I am moving. For the first time in 10 years. There is something about packing your belongings that makes you face who you really are, what you have accumulated, kept. What matters most.
When I was pregnant with Froggy I purged her room of my college belongings. There was a grand purpose to this purge, the nest needed to be free of old text books and posters, my life as a single-20-something. Beer bongs and mardi gras beads made way for burp clothes and a diaper genie. I had a child coming and it was easy to throw away chatzkies and memorabilia because I knew what mattered was this person about to enter our world. My purpose was the future - the space yet to be filled.
There were small interim purges, ridding our tiny closets of baby clothes and books read about how to be good parents and good partners (in retrospect, maybe I should have kept some of those). But when you live in an apartment, there isn't the luxury (or burden) of storing a bunch of crap (mementos) you'll never look at again. I finally, after 2000 miles and 15 years donated my cross-country skis to Goodwill. And even they didn't want them. The employee actually laughed and said, "Oh yeah, we'll just throw those puppies in the garbage." Because who, after all, uses cross country skis in Los Angeles? But they meant something to me dammit. Skiing after dark in a college town with a light snow fall, a sky full of stars and a good friend. How could anyone throw that memory away?
After our divorce, I purged again. It was in the letting go of actual things that life went on. In the empty space I was able to breathe. And able to see that there was indeed a future. Nothing bogging us down, except for 3000 stuffed animals, sippy cups and plastic party favors leftover from 2 million birthday parties. I hate goody bags. Nowadays that plastic made-in-china crap goes right into the recycling before Froggy knows what hit her (I do this while she's still high on blue frosting and pinata loot). And so far it's seemed to work. Erasers and parachutes, sticky hands and balloons, basically choking hazards for the cats and something to pollute our glorious earth. I have never and will never buy goody bags. In fact, at Froggy's last birthday party a little girl asked, "Where's our goody bag?" And I replied, "You don't need a goody bag kid. The fun is the gift." She looked at me like I'd just inhaled a wee too much birthday candle smoke. But where were we? Moving. Ah yes.
Boxes and boxes of our past donated, baby clothes, crib sheets, bottles, wedding gifts. Put into cardboard and placed in someone else's care.
"Here, take this. I don't need it anymore. But be kind. It meant something."
So, we're starting anew. Kind of. Because when you have a child it isn't just "packing up and movin' on up" (cue The Jefferson's soundtrack). It's checking out school districts and neighborhoods, preparing a little person for a big-arse change. We're not starting over, we are starting wonderful. That's how I'm looking at it. Starting wonderful.
We've been preparing Froggy for about six months that this change was afoot. And we've let her design her bedroom, with a brand new trundle bed that in her words is "very French and very fancy." She picked the colors for the walls (pink and purple of course), and we've met the neighborhood kids. One girl is a Froggy clone. They are sure to wreak serious havoc. We're within walking distance of the beach, coffee shops and trendy clothing stores (a bit too hipster for my second-hand tastes, but what are you gonna do?).
This apartment has seen Froggy's first steps, first giggles, first words. First everything. I brought her for the first time through the door of our blue-walled living room. Her nursery that I had so carefully set up with baby pictures of her extended family was never actually lived in. Because she settled right into my bed and has remained there for snuggles and nursing, tube feedings and lullabies. I rocked her to the song of the creak of our hard wood floor, every night. Chirp, creak, conk. Chirp, creak, conk. Chirp, creak, conk.
The thought of leaving these walls has been difficult. I've been preparing Froggy, but hadn't prepared myself. This was my home too. My wonderful, sweet, good-vibed home. All our furniture, collected from friends and family, goodwills around the city. People, just like me who left these items in my care saying, "Here, take this, I don't need it anymore. But be kind. It meant something."
Our park at the end of our street, our crazy and kind-hearted neighbors. The dogs, Diego, Rocket, Spike, Dexter and Disco. You'll be missed somethin' awful.
It's hard to let go even for something better.
To be fair there are plenty of bad memories within these wall as well. I stood at the screen door and wailed as the doctor told me Froggy had Cystic Fibrosis. I walked the halls with worry when she started having seizures and sobbed on the cold tile of our pink kitchen floor. The bathtub where I watched my daughter dance in my belly was also my escape in a bad marriage. There were many tears shed and fights where no one won. It was life here. Real life. And despite the drama, it is not an easy stage to exit.
The other night I was sitting on our second-hand sofa with both cats at my side. Froggy was sound asleep, and I could hear the hum of her feeding tube and air purifier. I looked around the room and thought, "I'm ready. I'm ready to go." It really was the first time I'd felt that. I hadn't prepared myself for this huge transition even though I knew it was coming. And it came, like all things good, naturally. When it should.
I'm ready. I'm scared. But ready. This has been a good home. But we have outgrown it. And now it is time to move on. Time to let go. Time to see what is behind door number....?