It’s Monday afternoon. Drew has taken our son off for a walk around the lake, and I’m watching them from my bedroom window. It’s a beautiful day, cool and thinly clouded, a soft breeze stirring patterns of light into the leaves over their heads. Drew is gesturing about how you have to be careful crossing the street, he’s pointing out the playgrounds and the wetlands that border our community. Beside him, my son looks so small, the nape of his neck heartbreakingly bare, hands in his pockets as he lifts his chin to take a cautious look around.
We are here, we three. Our family unit has shrunk. My head feels light now, as after a major haircut, when you forget you no longer have to push your hair aside on the pillow or take such a big handful of shampoo. At the grocery store, I found myself reaching for a second gallon of milk, a container of cream cheese, an extra tube of toothpaste–things I used to buy for the teenagers, things we no longer need. I’m not sure how to feel about that. I’m lighter. Much, much lighter. But I miss the weight of my children.
Still, for all the sadness of goodbye, our new home is wonderful. Every morning is Christmas, with the scent of excitement in the air–and so much to unwrap! Our possessions are blooming in the empty space, easing into the edges and corners. Here are my cookbooks, the copper pitcher I bought in Germany, my grandmother’s paintings. Everett’s stuffed monkey, a conch shell from California. The picture of my mother and me, taken when I was three. All our keepsakes, the snarled detritus (goddamned power cords), the pots and pans and shoes and sheets and lamps, piano and desk, computers, flower pots, spoons and sweaters and photographs. I wish we were filming the unpacking in time-lapse photography. It would be like watching a seed erupt from the soil.
I’ve wanted to write before now, and tell you about the trip through the desert. Already the landscape is like an apocalyptic dream, dust rising as smoke from the ashy sand, desiccated pools of salt where nothing grows for miles, and ahead of me the trundling van containing everything we own. Like following an amiable Cerberus out of the underworld and into the clouds.
Definitely into the clouds.
Listen, do you hear that? A far-off choir of angels is singing: Portlaaaand, Portlaa-aaa-nd . . .
We have arrived!
Where are you?