At busy times when it feels like I’ll never complete my to-do list, I find resolve in a line from a Robert Frost poem.
“No way out but through…” reminds me that there are things that can’t be leaped over or bargained out of.
Many people have asked James and me about how the preparations for our move are going, and each time I simultaneously understand why they ask and dread having to answer…
Late this week, right before we needed to leave for New Zealand, the people who are renting our home starting on August 1 emailed to ask if they could do a walk through before we left. In fact, when I received the email request, every room in our house had half-filled boxes, spackled-but-not-yet-painted chunks of wall, and random projects underway.
I did not relish the idea of guests coming to walk through; would they scrutinize the details they had perhaps not noticed on the earlier showing? But it was too late for them to back out of the lease–all the papers were signed; I said they could come by on their lunch break on Friday.
Upon arrival they found James repairing the master bathroom shower diverter and me cleaning up lunch things in the kitchen. They walked through the house, talking excitedly about which room each would be living in and how they planned to arrange the furniture. I noticed Evelyn, ever at the outskirts of adult conversations, looking a little teary-eyed. She later explained that it was hard to hear strangers talk possessively about her home.
Then I heard one of the renters say something about parking in the garage.
Now, we have owned our house for 5 ½ years, and we have not once pulled our car into the garage. In part, this is because we own a minivan and the garage is barely a one-car size. But the other reason for our habit of parking in the driveway without daring to attempt a garage-entry: housework clutter, storage, and disorder. Included in the items stored in our narrow garage space were 6 bikes, sports gear, boogie boards, lawn chairs, 14 interior closet doors, wheelbarrow, extra sandbox sand, yard tools, lawn mower, several ladders, and a great deal of other objects.
But we had advertised the house as having a one-car garage, and clearly that meant to our tenants that one of them would be able to park their vehicle out of the rain, sun, and eyes of passersby… which meant a lot of work had just been added to our already intense to-do list.
In addition, they indicated that they would only need one of our two queen beds. this was new information… and again, the revelation meant that James and I suddenly had another task–this one hefting a queen-size mattress and boxspring set and bedframe up into the loft above the garage.
In short, the last 48 hours, in particular, leading up to our Sunday 6:45am departure for the airport, were completely filled with essential projects around the house and packing for the trip.
Although we have taken adventurous journeys before, the additional work of needing to have the house not only cleaned up and vacated but also ready for someone else to reside there for nearly a year felt overwhelming. James moved from one task to the next rapidly and with incredible energy. I also dug in. The kids were much less engaged; on our last day of working I think the kids watched (at least) two movies and had other screen time, too.
One moment in our home office, I found my Ramona and Beezus diary from second grade and James asked me kindly if I could reread my 8 year old self’s reflections at another time… as the night wore on my ability to make fast decisions about things decreased. We finally finished at 2:15am on Sunday morning (our alarms were set for 5am), James slotted the last boxes into the garage loft.
We couldn’t have done all that we did without the help of others: who took the kids on Friday for nearly the entire afternoon and into the evening; who are storing special personal belongings like photo albums, art, and other special items we didn’t want to leave in the house; who brought us boxes, food, gifts, and encouragement; who agreed to keep an extra eye or two on the house; who wrote or stopped by to say goodbye and wish us the best; who took us to the airport (thank you, Mom and Dad!!); and who listened (and also read) about our journey to leave on this great adventure.
We waved goodbye to our house on Radcliffe this morning as the sun came up through the clouds, the sidewalk and grass soaked from yesterday’s torrential rains. It’s a place we love and a place to which we will happily return in June 2016. But for now, as I write this at 30,000 feet over Denver, Colorado, our house is far in the rearview mirror.