I opened the car door and stopped to take a final look at the cute cottage--- my home for the past six years. My husband and I bought the house because it was perfect for our lifestyle then-- back when I stopped cooking dinner on Tuesdays and date nights were much more frequent. When you're in walking distance of trendy bars and restaurants and about a two-minute drive from downtown Charleston, who wants to eat in? About a month later, as I sat in the rocking chair on my new front porch. I had a vision. I saw myself holding a child. A month after that, I was pregnant. When we learned we had a healthy baby boy on the way, we painted his room yellow and decorated his walls with a sun, palm tree and fishing net. I nailed wooden letters above the crib: Dillon's Beach Shack.
When our son learned to walk, we built a white picket fence (no, I, technically, did not build it myself) to keep him out of the street. When he got older and learned to ride a bike, I drew an imaginary line near the end of the driveway. "Do not cross!" I warned. Now, his younger brother is ready to follow in his footsteps. I can't believe my second child will be two this summer, and he's already trying to climb over the fence.
I smiled at these flashes of memories as I sat down in the driver's seat and closed the door. I felt the tears filling up in my eyes, and on a whim, I jumped out of the car and ran to the neighbors' house to say goodbye. They must have been out walking their dogs, and that's a good thing, because I didn't really want to cry on their doorstep.
I like to linger with my goodbyes. On your way out, if you stand at the doorway a few extra minutes, chances are, I will hug you twice. But during this scene, I felt my writer-ly self observing the moment-- and she was very aware of how life seemed to be kicking her out the door. Two PODS were already sitting in the driveway-- the renters were moving in the next morning. "It's time to go."
And so I left. I pulled away and let the emotions wash over me-- the strange and unsettling feelings of transition. The moment when you're in between staying and going.
An hour later, at the new house--still a mess with boxes and displaced furniture--I felt something else. Something familiar. I took the kids outside. Dillon rode his bike and Blake toddled down the sidewalk. And as day turned to dusk to a brand new morning, new neighbors stopped by to say hello. Family and long-time friends brought lunch and helped us get settled. I recognized the feeling, because no matter where life takes us, it's the piece that doesn't need a permanent address. Turns out, it travels very well.
Wherever we go, we take ourselves with us. That inner radar that lets us know when we are home.