Physically, it's been daunting. The amount of things that have gone from house to basement or attic or separate rentals or storage units has been exhausting. At my age my knees are hurting, my feet are too, and at night, my hip bones ache. It has all been done in the sweltering heat of an unusually hot southern summer.
Logistically, it has been the challenge of shifting things from here to there, truckloads, carloads, and still — there is always more. I call it the fishes and the loaves. You think you're done but you open another door, another closet, another hidden recess, and find there are still items to deal with, to decide, to divest.
Emotionally, it is what you might imagine. An endless confrontation of the memories of every moment you have lived. I found an album where I had placed every engagement and wedding card we received. There was a box with each and every gift card and greeting card from the time I was pregnant through their second birthday. I had no idea that there were specific cards made that said — "Congratulations! You're Expecting Twins!" I had about twelve each of the three designs that were made. I had no memory of such cards.
The cards represented all the well wishes, all the outpouring of love — from those we knew and those we didn't. Gifts from people's mothers I'd never met. Hand-knit teeny-tiny white baby booties from Jean-Louis' mom in Paris. Matching hooded sweaters trimmed in blue and pink with pom-pom ties from Susan's co-worker's mom in Nebraska or North Dakota. Ceramic plates with cherubic babies hand-painted by Aunt Doris on my father's side, with their names and weights and birthdates. Loving expressions of joy at our great gift of healthy boy-girl twins.
Box after box after bin after bag of photos capturing the moments of our 36 years together — the vacations, the birthdays, the holidays, the milestones — all smiling and hugging and picturing happiness.
What do you do with the thousands of images that you've stockpiled before things were digital? The wedding photos, the engagement, bridal and baby showers? What do you keep? I, who always had walls and stairwells hung with framed photographs of family. I don't want them staring me in the face. Looking at me with eyes that question the close of that life lived.
Others are selling off the art, pottery, jewelry, household goods and knickknacks of my past. I've kept quite a bit but moving into a house that's one-third the space forces you to be selective and I have been. Let us hope that my former treasures find places in someone else's home and that they will bring pleasure to others as they once did to me.
I feel relief that it's almost at the end of a long passage. The six-month road of dismantling what once was. I feel a sense of lightness and ease at no longer being weighed down by so much. And even better, I love my new home.
It is a tremendous gift to love where one lives — to feel a sense of comfort and real happiness — to walk in the door and smile at the things you see. I feel that here. I settled in very quickly, probably because I've felt "homeless" for the past twenty months. My nest is made and I am cocooning at the moment. When I open my eyes in the morning I see a half wall filled floor-to-ceiling with sixteen pieces of art that I adore. Lauren's framed wedding invitation with its silvery tree. The blue castle from college-friend Peggy. The framed Folon poster all signed on the back from my Random House buddies celebrating my first real apartment in Manhattan. The lovers kissing "In a Sentimental Mood" by Havlicek from Shirley Sender. The tiny painted grove of trees by Norman Kaplanoff bought in the basement of a Ukrainian church on the lower East side for 50¢ (unframed).
and the lovely print of swimming goldfish that I bought on the street outside the Museum of Modern Art from a Chinese artist named Zhyoo (and I have never been able to track down).
The gorgeous watercolor of the Colorado mountains painted by Lynnie's sister Joannie Shapiro and...