“It looks like the Shire,” someone said just after I moved in. He was right. In the greenest part of spring, there’s something peacefully fairly-like about this small patch of earth with its gracefully curved, small bridges and abundant trees.
I moved in three years ago, when I was a year out of separation from my then-spouse of fifteen years, when we were careening toward a divorce that would be final a month later. (Was that really only three years ago?) The end of my marriage was unexpected, and it completely up-ended my life on an atomic level. Quite literally, one day I was living in northern Idaho with another home in northwest Montana, and the next day I had been transplanted back to my hometown of Indianapolis. The next year was an exercise in orienting myself and my life, in figuring out where I was, what I wanted and dealing with the fundamental changes in my own existence. I spent that year in a small bungalow in a walkable, interesting area of the city, but that was a stark change from my six acres on a Montana mountain. By the following spring, I was ready for something different.
Even though my own family had been downsized to myself and my son, I inexplicably rented a six-bedroom house on an acre and a half of green earth near the northwest edge of the city. I couldn’t really explain why the two of us needed six bedrooms, and I wasn’t overly concerned about it. I set up a guest room and a quilting and fabric art room, and I had big parties with bunches of friends and their kids.
And then one day right around the time my divorce was final, I met a guy with two kids. And as these things sometimes go, I kept on meeting him. A year and a half later, the big house was feeling full. And the rent was rising, yearly. That same guy and I now have a goal of our own, which is a house together with more land, and probably more animals. But we’re not there yet, and so that means an interim place, which we found a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never cared for suburban neighborhoods, but this one offers more space than usual, and the ability to walk to Eagle Creek Park. Ironically, I hope it will bring my son more into contact with green spaces, as neighborhoods tend to offer a critical mass of kids, and I suspect kids require the synergy of friendship to really explore the world at this age. For my part, I’m envisioning the ability to take my evening walks in uninterrupted forest. Next winter (should we actually be blessed with one) I could quite easily cross-country ski from my doorstep to the park. And of course we’ll have a place nearby to drop the kayaks into the water.
But that means leaving. For someone who has so much trouble “leaving home,” I sure have done it a lot. I remember leaving the first home I owned in Indiana for the Portland, Oregon area. It was a peaceful wooded paradise on Crooked Creek, and we lived there when my son was born. Even though I love the western United States, I was deeply attached to that house on the creek. Six years passed before I could even drive by it again; I took Travis by it only last year. But of course, leaving that home led me to my beloved home in the Montana mountains, which I also had to leave, eventually.
Remember the medium? When we were talking about my son, she said “Mmmm, he doesn’t like change.” And of course, I chuckled in recognition. The truth is that I’m not always so comfortable with it either. I suppose I come by this honestly. One of my parents has lived in the same place for thirty years, and one sibling for more than twenty. While life seems determined to keep me hopping about, that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it, and neither is my son. We both seem to have fallen into a bit of a funk consisting of something not quite as sharp as grief, and not quite as mild as mere discomfort. When I told him we were moving, he gave voice to what I had been thinking since making the decision: “But what about Butch? What about Al?”
I know the answer, intellectually, is that we will need to let go of Butch and Al, and our time here, and leave them in the hands of others in order to seek new things. That’s the nature of life, always. But as I get older, I find myself longing for a patch of permanent ground, where I can plant perennials, establish a group of animals, make a place my own and stop saying quite so many goodbyes.
Life is transitory enough as it is. I’m so grateful for the places I’ve been able to find and hold that sense of home, but when I am moving from one of them, I find that I long for the number of those places to be fewer in the future.