And here we are.

IT’S BEEN 13 weeks or so since Tim and I first had a casual conversation about listing our Bickley’s Pond home for sale, and today, as I write this, I find myself standing at my desk in a new (to us) downtown house in my new studio space–a pretty pink bedroom we’ve converted to a quiet creative spot where I can write and paint and think and dream. To my left there is a tall window that offers a nice view even if it is not of nesting bluebirds and paddling mallards. For the new place is a 1966 ranch that sits high in the back/low in the front in a hilly uptown neighborhood. My studio is positioned on the house’s front side, which means when I look out what I see is our small but perfect front yard, the raised street beyond (with its regular joggers, dog-walkers and the like), and the two homes across the way that sit close but high up–a good bit higher than ours, geographically speaking, and which actually makes for an effect I find most pleasing. The cumulation of these things: our position on this street, our place in this old neighborhood, this city that I find to be just big enough–these things in collection create warmth and comfort, something I’m just noticing now. Yes, warmth, that’s it, and comfort, sweet comfort, a kind that fits just right.

And what makes it so?

Two things come to mind as I stand here, for the first time considering it.

  1. My upbringing in a small town, with streets just like this.
  2. The sense that this neighborhood has history, and stories, and permanence.
the street where I now live

WE BUILT THE HOUSE at Bickley’s Pond in 2006/2007 and moved in just in time for the economic crash. (The timing was not great, to say the least.) But what a thrill it was to choose the lot, design the floor plan, select every finish and finial. And then to watch the dream come to fruition one brick at a time, every passing milestone carrying with it the promise of the beautiful life a house built JUST FOR US would deliver.

It did not disappoint. We woke up most every morning thinking–and often saying to each other–Can you believe we get to live here? Can you believe how lucky we are. But as it inevitably would, and as it did, time moved on. Our kids grew up, and we came to the undeniable conclusion we just didn’t need the big house with the big yard with the care-taking that was required anymore. We also came to believe a “shake it up” change in our lifestyle would be a healthy thing for us both as we ventured into our 60s. And so we turned our gazes (Tim more quickly and easily than I, I must say) from the suburbs to the city, from a home-centered existence to one more focused on go-and-do activities and experiences.

IT WAS RATHER MIRACULOUS how we (AKA our realtor) found this downtown home so quickly. Because once we made the decision to sell, our house was sold in no time. We dove head-first into clearing, boxing, packing. Every fear I had about the process proved true–I was overwhelmed and anxious and overcome with emotion as day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute I excavated my life. I’m certain it did not help that I was facing my 60th birthday, but whether or not that carried inordinate weight, it was a daunting task to stare down every what was in my 60 years and then to decide is this worth carrying forward.

Just look who came to greet us.

But that is not actually the point I am meaning to make. What I’m meaning to tell you is that in this new place, this new home, the world has filled in around us in rich and beautiful ways I did not expect. The universe has taken every hole and fear and worry and one-upped it; in fact, in spite of my deep sadness over leaving Bickley’s Pond and the sweet, precious neighbor-friends who, to us, mean the world–this move has proven not only right but important.

not so long ago

There is the sense of history here, as I mentioned. It’s something I find palpable. Most homes in the area were built in the early 1900s or else in the boom just after World War II. In every way it feels like a neighborhood. We have discovered there are countless friends and acquaintances who live on the winding, tree-lined streets nearby; nearly every day I get another call, email, text or flower delivery (!) from someone I know sharing his or her address, welcoming us to downtown, giving us a tip about a great restaurant or a nice walk route or a pro move when it comes to the perfect grocery shopping time. And there is this, which we hear over and over.

Did you know I grew up on this street.

My grandparents lived over there.

We’ve been here 30 years.

They are roots that feel good to me, a small town girl who spent her youth in a home also built in 1966; who lived next door to her beloved grandmother; who walked to school and played outside and spent winter snow days sledding down Macklemore Hill with the same gang, winter after winter.

Who is mighty happy to be on this side of such a big move.

Who already feels at home in a place somewhat foreign, and at the same time remarkably, beautifully familiar.

XXOO

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Changing seasons.

IT IS NO coincidence, of this I am certain, that as I took five minutes this morning to flip through my recently ignored inbox, Maria Popova had sent me this via her always illuminating Sunday Brain Pickings newsletter:

What, then, of autumn — that liminal space between beauty and bleakness, foreboding and bittersweet, yet lovely in its own way? Colette, in her meditation on the splendor of autumn and the autumn of life, celebrated it as a beginning rather than a decline. But perhaps it is neither — perhaps, between its falling leaves and fading light, it is not a movement toward gain or loss but an invitation to attentive stillness and absolute presence, reminding us to cherish the beauty of life not despite its perishability but precisely because of it; because the impermanence of things — of seasons and lifetimes and galaxies and loves — is what confers preciousness and sweetness upon them.

It was a passage I needed to read as we are in a season of change, Tim and I, making the small move from one house to another, from one town to another hardly 40 minutes away.

And yet it feels monumental. And by that I should explain that I mean less the move and more the change–articulated in notes both sharp and sweet as over the past three weeks I have sifted through every moment and memory of my nearly 60 years and made a distinction between that which is worth keeping and what to kiss and let go. Add to that the boxes and bags and trunks–endless as they feel–filled with treasures from so many lifetimes: my mother’s, my father’s, my grandparent’s (four); my great-grandparents (both sides) and great aunts and uncles, all of whom placed great value in beauty and treasure and legacy.

There has been the “why on earth did I/they keep this?” easy decision, but to tell you the truth, that has been rare. Way more often, and way more difficult, is the reality that for most of these things–mine and theirs–these are the things of a lifetime that were deemed, specifically, worthy of saving. Across time, and across generations.

Popova’s newsletter has reminded me, through Colette’s words, what preciousness really is, and that as is evidenced by autumn, it is the impermanence of things that bestows upon them such loveliness.

For it is true, of course. And it makes it all the more beautiful and poignant that, for me, all this change has come in October. It has been a steeping in my own season of impermanence, this month with its “falling leaves and fading light.” It will not be long before the trucks come and I will stand on the edge to say goodbye to our pretty spot on Bickley’s Pond. I will look to the sweet mallard couple who has shared their love and loss with us, and the eagles who welcomed us here and who still come, from time to time, to check on our cove. To the bluebird house and the birdbath (which, I should tell you, is filled every afternoon with such a mess of teenage bluebirds you can’t help but laugh as LORD HAVE MERCY they do carry on).

(some of) the babies blue

And I will get in my loaded car and drive to Columbia to our oh-so-pretty new place. It offers its own promises, of course: close proximity to so much the city offers; a lifestyle, active and uptown. My sweet Eliza will be close by, too, the greatest gift of this change and, quite frankly, our greatest motivation. For as much as we love being here, time with her will be the new reward and, of course, the greatest of treasures.

the devoted mallards
oh, those eagles
the sweet, sweet blues

AUTUMN IS beautiful, this liminal space. I will try to remember this as I walk through the approaching busy days. I will let the changing colors and shifting tones and the soft move to winter remind me there is nevertheless a stillness, and a way to hold myself in presence. Because that’s what life is really about, what life requires, don’t you think? This moving ahead, this coming along, season-to-season, but also the noticing. The celebrating, and the honoring.

It’s what I hope to have done with all the things, now that I write that. I hope I have considered and honored well, even when–especially when–I have loved and let go.

I hope I have honored well.

XXOO

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