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, 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.
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.