I remember when blogging was mainly about our personal lives, our comings-and-goings, our thoughts or mundane adventures. Funny, isn’t it? There weren’t book deals to be had yet – publishing wasn’t paying attention to blogging yet, and there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter to mark “going viral,” and soapbox rants or manifestos happened once in a blue moon instead of every Tuesday.
I thought of that this morning when I sat down at the computer to blog about the past week or two because I don’t have any manifestos or soapbox rants right now, I don’t have any thing worth “sharing” with your Facebook friends or pinning on Pinterest, it’s a little story of our family’s days the past while here. It’s old-fashioned blogging this morning, just simple stories and even a bit of memory keeping.
We moved this week. We’ve been circling around the idea of moving for months and just when we had abandoned the idea altogether, the stars aligned – and quickly. It isn’t exactly a great time to move – new baby, new book, summertime and all that. But if we waited for the perfect time for most things in life, we wouldn’t do much of anything, would we? We’ve spent the last month packing up our now-former townhouse steadily.
Brian and I have moved a-plenty in our lives, for a time there we even moved once a year or two repeatedly. Our biggest move was from Texas to Vancouver ten years ago this very week. But now I’d say that even if the distance is not comparable – we just moved up the hill within our own neighbourhood, for heaven’s sake – the sheer work and logistics of an international move for two young marrieds without children rival an in-neighbourhood move with four tinies.
Moving day finally came. I feel like when you arrive at moving day it should be “ta-da! finished!” but instead, it’s simply the mid-way point because now you have to unpack all those boxes and re-establish a home.
Families who move frequently because of work or the military or ministry, I will pray for you and love you forever. Bless.
I had my hair tied up in a headwrap and a top-knot to disguise how grubby I had become. It was all hands on deck. We hit that last few minutes of throwing things madly into boxes marked “misc.” and hoped for the best. (My sister laughed pretty hard as she was unpacking those boxes – let’s see, a few paperback books, electronics, a razor, box of Kleenex, baby toys, two diapers, a magazine, a power cord, bag of tortilla chips, a pillow, what else can we cram in here?)
On that last night, we gathered in the girls’ room to pray together as a family. We wanted to mark the end of that era of our life and make some room for the inevitable sadness even in the midst of the joy. We prayed together, expressing our gratitude for this home and blessing it for the new occupants. We prayed for the move and for our new home, too. The next morning, after the movers had left with our stuff, I wandered around the empty house, remembering how we had worked so hard to make it a home six years ago. Evelynn was born in the living room there. Maggie came home there. Joseph was just one years old when we moved in, Anne was three. I wrote my first two books there, scribbling at the kitchen table and typing on the floor of the main floor bathroom with one eye on a tiny in the tub. We learned what it meant to have roots there. The tinies ran around the little neighbourhood of townhomes with a gang of good kids. And I don’t mind telling you, we had the best neighbours, the absolute best.
We have spent the last two days unpacking now. Brian sprained his ankle in the first thirty minutes of our unloading which wasn’t great timing but because he is completely unable to sit down while other people are working, he kept unloading and unpacking for another fourteen hours after that.
Our people showed up big time for us – my mother took over Maggie Love for the day texting me when she needed to nurse and then I would hustle over to feed her and then head back to the house. My dad took Evelynn out to a work picnic for the day. Anne went to her best friend’s house for the day and Joe went to his buddy’s house to dig in the dirt with great joy. Having them out while the men were unloading the truck was much easier. Everyone came home, my parents helped us to set up the beds quickly, and then we went to bed that night, surrounded by boxes and utterly overwhelmed. Our littlest ones cried bitterly with exhaustion and newness at bedtime and I felt like howling right along with them.
We’re the kind of unpackers who would rather work from awake-to-asleep without rest until the house is completely unpacked. Brian and I are well-matched in this mantra – we don’t quit until it’s done.
I don’t think my feet have ever hurt quite this much though. In the morning, I got to work on the kitchen and unpacked steadily, stopping only to nurse Maggie. Anne unpacked and set up her entire room beautifully, often coming by to airily remark that if I was tired of looking at all these boxes, I could always come to her room and have a rest. My sister came over to lend a hand for the afternoon and then we really started to make progress – kitchen, washrooms, our bedroom, tinies bedrooms, living room, laundry room…. Friends stopped by with flowers or food or an encouraging word. Our now-former neighbour stopped by with a hot meal including fresh veggies, brownies, and a bottle of red, may it be counted unto her as righteousness. After three days of catch-as-you-can meals and fast food, it tasted like heaven. Brian and I took that first bite and groaned out loud – real hot food!
So here we are on Sunday morning. Everyone is sleeping except for me and Maggie and Anne, my two bookend girls are alike in more than looks, early risers both of them. Coffee is brewed. We made scones together. Our things are mostly unpacked, all that remains is the guest room and a bit of the dining room stuff and some of the garage. It won’t take long and then we’ll start hanging pictures. The sun is coming through the windows and dust is swirling like fairies in the light. When everyone wakes up, we’ll scramble for showers and quickly get ready for church. I have final read-through for last-minute typos before my book goes to press on Tuesday. An article is due, Brian returns to work, tinies will make a mess of Legos and dress-up clothes in their playroom, the little jumperoo-baby-thing is perched on the kitchen floor, we’ll have leftovers tonight. Ordinary life is beginning again.
In an old L.M. Montgomery book called Jane of Lantern Hill (a dear favourite of mine from childhood but one of her lesser known works), Jane and her father are house-hunting together on Prince Edward Island. They describe all the things they want in a house and then they agree that the most important thing is “magic.” And by that, they meant that you want to feel like the house is yours before you even buy it. I felt that way about this house. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I love the line-items of the house like a quiet settled neighbourhood and how everyone gets their own room (Anne is especially chuffed about this) and the backyard and the big deck with a view of the mountains and especially the double-fridge-freezer-combo thing (that fridge is THING OF BEAUTY THO). But the best part is the magic. It feels like home already, it felt like home right from the start. I can see it in the tinies as they are quite at peace already here. I believe in home-making.
My friend Jen said we were moving into our main memory home, the home our tinies will likely grow up in for their childhood, the home from which they will set out in the world. This will be the home for the middle part of my life, maybe longer, God willing and the creek don’t rise.
I like that idea, a memory-making home. I can picture Christmas supper and birthdays, friends around the real wood fireplace, new books written here, tinies on trampolines, a garden at long last for my patient husband, late nights and early mornings and creating comfort as ministry. These are the days we’ll have to remember someday, right?