If you could see my house on this particular day, you would see rooms that are, for the most part, clean. The tables gleam with polish. The floors shine. Most of the surfaces we use daily are free of clutter. It was a mad, mad dash today to clear the way for the (beloved) cleaning service who comes every two weeks and, in under two hours, leaves my house looking like this. Look around, though–it won’t last more than a day or two. The clutter will creep back in. I’m beginning to think it sneaks in during the few hours I sleep each night, like a snowfall that doesn’t look so bad but surprises everyone with its staggering accumulation.
You would also see something else: stacks of boxes around the perimeter of our rooms. Tucked in corners and along walls. A few in the Girl’s room. More in ours. In the hallway, all the framed art leans against the wall, each piece protected with bubble wrap. The walls are bare of everything except two mirrors, which I only left in place because I feared they would break if I took them down before the moving truck arrives.
I would move the rest of these boxes to the garage, which already services an impressive hoard of boxes, but I don’t want to risk the effects of the oppressive temperatures that will arrive here within a few months. I hate to think what the heat would do to the books or the artwork. Besides, I’ve already given over enough of our things to the investigative nature of the scorpions that show themselves in our garage from time to time. The rest will stay inside, thank you very much.
Everything we need to get by is available to us. Pots and pans. Small appliances. Computers. Clothes. Toys (way too many, still, even with many of them packed away). A few books.
But all the things that made our house pretty and warm and comfortable, the things that decorated it, are sealed inside boxes. If I close my eyes, I can remember how it looked before, back when I wasn’t so embarrassed to have people over. When a friend could walk into my house and identify my taste in decorating with little more than a glance.
We’ve been living like this for a while now. Ready to go. On the edge of our seats. Waiting, all of us.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I am living my interior life in the same way. Waiting, and ready to go. But waiting. As though everything pretty or interesting is packed away, all that decorates my soul and makes it undeniably my own. Yes, I have what I need around me. My family, all of us healthy. Good, true friends. A house that is safe and in a good school district. Beautiful surroundings and roads that call out to me to drive them. Stirring, interesting books. A favorite cafe for breakfast or lunch, where they know me and my favorite table.
It’s a lot, and I know it. I do.
But. I’m a little lost. I long for the feeling of being settled, of having a home that serves as the center point of our lives. Remember using a compass in school? You would push the point of it into the paper and determine the radius you wanted and then draw a confident, perfect circle. And then a bigger one. And bigger yet.
That’s what I want. That center point. That home from where our lives will spread out. I want that for my children. The bigger dream is to have a home they will think of as the place they grew up. The place from which they leave and where they will return, until they make their own independent and (please, yes) vast lives.
Just as I want to unpack the boxes of knick-knacks and things that hang on the walls, I need to feel like my soul is wide open, all spread out before me, where I can see what I have. What remains after almost four decades, and what is new. I need to get in there and brush away the dust, or lift the creaky handle of a trunk that’s rusted over by fear. Who knows what I will find? Will it help me shake this paralyzing lack of confidence that has followed me (led me?) my whole life? I need to find, if I can, the parts of me that are intuitive and strong. The ideas that tell me, “Yes, this suits me,” or “Don’t forgot this. This is the most important thing I need to know.” This is your center point.
It’s all in there. Maybe with labels, or maybe not. I suppose I’m just as likely to find an unfinished song lyric tossed in the same box as that song from Hee Haw (yeah, you know it), just as I’m bound to find a piece of sea glass in the same box as a hand mixer, somewhere in the garage.
I hope to find it all. It’s there, waiting. I’m on the edge of my seat.
***Edited to say: A few of you asked where we’re moving and why we’re waiting. (I should say that we were supposed to have moved a few months back, but our plans changed just before we were to have left. I should have explained this detail.) I can’t give a certain answer on the where (though we have a few ideas), but we’re waiting because the kids are in school and the beginning of summer is a logical time to move. I first wrote about this here. Since then, the where of our move has varied. It’s nice to have a few options, but also maddening. I might take a poll soon. If only I could convince Mr. H to let the results be binding.