I see it from the street as I park … the brass headboard poking above the windowsills of my screened in porch, waiting to be carried up and attached to a bed, or was that waiting to be sold on eBay, or waiting to be sold to a dealer or sent to my daughter’s apartment or just to get on the moving truck?
That’s the point! I told my friend as I counted out a twenty and some singles at the resale shop. I can do so many things with this—it’s such a great bargain that even if I don’t keep it (the price so good and my personal finances so bad) I come out ahead as he scoffed and said, “I thought you were moving? Why get that? You need to let stuff go.”
The options enticed me in the end, the ability to decide without really deciding. I specialize in that …
Since my divorce, I have been telling people—myself included—that I was going to sell the house and move someplace else—warmer, with lower taxes, lower cost of living, sunnier.
Just as often, they have been telling me to move—when the roof leaks unto that same porch, when the drafts come in, when the weeds choke the roses I love but have no time for, whenever I mention how broke I am.
The kids are in college and grad school. The parents are long gone. My job is flexible enough that I can do it anyway. I have no significant other holding me here.
You are so lucky, trills my high school friend, with a thirty-year marriage and a steady 9–5 job in Kansas City.
Where will you go? Options I have many. Decisions I have none.
My kids played a game at winter break—they each came up with a list of ten states I should consider moving to, the idea being I would narrow it down to five and travel to each this year.
It’s a fun game. Seeing how others see you, what they think you want.
Especially considering they each put down Georgia. Georgia? And then I realized once for one week we camped off the Georgia coast—the three of us and had a great time. That’s all they know of Georgia—a lovely windswept island with wild horses and no electricity.
That’s not enough to know to move there, but what do I need to know?
I compile a list of five states.
But within them, the options are vast: North Carolina I adore, but the mountains? The shore? What can I afford when I don’t have a steady paycheck to budget from?
Five states and five months later I have visited: none.
I did however incorporate a good deal of house hunting on an impromptu trip to Ireland.
The next week, we are talking about the Olympics coming to Chicago. I announce I don’t care because I won’t be here.
“Really?” my sister says, shocked. “You’re moving?”
And doing a sudden recovery—“Are you moving to France? That would be cool coz then I could visit you there.”
The list expands from states to nations, like a history lesson gone awry.
Meanwhile, I sort. I collect road maps. I sort some more.
Two pairs of shoes—both black, both flats, both slip ons sit in my closet.
As action precedes thought, my feet slide into one pair and I think, These aren’t going might as well use them up. Somewhere subterranean I have begun to inventory my stuff:
That ecru sweater—put it on, wear it out. Two books I want to read and savor, but one will be passed on when done. I open that one.
A friend notices when I change sheets—no mattress pad?
No, why bother? These aren’t going with me.
It’s a great budget restraint, too.
I ask not just: Do I want this? But: Do I want this enough to pay to ship it?
This living in limbo is a great way to avoid decisions of all kinds. While I wait to figure out my next move, I release my needs and attachments here:
New furniture, new dishes, new clothes (for what climate would I buy?). New listings, a better job, even new friends, especially romantic ones. I shelve all those options.
It’s a great way to live betwixt and between.
As does this bed: it remains on the porch, an odd acquisition for someone in the process of letting go, moving on.
A bed after all is the well bedrock of stability, the ultimate catch me if I fall security in home furnishings, the piece that defines your ultimate personal space even if, as growing up, you too shared a room a closet and toys and germs with numerous siblings. The bed was yours alone, where you could hide teeth under the pillow and books under the covers and yourself when the bogyman or test day came.
Peeking out my window at the leaking front porch, I see it. I should at least move it out of the rain, I think.
And then, I see it clearly.
’Til now, the focus has been on the need to let go, the need to move on … each time it rains and the roof leaks which is each time it rains, each time I climb the crumbling back stairs and spot concrete confetti in the flower beds.
’Til now it was no – you can’t go with me—no—you don’t belong on the truck—no I can’t see you in my new life
But until now, I couldn’t see me in it either …
But the bed, ahhh, I can see the bed bold and brassy sitting not in my house where I live … but I see it in some whitewashed room, swaths of afternoon sun coming in a tall window, highlighting my sister’s handcrafted quilt. I can see bringing my college-aged kids into this room to rest after their flights. I can see ushering my brother and his wife to place their suitcases on the chair that I don’t own but suddenly see as mine, there right next to that sunny window. The really tall one.
Now if I could only walk over to that window and look out, and learn where “there” is.