Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Scotland and Tennessee and New Jersey and Scotland and now New York. Six moves in three years. I’m becoming Where’s Waldo girl--- no one remembers where I am these days. Being me is only slightly less confusing. The next month we'll take 11 flights. It's exhausting mushing it all into my brain right now.
It’s even more exhausting processing it all. As we approach leaving, I want to hold onto poignant instants of the past in this place, to suck the wisdom out of them like watermelon on a hot day. Holding diplomas. Holding hands for the first time. Him picking me up in our first home and twirling me. But books are stacked precariously in our office waiting to be shipped off, and I should be searching, yet again, for another slot for my resume.
Oh time, you are once again rushing by me. And I don’t have enough of you to gather all the wisdom from the past six moves to cushion this one. Don’t overanalyze. Don’t miss before you leave. Give it two months, and the ache will be gone.
So I’ll hold onto what I have, the poetic instinct to think on one past instant, transformed in the light of where I am today. A year ago was my last day working at the Ranch.
Today I’m wearing red hot tamale nail polish from one of my girls, and remembering her mom’s van rolling over gravel as she pulled away on that day, and she leaned out the window waving. And her car disappeared around one of the hundreds of Tennessee curves.
It was hard to say goodbye then, so I evaded it. I cried a little. I cried more once I was in New Jersey. The ache dulled. When we visited in February, and I saw them again, I realized there never has to be this final goodbye that I build up in my to-do mindset. The love for that place does not end when you move someplace else. Saying goodbye to the Ranch a year ago is a beautiful instant today and I am holding it up to the light again to see if I can find flecks I'd forgotten.
I don't want to sound all there are never any true goodbyes, because it was still a goodbye to that part of life, and some days I want to see the girls again so badly.
What I knew I'd miss then, I still miss: the low fog over the Smokies, the sound of kids singing each morning, sheep noises and tall grass, laughing at dinner, hot breakfasts, sleepy hugs in the morning and dogs trailing behind on the dusty gravel paths. Part of me thinks of them each day, but mostly, I am here. Yet who I am here has been changed by them.
A bird is twirling out notes like a ribbon wand circling through our sunny Scottish garden dotted with mini daisies and heavy peonies. I still walk around noticing things I will miss, and there is still far too much of life to process through my little filter. So we walk on, through the birdsong and always-moving Scottish air as we did through the hot summer days in the treehouse or on the lake in canoes.
In a month, there will be a goodbye that will seem rather final. For the next two months, I might cry like I have for the past three summers. But then we will be in our new home together, finding new instants that in a dozen years will be memories like the ones I have today, of a sun-saturated porch on a big house in the mountains, writing love letters to a man in Scotland to the drone of loud frogs.
I wrote a poem when I first moved to Scotland, before I learned much. It's about this transition I am always in, not just when I am moving, about how the present sits on the moving past. I'll leave it for you as I fold shirts, and hope for settling again.
Gulls by hundreds drift
on the sea’s surface.
The weight of each one
presses a plot of water
which will soon lift another.
These pockets of water
are interstices in a net
of hidden cords;
the gulls, white knots
holding it together.
by something unseen,
it ascends in one lift
before it floats down,
unruffles itself, and tries,
once again, to settle.
Have a lovely weekend! (photos from Tennessee, courtesy of my husband)