The Decoration of Interiors

I’ve written here before about a few of my favorite places: my best friend’s front steps, her sunlit kitchen table. Yesterday, that little drop-leaf table and the pair of candle lanterns from those front steps were packed into my car, driven through Missoula and unpacked again in a sweet two-story white house that really looks like it belongs in the English countryside. Because her husband is (still) in England studying to be a brilliant conservationist, I was called in for high-priority best-friend duty to help her move that kitchen table, and all of her other things, into her newly-bought home. This is something we do together and for each other: decorate our interiors.

I do not take this business of moving, of uprooting and resettling, lightly. In fact, I took a quick break from packing and unpacking boxes at my best friend’s old and new homes to (full disclosure) chat with my therapist about somewhat traumatic recurring memories involving packing and unpacking boxes, old intimate belongings, and the residue of a transitory, unsettled upbringing. To be perfectly honest, the thought of ‘moving,’ as it were, typically induces in me a tsunami of nausea. (Seven houses in three states on opposite sides of the continent and the Pacific in ten years between the age of five and fifteen will do that to a young girl.) I don’t like the thought of leaving anything behind, of feeling disoriented and, at least momentarily, alone in an unknown place.

And yet.

And yet, in the midst of all of my best friend’s boxes, I noticed glimmers of a rare and treasured thing: continuity. I put out a photo of her husband, my husband and me, almost ten years ago, with cupcake frosting on our faces at her (ahem) twentieth birthday kegger. I put it on a table that, I realized, I will someday set a baby bottle while I rock one of our (as of now unborn and not conceived) babies. I woke up from our makeshift sleepover bed on the bare wood floor and saw my kids and her kids running in the backyard, while we drink cocktails on the porch. At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I heard our muffled laughter through the glass doors that separate the living room from the stairway to the second story bedrooms, as our children might hear it when they are put to bed before the night is over. My best friend was settling into the house that would contain her future and her family, and although I was there to help her, I also felt that I was somehow settling a little bit of myself in that house and those lives, in that future too.

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So as we let the blood out of her old place to give life to this new home, I felt, perhaps for the first time, that moving didn’t have to mean leaving. That there were some things I might count on to last.

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11 thoughts on “The Decoration of Interiors

  1. What a completely touching post! I love the way you painted the picture of your future together and not separated. Your friend is incredibly lucky to have you to keep the continuity.

  2. I know what it’s like to have to pick up and uproot (especially as a kid). My dad is in real estate… that translated into me never spending more than 4 years in one house my entire life. I think I’ve reached 29 places (temporary included) that I’ve lived in 28 years… I’m definitely “of no fixed address”. I was fortunate as a child to get to remain in my school system… but no child should become an expert at Open Houses…

    • It is so interesting to know and feel what a sense of place does for the soul. I hope you have the address you want now!

  3. It’s nice that you found a sense of continuity in the move. Moving and change can be so unsettling.

    And a lovely post. The images of setting the baby bottle on the dresser, watching your future children play while drinking cocktails, your laughter heard muffled from a distance are all playing in my mind. Delicious!

  4. So beautifully written! I envy your friendship. To have a women friend that is so close in your adulthood is such a rare thing. Your friendship seems to go beyond the regular boundries and into sisterhood.

    • Our friendship is made easier by the fact that our husbands also dearly love each other. I think it would be much more difficult to have such a close girlfriend in married-adulthood if the guys weren’t able to connect (and drink beer together while we have our girl time).

  5. I read this on a particularly apt day. As a nomad, someone who feels the itch to move every few years or so, who fears the idea of never moving again, at first I was surprised to read of your anxiety towards it. All that moving makes your world so open, so wide (and I know you know that). But then, comes the section about continuity and permanence, how that can transcend the actual physical space, and I began to think of what is to come in this still relatively new house of mine, in this still somewhat ill-fitting country of mine, and especially given what’s coming up in my life, I look forward to that same continuity wherever it may be. Thank you for that.

  6. Pingback: Keeping (on-line) Kindred Spirits: A Gift of Social Media? | Mother Sugar

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