The first night the Chef and I spent in our new home, we held hands all night long. Nicked on nearly every finger from paper cuts or unexpected bumps against doorknobs and stove handles, our hands were exhausted. Our muscles were sore. Our feet wanted to leave the ground. We slept well that night, after three days of packing and one day of frantic, laughing shoving of stuff into a truck.
The Chefs sister wrote to us afterwards to advise: Anything you say during moving doesnt count. So shout and swear away! Perhaps we are disappointing her when I write that we never raised our voices, throughout the entire, arduous process. We never do. Frankly, we spent most of the time laughing. Does that make us freaks? Maybe. But mostly, we were excited. That kept us giggling. We were going to our new home.
Our friends helped. Oh, that we could all have such friends. Molly and Brandon showed up to lift and heave boxes, carry torchiere lamps in their hands, with big pillows tucked under their arms. Brandon even brought us gifts for the kitchen. Of course. That boy knows how to find a copper double boiler for three dollars, and a working Cuisinart food processor for two, amidst the detritus of dusty shelves at Goodwill. We blessed him for a moment, and then directed him to the truck. Later we would exult in our new possessions. In that moment, they just needed to be moved. And Peter, dear Peter, showed up early to run up and down the stairs (that was his volition), lifting as much as he could in every trip. He would have taken the dresser down to the truck himself, if the Chef hadnt insisted on helping. Along the way, the two of them became even closer friends. At the end of the day, the three of us sat outside for lunch, at a little diner near highway 99, eating burgers (mine without a bun) and drinking (beers for the boys, a chocolate-peanut butter shake for me), sweaty in the sunshine and smiling.
This was the easiest move of my life.
At one point, as the Chef and I were driving down the freeway to our new home, almost all our worldly possessions behind us, I looked over at him and started to laugh. When he asked why, I said, Now I know were getting married. I feel like part of a real, adult couple. Were driving a U-Haul together. He started laughing immediately. Its hilarious what makes you feel connected to someone.
Of course, the aftermath of moving is never as succinct as the move. Why do I always forget this? First, there was the old apartment to clean. Any vestigial sentimentality I had about that green-kitchen place dissipated on the second day, when I was down on my hands and knees, scrubbing the bathroom floor. Sweat rolled down my back, the stray hairs that wont go into the ponytail sat plastered to my face, and I still had hours of work left to go. I sat up for a moment, wiped my forehead with my forearm, and thought, Why did I think I was going to miss this place? Cleaning after the possessions are gone is the most onerous task of moving, but it might be the most helpful. Square by square, I wiped away any attachments I had to the place. Now, its just an empty space, no longer mine at all.
And besides, the new place? Its home. The first morning we woke up, the Chef and I looked at each other, and said, I love you. (We do, every morning. Those are always the first words that either one of us says.) And then we looked at the golden light, filtered through the green trees outside, shimmering through the windows of our bedroom. Look at this place! he squealed. This is our home!
We still cant believe it.
After all, I never imagined I would live in a home with French doors leading to little patios. Or a fireplace with a dark wood mantel. Or a backyard so enormous that we still havent explored all its corners. Or a beautiful brown garden shed that might become a chicken coop in a few months (yes, with real, live chickens!), and next to it an old bathtub buried partway in the ground, which will soon become my space for meditation outside.
This is more than a house we are renting. This is our home.
We have started nesting.
I can feel myself growing more domestic by the moment. Ive hunted down all environmentally friendly cleaning products to stow beneath the kitchen sink. Ive asked my mother if I could borrow her sewing machine for the indefinite future, because Id like to learn how to sew, for the first time in my life. (Ill never be as good as Soule Mama, or even her six-year-old son, but Id like to open myself to it now.) And this afternoon, I grew genuinely excited about buying clothespins, because we have a clothesline in the backyard, where we can hang our clothes out to dry in the sun.
Just a few feet away from the clothesline is a patch of grass destined to be our first garden. Our landlord is a master gardener, here in Seattle, and one of the kindest men I have ever met. He seems pleased to teach us how to bend down in the earth and work with the dirt. I cannot wait to plant the starts and see them shoot up from the ground.
My god, who have I become?
The woman I have always wanted to be.
We will be unpacking boxes for weeks to come. We have promised ourselves that we will have the house the way we want it in time for the wedding. (Oh, the wedding! Were getting married in nearly six weeks. Wow.) With a house like this, we have time for breath and pauses.
The first afternoon in our home, I took time out for lunch. The Chef was in his kitchen at the restaurant. I was headed back to the old place, for cleaning. But the outdoors beckoned, and I listened. I sat at the picnic table by myself and ate a frisee and wild-greens salad with local goat cheese, pecan pieces, and a champagne vinaigrette I had made on the spot when I found the blender in a box. I found a leftover water bottle from the move the day before. And I set out a bowl of organic strawberries, which we had packed from the old refrigerator. I called the Chef, to share it with him, and then I sat in silence. The birds were singing around my head, and I couldnt stop smiling.
And the sentence that sang inside my head: Im home. Im home. Im home.