Friday, February 27, 2009

The Wood Between the Worlds: Reflections on Moving

...About to embark on my 23rd move (I think that is the final count). This one is from Texas to somewhere in the NYC metro area. Growing up I attended 10 schools from 1st grade on, and as an adult I have continued in the moving tradition, albeit in the civilian world.

In bit of cosmic humor, one week after the For Sale sign went up in the yard, the Allen, Texas (our town) "Welcome Wagon" called to send me a packet and welcome us to Texas. That's how we roll. We relocate before the Welcome Wagon can catch us!

The house is up for sale on MLS, and the bedrooms are abnormally clean and half empty (thanks to underbed storage). Lamps are tastefully lit in rooms where there are no people. I am burning vanilla on tinfoil in the oven on purpose. Come in to my house, said the spider to the fly.

It's like a pretend family lives here, like that house in the desert in that recent Indiana Jones movie, the set of a movie. The computer is set to all of the online listings sent by our realtor in New Jersey several times a week.

Here, in this sunny southern town -- a town where we have played little league and bought groceries and attended congregational meetings -- we suddenly have now have become short-timers.

And I have begun especially appreciating the things I always liked about this house that I am about to vacate. There are big brown bunnies that come right up to our long kitchen windows for bird seed...right where we do the pledge of allegiance and our calendar each day! I'll miss the woodpecker that lives in the tree behind us on the creek, and his little red head and his busy work at his hole. I'll miss the gorgeous, rich and textured, handscraped hardwood floor the last owners installed. It feels nice and gently bumpy on barefeet. The soft, warm pale yellow color of the walls. My neighbor who is always good for a mid-day chat session by the mail box.

I look at the folks in our loving church and see them with a certain warmth and affection brought by new distance. I suddenly notice that there is one lady at church who seems to help with everything. That is, I vaguely knew it before, but now it hits me with the force of clarity. I notice the new people at church, and suddenly realize they almost belong here more than I do. I notice that an elder looks tired and that the Hot Topic everyone is caught up in will actually probably work out fine either way. I think I begin to see things from the perspective of "When We Stop Back To Visit In Two Years."

And within myself, I feel a drawing back, and moving ahead, even as I realize I have no home yet to go to. It's a funny, Navy kid feeling. An in-between feeling, like the Wood Between the Worlds in that CS Lewis book about the dawning of time.

A softness steals over me as I withdraw -- not my affection, but something else -- like ownership. There is sadness, yes, and, strangely, also a bit of a relief, an almost spiritual sort of shedding of cares. When you are forced to say good bye to things and people you love and don't want to leave, you find you are a little sharper in thought, a little more streamlined in your life and person, a little more dependent on fundamentals.

The busy-ness suddenly becomes more internal, now that I am withdrawn from ministry obligations, from kids' sports, from whatever good and right plans I would have been making for a Texas summer. I find my focus narrowing. I am still busy -- actually more so -- but in a focused, wagons-circled kind of way, an inward way, and my outward view broadens and perhaps clarifies.

I am even more simply a wife and mom concerned with making and finding a home and a church -- discussing options and plans with David, schooling the kids, working on the special issues with them, keeping the house very clean, calling movers and getting estimates, finishing up with doctors and dentists.

We both, David and I, go back to some our old timeworn jokes and ways, we revert back to our more original selves. "Love yer show babe," I say. I think about when we were engaged. I think about the Ryder truck to California. I think about the drive to Denver.

I remember that sometimes this kind of thing would happen when I was a working girl, with respect to work concerns. Some giant issue would suddenly loom up at work, and we would all drop our other work concerns and hunch together and give all of our days to handling this event, or paper, or issue. There is a sort of purgative relief in streamlining like this.

And yes, it makes the eventual falling back into the variety of settled cares a relief and a novelty, too. Vive la Variety!

Eat, drink, learn, reflect. The Wood Between the Worlds.

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