I’ve taken down the Flensted Swallows that flew above my son’s crib at the foot of my bed. Even after the crib was long gone, seeing them framed against the white curtains, the morning sun streaming in, has been a simple pleasure. Now they’ve been carefully packed away to find another window in another place.
I’ve also taken apart the Stokke chairs that both the children ate mashed peas, carrots and birthday cake in, 8 cakes for one, 6 for the other. I’d always hoped they would sit in them for a bit longer, and both children have noticed their absence. This I suppose will be a transition in many ways, for Molly, the children and I.
We took down the robot that watched over us as we ate. John Emmet and I made it one weekend, out of cardboard, bits and pieces. This house has been full of creativity and the walls are filled with evidence of it. Some in the form of framed pictures and drawings, others more… permanent, although the children have had some luck removing many of the nearly infinite stickers.
Those marks on the wall, made this pretty little house a home, maybe not the kind everyone would want to live in, it has never been neat like a museum, where the art is highlighted by the austerity of the walls. In here the children’s world of wooden blocks, pencils, precious rocks and Legos has exploded, and intermingled with a million books on philosophy, photography, management theory and more.
In the way the empty house I found here, became full and alive, now, we are putting things in boxes. When we first arrived, we needed to paint the walls, and soon no doubt the next family will do the same, returning my home back to the abstract house I found here, one that they can fill with their own memories.
There is the other part too, the way in which packing is like unpacking. Taking things out of drawers rarely opened, finding lost treasures and memories, here and there. Each bringing you back to previous houses and lives. Moving in a way becomes a stitching together of the past and the present.
Of course, in the end, it isn’t the objects, but the people around them that makes these subtle sentimental vibrations in the chest. My daughter was so young when she came here, she can’t really remember, and my son, born here, has never lived away from this house. Their friends, our friends, found in parks and schools, through the web of parental friendships and happy accidents, have given them, us, a magical place to grow. How lovely to walk to town, jump in the town run, bury the kitchen utensils in the back yard and bike down the C&O canal. We left NYC with Macaulay, and JEm on the way, to find a backyard with a bit less concrete and a lot less cars. I doubt we could have done much better.
And parties? We’ve had a few. Dinner parties with yogis, scientist, sommeliers and people trying to change the world for the better, Halloween Parties, birthday parties… We’ve toasted guests from Seattle, NH, San Francisco, MA, Pittsburgh, NYC, Bethesda and Australia.
I never could have predicted I would end up in West Virginia, and once here would have never imagined becoming an international speaker, traveling the world to tell people about real people, doing real work, in the unlikeliest of places.
I’d have never been able to predict the next adventure either. I’m excited to explore new ideas, and be challenged by new peers. I’ve always been a restless homebody, unable to stay still, wanting to be home. So, it is off to a new town, to make a new home to come back to. We’ll have a huge park for a back yard (I won’t have to mow it), and many new friends to meet (that’s Molly’s job). I’ll finally have a perfect explanation for all the books and a new focus for my curiosity. I can’t wait… but first, NH, Boise, Paris, Salem… and the summer reading list.
We’ve eaten our last family dinner here in Shepherdstown, we toasted with Champagne brought back from a trip to Paris before either of the children and sparkling grape juice. We talked about the last 7 years, what could we remember? John Emmet goofed around and Macaulay smiled, it was a lovely meal and a fitting ending to our time here.
I’ll miss you… all of my friends in West Virginia who get a chance to read this, even those I was robbed of the chance to give a proper good bye to. Thank you, each of you, my family’s lives, my life, has been all the richer for having you in it.
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