it’s from my thirtieth birthday dinner with my friends, buttery Moroccan juice from a leftover promptly consumed–that was one good meal, night, memory. There’s a raised spot on the kitchen floor where the cooler leaked. We didn’t notice because my sister and her kids were here, and we were frantically trying to get all the little ones clean before bed while I dealt with the plumber. Seems my sister took off the faucet in the tub with the water running full blast. During that episode, I also learned that you can in fact get hot water from a neighbor using a cooler, and that you shouldn’t leave a leaky cooler on your brand new laminate floor. It’s probably less noticeable now because there’s a fine haze of scratches from those silly ride-on fire trucks that the kids cannot give up, even though M’s knees are tucked to his chest when he rides them.
There are, of course, the intangibles. Any house is full of them, but especially one that has housed small children. I went into labor in the inexplicably large second bedroom, sequestered with a cough. It was K’s first stop after eight long days in the NICU, and where we introduced her to M, who regarded her with warranted suspicion. It was in these rooms that both kids learned to walk–K got led around gently while M got pushed back and forth in the still empty but carpeted sun room–and later that we played endless rounds of chase over the circuitous floor plan. Birthdays, holidays, play dates, and countless firsts all owe their backdrop to this house. But these memories come with us, packed in our minds. It’s the tangibles that I leave behind that make me ever-so-wistful, the marks we’ve left on this landscape that are the signs of good use and great love, marks that will be regarded as nothing more than curiosities by the new owners, if at all.
I try to see them, then, as my gifts, a legacy of happy living to bless the people who will come to add to them, overwrite them, and ignore them with the best of intentions. They are the echo of our lives, a reflection of the interconnection between us all, and a way to gift them with a little bit of our life abundant. And I look forward to creating new marks galore on the home we eagerly anticipate. There’s just the matter of finishing all that real packing first.